There was a time when hiring managers avoided introverts. They sought out outgoing personalities, potential employees who were often loud or brash. I think the rise of tech billionaires helped change that. Often the people most comfortable working alone are also the ones getting the most done. Introverts can do well in groups, they can even lead a team. The big difference is that while extroverts are often energized after being around a bunch of people, introverts need time to recover. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are shy nor does it always indicate social anxiety (although introverts can have those qualities). It means being focused more on internal feelings rather than external sources of stimulation. Anywhere from 25 to 40% percent of the population are introverts. However, Myers-Briggs, the company famous for its personality test, reported that their own survey showed almost 57% of the population prefer Introversion. Fittingly they announced in on January 2nd: World Introvert Day,
If you’re an introvert you can have a successful, fulfilling career. If you’re having a tough time it may have more to do with the environment rather than the position. You’re likely to not do well in a noisy, open office. You handle tasks best one at a time and chafe under the constantly watching eyes of a micromanager. So start by taking a look at your career and ask if it is making you happy? Put yourself ahead of others’ expectations. Make sure you’re not limiting yourself. Here’s a list of some of the most satisfying careers for introverts.
1. Content Creation
It’s probably not a surprise that writers, photographers, and many other creative professionals are introverts. The great news is that there are a ton of avenues available. From writing blogs for a website to editing videos for a car company, there are a range of possibilities. If you’re thinking of a career as a director, attending a university with a film department can help. Still, there are plenty who succeed just by doing the work –– shooting low budget projects until someone notices. If this has been a secret passion of yours for a while, now is the time to take the steps toward a fulfilling career.
2. The Legal Profession
When you picture an attorney you likely imagine one of the smooth talking performers populating many TV shows and movies. However, Eva Wisnik, president of the legal training and placement firm Wisnik Career Enterprises, has given the Myers-Briggs personality test to more than 6,000 attorneys since 1990 and says 60 percent are introverts. She points out that, “Many lawyers spend a lot of time by themselves—reading, writing, thinking—compared to other jobs where the majority of the work is interacting. Introverts make good lawyers, especially for clients who want a thoughtful answer.” Even if you’re on a team you’ll likely be alone and self-supervising for much of the time. Which isn’t to say that introverts can’t be successful litigators –– they are skilled at the preparation necessary to succeed in the courtroom. Introverts can also do well as paralegals.
3. Information Technology
This is probably the most common item on any list covering the most satisfying careers for introverts. Many if not most successful software engineers and programers are introverts. If you have the skills and curiosity but aren’t currently working in the field the avenues to success have widened considerably. Where a four-year computer science or programming degree was once a prerequisite, today companies are hiring people who learn coding online or just test well. It’s possible to land an entry level job and get promoted as you gain experience.
4. Working in the Great Outdoors
If you feel hemmed in by the four walls of an office, maybe a more outdoor life is perfect for you. From park rangers to botanists, there’s a huge list of interesting work that allows you to labor for hours in relative solitude. Yes, you may be working as part of a team but you’ll still have time for introspection while getting the job done. The fresh air isn’t such a bad bonus either.
5. Business to Business Sales
If sales jobs interest you but you worry you’ll be lost in a crowd of extroverts, consider business-to-business sales. The stereotypical backslapping, bad joke telling salesperson wouldn’t succeed selling items worth millions to company buyers. They want details, information –– the type of knowledge introverts are skilled at acquiring. In fact, Harvard Business Review reports that the ones who do the best at sales are modest and humble while those with high levels of gregariousness ranked in the bottom third of overall performance.
This of course can encompass just about anything –– including the careers listed above. Still it’s worth inclusion for the simple reason that you might love what you do but have a tough time having a boss. That means it’s possible to do the same job but as a freelancer or consultant. Introverts do very well running their own companies because it gives them the freedom to set their own schedules and the ability to work independently.
Don’t let being an introvert hold you back. Embrace it and realize that you could be embarking on the career of your dreams.
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