I’ve seen this question posed on social media so many times recently and each time I see it I get strongly stirred up.
The short answer is there isn’t one. What I mean by that is, whatever the extent of your introvert traits, embrace them and follow your dreams.
Look, being an introvert isn’t life defining. It isn’t something that should limit your life experiences or your ambitions. It’s not a handicap or an illness, and it definitely shouldn’t be a label we hide behind.
Labels are unhelpful and restrictive.
Let’s flip the situation. Does being an extrovert mean those personality types shouldn’t or can’t spend time alone? Does it mean we should accept their extroverted emotional outbursts? Does it mean that it’s healthy for them to only seek validation from other people? Does it mean they can’t have careers in sensitive surroundings because they come across as aggressive and controlling?
No, of course not. So why should an introvert have their wings clipped when they have a desire to fly?
The truth is an introvert can have any career they want.
Sure, a job in a call centre might not be the ideal match but that doesn’t mean you should have a solitary career without connection to other humans, or that your options are limited.
Many introverts see their personality traits as negatives, but what if we were to flip that and take a new perspective?
You speak less and listen intently. Wow! Who doesn’t want to be really listened to? A coaching client? A customer negotiating a large corporate deal? A student? A team member? Listening and observational skills are hugely underestimated and I can’t think of any job where to excel at this wouldn’t be an advantage.
You can be trusted to get on with it without excessive supervision and will work hard to figure out a solution for yourself. Self-reliance is a virtuous trait in an employee. Understanding how to help yourself and taking action is both empowering and beneficial in getting you to where you need to go.
Because you prefer deep meaningful conversations you’re less likely to waste time with idle chit-chat. That makes you a much valued colleague because you have a way of making people feel heard and understood. You’re also more likely to be productive performer.
You’re likely to be more resilient than your extrovert counterparts. You’ve no doubt grown up in a world that celebrates extroverts so you’ve had to develop coping mechanisms and grow an impenetrable armour. This makes you self motivated and less likely to need constant reassurance.
I could go on but I don’t need to. Because as an introvert you’re quick to catch on and are generally more intelligent (studies show that introverts tend to have higher IQ’s ), so I’m sure you get the message.
Let’s bring this theory to life. As an INFJ I had a very successful 20 year career in sales. My ability to listen to my clients and form deep connections with them meant I could quickly build trust, and great relationships. A skill that’s critical to master in the sales process.
My meticulous approach to my work meant that I always did what I said I was going to do and on time. My no-nonsense proposals matched the customers’ requirements every time.
I didn’t need hand holding by managers. I just got on with the job and if I needed help, I would always try to solve the problem before asking for my managers support. They knew that anytime I asked for help it was because I really needed it. I was seen as low maintenance and very successful. A winning combination for any business.
And while I was playing to my strengths and I worked on my development areas. One by one I focused on what skills I needed to hone and what I felt would elevate me further.
So rather than think ‘what job can an introvert do?’ Think about ‘what job would I love to do?’ And then think how your introvert superpowers play to the needs of that career.