Career Planning as an Introvert

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As an INFJ, I’ve always had an independent and idealistic streak. I loved to draw, I loved to write, and I loved to blog. But I hadn’t exactly figured out career planning, in terms of how to make a living from doing something creative.

For several years I held onto an entry-level position that helped me to pay the bills. It wasn’t stressful and it was a job I could do from home. But it reached a point one day when I realized that I needed to do something more fulfilling. I had talents and skills that I wanted to be able to use in more meaningful and satisfying ways.

Once I realized this, I spent hours reflecting on the best career choice and very intentionally went looking for the perfect job. It took me a while, but it was worth the wait, and I want to share my thought processes with fellow introverts who might be thinking of the same path that I have chosen. These are the steps I took to land my perfect job!

1. Think of Your Priorities. One of my top priorities was looking for a work from home job. Why? Because I enjoy maximizing my time (which means cutting down on commute time, and its associated stress levels). Working remotely means I’m better able to prepare healthy, home-cooked meals, and it gives me more time for self-care. On top of that, I prefer to focus on my work alone most of the time over having to collaborate all the time.

Is a certain salary range of greater importance to you than flexible hours? Or maybe there’s a cause you strongly believe in that you want to be associated with via work. Think of some of your “career deal breakers” to become more discerning during your job hunting.

2. Research Careers that are Introvert-Friendly. When you read about the career paths of other introverts, you get a roadmap for a career that could potentially be fulfilling to you as well. Get to know about the various careers that are a natural fit with the quiet strength of an introvert. You don’t want to feel like a fish out of water if you’re forced to be doing drudgery or hypersocial jobs that require you to talk and interact with others non-stop.

3. Seek Work that YOU Enjoy. Taking personality tests can be very fun and educational. But don’t limit yourself to the list of recommended careers if you’re worried you’ll never find one that sits well with your introverted nature.

Think about the type of work you enjoy doing. Does it involve a lot of writing or research? Are you more interested in work that feels spiritually meaningful, or are you happy working primarily with numbers and spreadsheets? Don’t feel pressured by what other people think you should be doing, because you are the one in charge of your own life and career.

Company culture is of utmost importance for the role and company to feel like a good fit. Ideally, your new boss and work culture are inclusive of introverts. After all, introverts have many qualities which help them excel in their work.

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4. Know What You’re Good At. I’m not the best speaker, but I’m a damn good listener. I typically don’t enjoy being micromanaged, but I appreciate some guidance especially during my first few weeks at a new job. I like to analyze and enjoy a varied role that has diverse and challenging tasks.

When you have a good idea of what you’re good at and what you want in a career, it helps you to narrow down your career options. While knowing and improving on your weaknesses is another way to make progress, focusing on your strengths is a powerful way to highlight your unique capabilities. It is these capabilities that make you a valuable employee. This also gives you confidence during job interviews when you have to speak up about your strengths and relevant skills.

5. Keep Improving. Whether you work for someone else or decide that entrepreneurship suits you best, be sure you are committed to continuous improvement. You want to be adaptable and flexible to changing workplace needs.

Use your unique skills as an introvert to shine. You may listen well, be deeply reflective, and think before you speak. These are important traits in the world of business. Take small steps towards building up your confidence when it comes to contributing your suggestions or speaking up. If a goal seems insurmountable, remember to break it down into smaller steps! Visualize what success looks like to you, and work your way backwards so that you can see clear steps to take to make that vision a reality.

When you are committed to personal and professional development, this shows in your personality, mindset, and quality of work. When you know your value, you are better positioned for higher-paying opportunities.

With some luck and good timing, I ended up getting a writer/editor job for a popular podcast that’s big on personal growth. My experience with relevant side projects came in handy as they showcased my analytical and creative skills which were necessary for the position I applied for. My bosses are respectful to both introverts and extroverts, and they understand how a person’s temperament influences how we live, interact, and work!

I am glad that I went at my own pace and stuck to my values while job hunting.

As an introvert, it’s imperative to think about what drains and energizes you, so that you can achieve that fine work-life balance when it comes to a career. An ideal situation is for a career to be more than a job that pays the bills. This is within reach when there’s clarity in your career planning approach.

Never feel that you have to compromise your introverted nature to better “fit into” a world which doesn’t always appreciate a more subdued temperament. If you seek fulfillment through work, stay true to the causes and dreams that are aligned with your passion. When you’re passionate and care about something, it gives you fuel to speak up…or make a real, lasting difference in your own quieter, unique way.

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