The Introvert's Complete Career Guide: From Landing a Job, to Surviving, Thriving, and Moving on Up

The Introvert's Complete Career Guide: From Landing a Job, to Surviving, Thriving, and Moving on Up

by Jane Finkle


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What do Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, Marissa Mayer, and Bill Gates all have in common outside of being wildly successful? They are all introverts.

In today's fast-paced, unstable workplace achieving success requires speaking up, promoting oneself and one's ideas, and taking initiative. Extroverts, fearless in tooting their own horns, naturally thrive in this environment, but introverts often stumble. If you question your ability to perform and succeed in this extroverted work culture, The Introvert's Complete Career Guide is custom fit for you.

In this supportive, all-inclusive handbook, Jane Finkle demonstrates how to use your introverted qualities to their best advantage, then add a sprinkling of extroverted skills to round out a forceful combination for ultimate career success. Finkle shares the keys to navigating each stage of professional development—from self-assessment and job searching, to survival in a new position and career advancement.

In The Introvert's Complete Career Guide you will learn to:

  • Build confidence by evaluating your values, personality style, interests, and achievements
  • Write the story of your career in resume and LinkedIn formats
  • Use social media at your own comfort level to promote your career and expand your network
  • Express yourself clearly and confidently in network meetings, interviews, and workplace situations
  • Build strong professional relationships with colleagues and senior leaders
  • Overcome fears that prevent you from embracing new challenges

Equally applicable to the real or virtual workplace, The Introvert's Complete Career Guide provides strategies, tools, and success stories that win you the professional respect and recognition you deserve.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632651310
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 476,325
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jane Finkle has 25 years of experience as a career coach for universities and has run her own career counseling firm since 2002. She also created and led the Wharton Career Discovery seminar, a program still offered today. Finkle has written a weekly column, "Career Blueprints", for Abington Patch and has been published in the Huffington Post and Adirondack Life. She resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Read an Excerpt


Give the Wallflower a Voice

* * *

Introverts tend to possess the ability for intense concentration and a sense of calm and compassion, as well as being perceptive, observant, and good listeners, according to the Myers Briggs personality type definitions and studies by psychologist Marti Olsen Laney, PsyD, MFT, author of The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World.

However, when you think about your own introverted personality, you're likely to focus on the negative aspects of your reserved nature, such as not speaking up or taking action. Like a wallflower, you may feel invisible and ignored as the laughter and fun of the party swirl around you.

Being quiet and thoughtful can have a calming effect on your friends and colleagues, but those personality traits won't propel your job search or win you that promotion. However, if you take advantage of your ability to concentrate and think problems through, you can become as successful as any extrovert. After all, even wallflowers can blossom! It all begins with focusing on your positive personal attributes and having a clear and deep understanding of what you bring to the table.

I found that one of the big challenges for many introverts is expressing what makes them unique, especially in situations when there's no time to think through possible answers. Questions such as, "How would you describe yourself?" or "What are your strengths?" are examples of what you'll be asked when exploring a new career, looking for a job, talking to an acquaintance who may have a lead, or sitting in an interview. As introverts, we share information about ourselves as if we are peeling away the layers of an onion, gradually opening up as we get to know someone better. However, employers and professional contacts may expect answers they can sink their teeth into immediately — a full-fledged "meal" of information, complete with details and insights into what makes you tick and how you might add value to the industry or field.

Self-Assessment: Who Are You, Really?

If you want to succeed in your career now and in the future, it's essential to understand how to clearly articulate who you are and the scope of your experience. Most introverts know deep down what makes them special, but finding the right words to express their uniqueness can prove to be challenging. Even when you embrace the words, it's not your nature to boast, so understanding how to come across as talented and competent without sounding egotistical can be equally tricky.

Going through a self-assessment process is like unwrapping a gift of self-awareness that offers you both insight into your strengths and the language to sell yourself to the professional world. I designed the series of exercises in this chapter to help you identify and evaluate your achievements, values, skills, interests, and personality, providing a keen awareness of what you bring to the table and the confidence to express these attributes to a contact or prospective employer.

Maybe you don't trust that completing a series of exercises will help you overcome your panic about what to say when a prospective employer or networking contact asks those big questions. Stay tuned, because I am about to show how a full inventory of you will offset your fear or self-doubt. The self-assessment process takes advantage of your natural, introverted penchant for "digging deep" or seeking within. You'll uncover unique strengths and capabilities, and discover what's important to you. These insights can be used to create an engaging story that you'll be eager to tell about yourself at a networking event, in an informational meeting, on a LinkedIn profile, or during an interview or performance evaluation.

Achievements Exercise

Throughout your life, you can no doubt list a variety of achievements of which you deserve to be proud. They might be personal accomplishments like learning to fix a flat tire, running a 5K, cooking a gourmet meal, and organizing a family event; or career-related successes like writing a proposal, training staff, introducing a new program, or creating a database. Whether simple or complex, achievements can instill a sense of pride and boost confidence. They also offer clues into your overall interests, skills, and values, and will generate words and phrases you can use to describe who you are and what your goals are. After you complete these exercises, you'll know exactly what to say about your achievements and how these reflect your added value to people who can support your job search or as you promote your career to potential employers.

Shining a bright light on your achievements is one of the most positive ways to understand what has been most meaningful to you in your life. Completing the following achievement exercise is also a great way to get out of your introverted modesty zone and give your ego an overdue massage as you take pride in your many accomplishments.

When I taught a career evaluation course at the University of Pennsylvania, I used myself to model the Achievement Exercise by listing three of my favorite achievements, and then asking my students for feedback on what they learned about me based upon these accomplishments.

My Three Accomplishments

1. Creating my first flower garden.

2. Getting selected by my high school English department to recite the Gettysburg Address before a large audience at the end of the town Memorial Parade. I managed to do it in spite of my fear of being in the spotlight.

3. Designing, planning, and presenting the first career discovery seminar for college students at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

I asked the class to help me identify any interests and skills related to my three accomplishments as well as corresponding values (standards or ideals important to a person, such as using one's creativity or obtaining recognition — the two values demonstrated in the following Gettysburg Address example). What they came up with for each of my achievements expanded on what I knew about myself.

My Three Accomplishments' Skills and Values

1. Planting my first flower garden

[??] Skills: visual design, creative thinking, planning, problem-solving

[??] Values: aesthetics, creativity, learning

2. Gettysburg Address

[??] Skills: public speaking, performing

[??] Values: recognition, creativity

3. Career Discovery Seminar

[??] Skills: research, writing, interviewing, teaching, advising, organizing, problem-solving, creative thinking

[??] Values: creativity, knowledge, recognition, helping others

My Essential Skills and Values

From this point, I asked my students to boil down all this information to the essence of my key skills and values. The result was as follows:

[??] Skills: written and verbal communications, problem-solving, public speaking, and counseling/advising

[??] Values: creativity, recognition, and knowledge

I have used their analysis many times to respond to the request "Describe yourself" and to answer the question "What are your strengths?" Keep in mind that you don't have to be an Olympic champion to feel accomplished. Achievements can be career related, personal, or a combination of both. These can be challenges that you've met, successes you've achieved in creating projects or initiatives, or even a simple act of kindness.

Identify at least three achievements that make you proud, plus the skills and values attached to each and write them down in this order:

[??] Achievement

[??] Skills

[??] Values

Think all the way back to high school. Maybe you were on the track team, wrote for the school paper, or served as class or club officer. In college, writing an outstanding research paper, studying abroad, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity are all examples of major achievements. At work, consider your successes with challenging projects or tasks, reports, presentations, leadership roles, and innovations.

You may also want to ask colleagues or friends to review your list and see if they can add others. If you're an introvert, you might well have overlooked some gems.

Values: What's My Purpose?

To gain the most insight into what you find meaningful, let's consider what "values" mean and why this is significant. On its own, the term can imply one's principles or criteria, but here it reflects the many potential facets of how you envision your ideal work — your physical environment, the type of work you are doing, or the philosophy behind it.

Why Values Offer Important Clues to Your Happiness

As you look for new job opportunities or promotions, you want to make sure the jobs you're pursuing support your most important values. If you feel something is missing in your work, it is a sign that some of your values are being compromised. On the other hand, when your work is clearly rewarding, it means that your daily tasks and work environment are aligned with your career values. For example, if you value creativity, you might enjoy working in advertising or graphic design.

To pinpoint your personal values, ask yourself the following career value — oriented questions.

1. Is working with other people more appealing than working alone?

2. Do you like your responsibilities to be clearly structured, or do you prefer some room for creativity?

3. Do you want to work in an environment that helps people? Or one in which you make systems or procedures more effective?

Understanding which values are most important to you from the outset will provide a compass for carefully navigating your career choices and decisions in your work life. It will also provide direction on how to articulate your motivations and goals. When it comes to values, an introvert's natural tendency to look inward will work in your favor since you're always on a quest for meaning.

Values Exercise

Review the following list, and select five values that you feel best support your career and life goals right now.

[??] Social concerns: Do something that contributes to the common good.

[??] Help others: Get directly involved with helping people individually or in small groups.

[??] Public contact: Have a lot of day-to-day interaction with people.

[??] Supportive relationships: Have rewarding relationships with colleagues.

[??] Professional accomplishment: Achieve high performance and career advancement.

[??] Make decisions: Have the power to decide on courses of action and policies.

[??] Solitude: Work on projects on your own.

[??] Competition: Engage in activities that clearly compare your abilities to others.

[??] Power: Influence and impact people and/or systems.

[??] Fast pace: Work in situations where there is a lot of activity and tasks must be completed quickly.

[??] Work-life balance: Achieve a healthy balance between work and personal life.

[??] Excitement: Experience a high or frequent level of excitement and risk in your work.

[??] Wealth: Earn a substantial salary for your work.

[??] Recognition: Receive public acknowledgement for the quality of your work.

[??] Independence: Determine the nature of your work without significant direction from others.

[??] Integrity: Feel that work contributes to a set of morals that are important to you.

[??] Location: Find a place to live that is conducive to your lifestyle.

[??] Knowledge: Engage in the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

[??] Intellectual status: Become an expert in a given field.

[??] Creativity: Generate new ideas for programs, written materials, and organization.

[??] Vision: Get involved in future direction and big-picture thinking.

[??] Aesthetics: Study or appreciate the beauty of objects and ideas.

[??] Change and variety: Have work responsibilities that frequently change.

[??] Challenge: Take on difficult or demanding tasks or advance your skills.

[??] Accuracy: Work in settings where details are important and there is little margin for error.

[??] Security: Feel confident about keeping your job and reaping a reasonable financial reward.

Now determine how many of your top values are satisfied in your current work situation. Also consider how you would like these values to support you in the future. For example, if "Power" and "Make decisions" are priorities, consider what you can do to incorporate these in your everyday life, like starting your own business or looking for new job opportunities that will advance your leadership skills and responsibilities. If you're not working right now, think about how these values can help with your job search. For instance, if some of your foremost values are "Creativity," "Aesthetics," and "Excitement," then fashion, entertainment, and advertising are examples of career environments that could satisfy these choices. If your combination of essential values includes "Help others," "Social concerns," and "Professional advancement," you should express clearly in an interview with a professional contact or employer why choosing to work in a mission-driven organization is so important to you. Assessing and identifying what you find meaningful will allow you to articulate to a potential employer how you can add value to their company or organization.

In short, you should highlight your values in every stage of your job search strategy and career development, from writing a resume and preparing a social media profile to engaging in an interview and seeking a job promotion. Your values remain important themes throughout the entire story of your career.

The Seasoned Wallflower: Tom's Story

Tom is an introverted mid-career senior IT project manager who was laid off by a large corporation. Tom hadn't looked for a new job in fifteen years and wasn't sure if he wanted to return to a corporate environment that required being on call and working overtime. As we talked, I could see that Tom was sinking deeper into his chair. Like many talented introverts, he wasn't sure how to market his skills or experience, or how to speak in the kind of language that translates well to an employer via a resume, networking meeting, or interview.

After completing the values exercise, Tom saw that his top values were "Work-life balance," "Security," "Supportive relationships," "Creativity," and "Social concerns." This helped him consider new options such as foundations, government, and universities, all of which had the potential tosupport his values. More important, understanding his own values contributed to Tom's ability to answer interview questions about what made him a strong candidate besides his experience and technical skills.

Tom was able to respond to the question "What makes you a competitive candidate?" by telling the story of his career in a way that highlighted his values.

I have a strong record of assessing organizational IT problems and generating creative solutions ("Creativity") combined with a talent for cultivating relationships with colleagues, executive staff, and customers ("Supportive relationships"). I have been involved in community theater and enjoy an environment that is focused on providing cultural programs to the public. I would now like to contribute my experience and skills in a mission-driven organization ("Social concerns").

Using the profile, Tom found a new and exciting opportunity working in IT at a large foundation.

The process of evaluating your values and understanding what's meaningful to you will lead to the right words and phrases to use in all phases of your job search and working toward promotions. Armed with this information, you will find that your fear of not knowing what to say or how to say it will fade away.


The Wallflower in Full Bloom

* * *

In today's marketplace, the competition for securing a good job is steep, and demonstrating high performance is a must for advancing one's career. Introverts can rely on strengths such as creating calm and using a thoughtful perspective to enhance their position in the workplace, but it is equally important that they express what makes them unique and competent. This can be challenging to introverts if they are asked to say more about who they are or to go into detail about their strengths. This chapter takes the self-assessment process a few steps further by providing exercises to help articulate in greater detail who you are and what skills you bring to your industry or profession.

What Color Is My Personality?

Personality plays a strong role in how an employer or professional contact views your ability to work with managers, colleagues, customers, and clients. As an introvert, you might freeze up when faced with questions that feel personal because you don't like to reveal too much about yourself to a stranger or you might come across as a braggart. However, if you defer too much to the cautious and shy side of your personality, you won't come through in full color.

Ask yourself if you can answer this question quickly with four to five adjectives or phrases: "If I had a group of your colleagues here and asked them to describe you, what would they say?" Don't fret if you found this challenging. You're going to complete a simple personality characteristics exercise, and once you finish it, you'll end up with several adjectives for your job search toolbox.


Excerpted from "The Introvert's Complete Career Guide"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Jane Finkle.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: People Like Us 1

Chapter 1 Give the Wallflower a Voice 13

Chapter 2 The Wallflower in Full Bloom 23

Chapter 3 Tell Your Story 35

Chapter 4 Promote Yourself in Real Time 53

Chapter 5 Talk to Strangers 79

Chapter 6 Take Center Stage: The Interview 107

Chapter 7 Go for the Gold: Navigate a Job Offer 143

Chapter 8 Onboard with Finesse 167

Chapter 9 Survive and Thrive 191

Conclusion: Final Thoughts 213

Notes 219

Index 223

Acknowledgments 229

About the Author 231

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