I know a guy that works a behind the scenes job in a large IT department keeping the computer systems running for his company. In his position he has relatively little interaction with others. A perfect job for an introvert, right? Actually, although I am an introvert, I think his position would not have enough people interaction for me. In my job, I have a mix of working alone on projects, working on various teams, and leading teams. I know most of the people at my organization, as I have spent many years there. It is important to me to have great relationships and have a voice in the organization. I thrive on being able to contribute big ideas, being part of the decision-making process, and being recognized for great work. A behind the scenes job doesn’t necessarily lend itself to this.
My position could be held by either an introvert or extrovert, as is the case for most jobs, in my opinion. An an introvert, I bring a unique set of skills to my position and I know an extrovert would bring a different set of skills. Either could excel. Sometimes a partnership may be useful to compensate for an area of weakness.
For example, I am not a party planner, but fortunately we have party planners on our team. While I recognize that parties are an important piece of our office dynamic and contribute to strengthening our team, I personally am not very good at coming up with table decorations or planning the menu, so I’m appreciative of other’s talents in this area. We all have weaknesses whether introverts or extroverts, and teaming up with others can be essential for a strong team.
So, what is best job for introverts? My answer is the job that uses a person’s individual strengths and fulfills their needs. There are far too many stereotypes for an estimated half of the population of what is or isn’t an appropriate career choice for introverts.
I know there are probably plenty of jobs I would dread. Just the thought of outside sales sends me into a cold sweat. However, if that was something I wanted to do, I could excel by doing it in my own way, where I utilize my strengths. The way I would work would look much different than an extroverted salesperson. For example, I build relationships at a slower rate than most extroverts. Relationship-building is crucial in sales, but while some have the gift to make instant friends, this is not my gift. However, I can build strong relationships over time, and I’d also bring my strong organizational and critical thinking skills, which I could use to help guide and manage the sales process. So, while a career in outside sales isn’t my dream job, and many introverts may feel the same, I don’t think it appropriate to generalize that “all introverts” shouldn’t choose any particular career.
It may take some time to get the fulfilling work you seek. And there is probably not a “perfect” job. In most jobs, there will be some work to do that is not within your strengths. According to Donald Clifton & Marcus Buckingham in “Now Discover Your Strengths” :
Our research into human strengths does not support the extreme, and extremely misleading, assertion that “you can play any role you set your mind to,” but it does lead us to this truth: Whatever you set your mind to, you will be most successful when you craft your role to play to your signature talents most of the time. tweet
When it comes to meaningful work, it comes down to a few fundamental criteria:
Passion – when you love your work and spend most of the time working within your strengths, it doesn’t feel like work. Life is too short to dread every Monday.
Purpose – do you feel like you are making a difference? Are you making your life and the lives of those around you better?
Payment – does your work provide you the income you need for the immediate time and the long term? If someone tries to tell me money doesn’t matter, I can’t help but think they have never gone without it.
Primary Needs – does the working situation allow you to address your needs as an introvert? As an introvert, I recognize that I need some quiet time, but I also need some time working and interacting with others. Your needs may be different than mine, as you may want to mostly work alone or some other combination. Or you may need a completely quiet atmosphere, or work better when there is noise. But the important piece is to find work situation that allows you to do your best, because your needs are being met most of the time.
So, don’t fall into believing that because you are an introvert, you are limited to doing specific jobs and shouldn’t try for something you’ll truly love. There is NO best job for all introverts, but if you find a job that meets your introvert needs, utilizes your strengths, gives you purpose, and pays the bills, you’ve found a winner! Be strong!