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18/05/2013

How Shy and Introverted Job Seekers can compete for Jobs.

Some people believe that the cabinet Secretary for East African affairs, Phyllis Kandie, was not up to the task when she faced the cabinet vetting committee last week. According to a report prepared by the Cabinet vetting committee, she lacked even the minimum knowledge of East African affairs, and failed to communicate clearly. How else would one describe her qualifications and career progression, if she didn’t know any of these things? Would she have been nominated if President Uhuru and his deputy, William Ruto, believed that she was not up to the task? I think not. .  I think she is up to the task, only that she is probably shy and introverted, and wasn’t able to express herself well. So, how do you deal with pertinent career issues if you are shy and introverted?  Even though you may feel pressured to be more outgoing and extroverted, especially during your job search, don’t despair: Introverts possess many strengths, many of which are even admired by employers.

 If you haven't already admitted you're an introvert, you may need to recognize the characteristics of one. Introverts prefer to think before they act. They regain energy by being alone. They need time to formulate ideas in their heads before talking about them. They prefer depth over breadth; this is true of
relationships and information. An introvert prefers fewer deep and meaningful relationships over hundreds of contacts. Introverts also tend to dive deep into topics they're interested in. Creativity, strategizing and remaining calm under pressure are several other strengths not to overlook. Self-awareness is the first step to appreciating the desirable qualities and overcoming those that limit your career and job search.

1. Meet people one-on-one. The thought of networking in a big crowd is scary, repulsive, intimidating and many other less-than-positive descriptors to an introvert. It isn't as though they can't network--they can--they're just more comfortable meeting individuals one at a time. And because introverts are good listeners, they come across as likable. The secret to maximizing your listening skills is not to worry about what you will say next. Conduct research on the person you will be meeting with and construct a list of questions you want to ask. Feel free to write these questions down and refer to them if you need to. Introverts sometimes become sidetracked in their own thoughts. A list of questions will help you feel more confident.

2. You are not shy. Introverts tend to dislike small talk and this often leads to the perception that they're shy or unfriendly. Shoot down this misconception by developing a repertoire of questions you can use to make small talk. When you use these questions, you won't feel the pressure of not knowing what to say and you can move on to building rapport. This is particularly important when you're meeting someone for the first time.

3. Share your ideas. Introverts are strong at ideation, that is, the creative process of generating, developing and communicating new ideas. They just need time to think. In an interview situation, you may not have as much time to process your ideas and answers and formulate a confident response. With a little planning, an introvert can anticipate likely scenarios he or she can prepare for in advance. It is alright to ask for time to respond during an interview. You may even want to explain that you need a moment to formulate your answer before you speak.

4. Avoid back-to-back scheduling. When possible, build time into your day to recharge. That means scheduling an interview or meeting and allowing yourself time after the event to be alone and recharge. Be sure you ask how much time to allocate for an interview. It will help you gauge how much energy you will need to store up.

5. Tap into the power of your passion. Introverts can be passionate and when given the opportunity to speak around a topic of interest, they even exude confidence. Look and listen for opportunities to share your interests during an interview and when networking. Better yet, plan ways to gently steer the conversation toward these areas and ask questions. Undoubtedly, you will have an opportunity to share your accomplishments, and in the process, trump your more extroverted and outgoing colleagues.

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