Suitable careers for introverts
Whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert is only one small part of the jigsaw that makes a personality.
Introverted people are often stereotyped as loners – people who don’t like the company of others, and are therefore happiest in jobs where they can work alone. This is a complete misunderstanding of what introversion is! Yes, there are some introverts who fit that description – but there are just as many who don't.
For instance, because working alone means an absence of distractions, introverts are often pushed towards jobs requiring concentration and attention to detail, like accounting. In reality, introverts are just as likely to be “big picture” people, or idealistic dreamers, who would find detail and process tedious and mind-numbing.
Introverts are not always "loners"
While some introverted people like their own company, others - especially those with few family members or friends - may actually crave a busy working environment with plenty of “buzz”, otherwise they would live fairly isolated lives.
Introverts can even be exhibitionists! It’s surprising how many performers (dancers, singers, actors) are introverts in their ordinary lives. On stage, they come out of their shell and become a completely different person. For this kind of introvert, performing is an important and necessary release.
I love the slogan of this book - "Quiet is might. Solitude is Strength. Introversion is POWER."
It's also important to remember there are degrees of introversion. If you imagine introversion and extroversion as a line, people’s personalities can sit anywhere along that line. There are people who are extremely introverted, and wouldn’t care if they never met another person; and there are people who are extremely extroverted, who can’t contemplate life without an audience. Most of us are somewhere in between.
In addition, introversion/extroversion is only one small facet of our make-up, so it can never be the sole determinant of how we best to live our lives. There are several other aspects of personality. Do you see the world in black and white, or shades of grey? Do you base your decisions on facts and figures, or on your intuition? Can you empathise with others' feelings or do you just not "get" why people are so emotional?
All these aspects of personality interplay with and influence each other, and determine your likes, dislikes, values and behaviour - as well as your best career choices. It's quite a complex job to work out how they interact. For that reason, the best way to discover your career options is to take a personality test.
The most popular and best-known test is the Myers-Brigg. You'll find some simple free versions on the net, but it's well worth paying a fee for the real thing, or at least buying a book that will give you the tools to analyze the results. Knowing what personality type you are won't help you a lot - you need to understand what it means.
I remember when I did the test, I was given an entire booklet explaining how it affected my relationships and my career choices! You won't get that kind of information from an internet freebie - they're mainly intended as a fun exercise.
It's very important to be completely honest when taking any personality test. Our society is biased towards extroversion, so introverts often make the mistake of thinking there is a “right” and “wrong” answer to the questions – with the introverted answer being the wrong one!
For instance, one question might be whether you enjoy working in a team. At work, you’ve been trained that the right answer is “Yes” because teamwork is all the rage in today’s corporations. But if the truth is you’re an introvert and would much rather work alone, a “Yes” answer in a personality test will give you a false score as an extrovert. It won’t just skew your results, but distort all the advice you might be given as a result.
So when you take a personality test, try to leave your work hat at the door. Forget how your family, friends or colleagues think you should behave. Answer as you, and you will get a much more accurate result – and advice that can really work for you.
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