Tips to help introverts succeed at entry-level jobs
Even a wallflower can get the corner office. This is how to feel more comfortable speaking up at work.
You got your foot in the door when you landed that first job, but the thought of spending your day in back-to-back meetings, messaging with co-workers, and taking client calls makes you anxious. That doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for the job or can’t keep up with the rest of your team. Your heightened stress at work is likely the result of having an introvert personality. Since most office jobs are collaborative, it can be hard to get the alone time you crave.
What is an introvert?
While extroverts gain energy from being surrounded by people and dislike being alone, introverts do their best work independently and feel drained from socializing. Unfortunately, people often mischaracterize introverts as being unfriendly or even mean when really you're simply shy.
“Introverts not only can survive, but thrive, when you use your greatest strengths—listening, observing, and curiosity—to build relationships with colleagues and reflect the company's interests in your distinctive ways,” says Karen Wickre, the San Francisco–based author of the forthcoming book Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert's Guide to Making Connections That Count.
Monster spoke to experts to find out how to leverage your introvert personality to combat five common challenges you might face at work.
You're reluctant to share your ideas with co-workers
Many people find it intimidating to speak up at work, and your shyness makes it even more difficult for you. But you need to share your strategies and insights to gain recognition.
“I encourage my introverted clients to write down their key points and thoughts prior to a meeting and prepare to participate by making at least one comment during the meeting or event,” says Richard Orbé-Austin, a psychologist and career coach at Dynamic Transitions Psychological Consulting, the New York City–based firm he co-founded.
You have trouble making friends at work
You don’t need to be BFFs with your co-workers, but you need to develop strong work relationships so you have people who will advocate for you. “Since introverts tend to be better in smaller groups, going to lunch or coffee with one or two colleagues may be a better setting for socializing,” says Orbé-Austin. Set a goal for yourself like going to coffee with a co-worker once a week, eating lunch in the common area instead of at your desk, or even just making small talk in the elevator.
You don’t manage up
In an ideal world, your boss would notice all of your metaphorical mic-drop moments and give you a promotion without you even having to ask...but really your boss is tackling her own to-do list.
“Introverts do not like to promote themselves, and feel like their work should speak for itself, which can cause their contributions to be overlooked,” says Orbé-Austin. “Make sure to schedule periodic and consistent touch-base meetings with your supervisor to discuss your progress on key projects and initiatives.” Keeping track of your wins throughout the year—and making them known to the powers that be—is critical for climbing the ladder.
You feel drained by the end of the day
Being in the presence of others can be taxing for introverts, and people might mistake your tiredness as a lack of enthusiasm. To prevent this, take short breaks to recharge.
“Create a ritual for yourself that allows you to decompress,” says Amma Marfo, a Boston-based leadership speaker. “These breaks can afford you a boost of energy until you have more time to recharge properly,” advises Marfo. Watching a cute puppy video on YouTube, taking a short coffee break, or even using a meditation app during lunch can help you relax so you are ready for the home stretch.
You feel like you're all alone
Navigating the ins and outs of your workplace can be very stressful if you're shy or introverted. That's why it's helpful to have a friend—or a Monster—on your side. Become a member of Monster for free and you'll get weekly emails filled with expert career advice sent to your inbox. You'll also be able to upload up to five different resumes just in case your current situation isn't working out for you. Recruiters check Monster every day for candidates just like you. Don't miss out on the right opportunity.