Q: I’m a young professional. I would describe myself as an introvert. My reserved nature seems to clash with the apparently mandatory skill of ‘excellent communication skills’ that I so often see in job specs. I feel I am at a disadvantage when compared to more outgoing people. Any advice will help. (BC, email ).
A: You are right on your perception. We tend to think that having excellent communication skills is a critical component of career success, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
Your outgoing friends may seem to have an easy way of achieving their goals. And as I mentioned, it is a perception: the reality is that introverts have unique qualities that can serve them to achieve great things.
Introverts and extroverts are viewed as polar opposites. We are conditioned to think that we are one or the other. The reality is that our personalities generally lie somewhere in the middle. And all of us have a place and value in the work environment.
It is true that some individuals or hiring managers may have that old-fashioned view of introverts. But it seems like things are changing in the work environment. More companies are starting to recognise the value of introverted candidates because of their potential.
This may surprise you, but introverts are a great addition to any company. There is a long list of valuable traits that you may have overlooked. They are often good managers, trustworthy, introspective and curious.
Introverts are good at listening and observing. They are better at taking in what is going on in their environment Extroverts may be talking and thinking what to say next: they may not hear what is really going on. This trait allows introverts to have a better quality of interaction with others.
A more reserved person will also be able to make informed decisions by carefully listening to all parties – and that decision may well be accepted because of the respect they showed by listening in the first place.
Introverts often like to work on their own, away from the noise. Their reflective nature makes them think before they act. They tend to like to bring clarity to their objectives. They plan and organise to avoid surprises.
They may not need much input or feedback to start a project. They are independent, a quality that can fit very well in an overworked team or project or the face of a punishing deadline.
Individuals with those traits are great thinkers. While others are chatting, they are thinking. They have that extra time to analyse and make a plan. That can lead to significant problem-solving skills and creativity in their approach.
Let me finish by saying that there is room for all types of personalities and traits. Perhaps, in the past, companies looked favourably at the outgoing type. However, management is increasingly aware of the amazing traits more reserved personalities can bring to the table.
I believe that now more than ever diversity in companies is the way forward. Embrace and own what you can bring to the job and you will be successful. Don’t try to be someone else. And that last piece of advice goes to introverts and extroverts – it is important to be true to who exactly you are.
Sli Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com ) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com