I connected with Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D., the author of a wonderful book called The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength.
We met on Twitter, spoke on the phone, and subsequently met in person. The principles in her book focus on succeeding in an extroverted business world, but they apply just as effectively to the process of finding and landing a job.
This article is my adaptation of her “4 P’s Process” to the job hunt.
The 4 P’s Process contains four components that enable introverts to improve performance on the job and in the job search. Here’s how it works.
Preparation means having a strategy and a plan, and it provides the solid footing that can boost an introvert’s confidence. For example:
- Research the job and employer before creating your resume. As you write the resume, make sure you use appropriate keywords and accomplishments that demonstrate your expertise and your qualifications for the targeted job.
- Determine what message you want the prospective employer to take away about you after an interview – develop success stories that illustrate your ability to do the job. Draft answers to frequently-asked questions so you won’t be caught off guard.
- Find out about people you’re going to be networking with. Get a list of participants prior to a group event and contact key people ahead of time to let them know that you’d like to meet. Prior to (and during) a one-on-one conversation, explore how you might be a resource to the other person.
It’s easy as an introvert to get lost in your own thoughts. Being “present” means being in the moment, being focused on what’s going on around you – in other words, focusing on the outside world. Doing so enables you to connect with others – which is a key part of the hiring process – and to share with others some of your internal activity that they’re not aware of.
In those moments during a job search that stir up some nervous energy, such as a job interview or a networking encounter, focusing outwardly decreases the anxiety.
- Approach a job interview as a collaborative problem-solving meeting, where you are concentrating on finding out what the urgent problems are that the hiring manager needs the person he or she hires to address. Your ability to understand what the employer’s needs are will help you tailor your message appropriately both during the interview and in your follow-up communications.
- If you’re intimidated at the prospect of a networking encounter, focus your attention on what’s important to the person you’re meeting. Your ability to listen and tune in to the other person will make a positive impression – and if the other person is an extrovert, you’ll be creating an opportunity for the extrovert to do what extroverts enjoy most – to talk!
Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone. This doesn’t mean you should be something you’re not. (The message applies to extroverts, too.)
You’ll be more successful in both professional and personal endeavors if you are able to more fully develop the skills that don’t come most easily to you. Having the versatility to select the skills that are most effective for a given situation simply gives you more tools in your toolbox.
- Challenge yourself to add one additional networking activity to each day – or, if that feels too exhausting to think about, perhaps it’s one every other day, or one a week. But increase the level of networking. You’ve probably leveled off into what feels comfortable. Step it up a notch. Keep it manageable, so you don’t burn out, and give yourself recovery time.
- Think about the job search process and analyze what activities you avoid or resist. Figure out if there’s a piece that you can do just to start things rolling – you don’t have to bite off too much at once, but try something that you’ve been avoiding.
Not only does repetition improve your skills, it also reduces the anxiety associated with activities that feel uncomfortable or awkward.
- Review and rehearse common interview questions, particularly variations on the “tell me about yourself” question (appropriate versions for different audiences). Get comfortable speaking about what you do, what kind of opportunities you’re looking for, and the contribution you can make to an organization.
- Break down difficult activities into simpler steps and practice them individually (just as you would work your way up from musical scales to chords to complicated arrangements). Applying this to networking, you might make a phone call that’s inconsequential to your job search, such as scheduling a haircut or a dentist appointment. Then call a friend and ask for job search advice or for a contact. Then call the networking contact.
Using the 4 P’s Process can help you capitalize on your strengths while building those “muscles” that are less well developed. As you continue to master those skills, your confidence will grow, along with your effectiveness.
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., is a workplace and careers expert and author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength (Berrett-Koehler, $19.95). Founder and president of AboutYOU, Inc., an Atlanta-based leadership consultancy, she is an executive coach and corporate speaker. Contact her on the Web at AboutYouInc.com and JenniferKahnweiler.com.
About the author…
Wendy Gelberg is a Career Navigator at JVS CareerSolution in Boston and author of The Successful Introvert: How to Enhance Your Job Search and Advance Your Career. She is a certified career coach and resume writer whose expertise is in helping people who are uncomfortable “tooting their own horn.” Wendy writes resumes, gives workshops, coaches individuals, and writes articles and blogs on all aspects of the job search process. Samples of her resumes and career advice appear in over 20 books. Wendy has been a career coach and resume writer for over 15 years. She has been an introvert her whole life. Contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org.