Even in a tight economy, hiring happens. However, finding suitable opportunities and landing a job is more difficult.
Part of the challenge for introverts is stepping into the spotlight and becoming more visible in the face of increased competition. Here are seven tips for conducting a more effective search.
It's tempting to say, "I'll take anything," but a focused search works best.
Identify your skills and the kinds of jobs they relate to. It's okay to pursue more than one kind of job, but you'll need separate, targeted resumes and letters for each.
Build on your introverted strengths by doing some research and developing a list of employers in the areas that you're qualified for and interested in, and visit their web sites regularly.
One of the ways employers save money is by not advertising on the well-known Internet sites or in newspapers - they simply post openings on their own web sites. They figure that if you're truly interested in working for them, you'll come to them, rather than their reaching out to find you.
Remember that hiring is a competitive process. Employers will want to know not only that you have a particular skill set, but also what sets you apart from others with similar skills.
Think about the hiring process from the employer's perspective. If you can identify the value you offer and the achievements or attributes or skills that distinguish you from other candidates, you will make yourself more attractive to the employer and provide the justification for selecting you.
As you review your distinguishing accomplishments and qualities, remind yourself, too, about the many positive attributes that introverts are recognized for and their benefits to employers - for example, good listening skills, calm demeanor, well-thought-out ideas, just to name a few.
With companies tightening their belts, it's more important than ever, when possible, to demonstrate in measurable terms the benefits you can bring or, for jobs that don't lend themselves to numerical results, to speak to the positive impact you can make on the employer.
Practice your success stories so that you become more comfortable promoting yourself.
To avoid the appearance of boasting, a key concern of many introverts, focus on citing the opinions of others, bringing a portfolio of work samples, or simply reporting the facts.
Make sure that your skills are current. Employers want added value for the dollars they spend - consider taking a course or workshop or even a short program to add a new skill set or perhaps a certification to the skills you already offer.
If you're part of an industry that is in decline, it may make sense to acquire an entirely new set of skills in a growing field.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but your search will be more productive and effective if you spend less time scouring Internet job sites and newspaper classifieds and spend more time building and maintaining relationships in which you become a resource for others.
When money is tight, many employers choose not to pay to post job openings. More than ever, they fill jobs through word-of-mouth. You will learn about these unadvertised job opportunities by cultivating relationships. Here again, as an introvert, this can play to your strengths.
The hiring process never happens on your timetable.
In a tight economy, the process may drag on longer than usual as companies and departments sort out their budgets and proceed extra cautiously.
So prepare yourself emotionally for a drawn-out process and continue to pursue other opportunities.
At the same time, follow up with companies you've already applied to and demonstrate your continued interest in being considered. If possible, find out the status of the process. Introverts are sometimes uncomfortable that they will appear to be pushy, but hiring managers want to know that you are interested.
Bottom Line: A tough economy is tough on everyone, so plan, practice, and be patient. You will find that new job, sooner or later (although hardly ever soon enough).
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 [email protected]