An Introvert Asks: What would be ideal jobs for introverts?

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An introvert named Paul sent me a message asking what sort of jobs would be best for introverts. Although I’m sure there are happy introverts in every sort of position, I did tell him that I myself would prefer something one-on-one like counselor, or just working alone, like writing or doing very technical work in the background. In the comments please share with him your own ideas and experiences.

One thing I’d be curious to hear some input on would be ideal jobs for introverts… I say this having gone through a couple of sales-related positions, and having been miserable doing them. I’ve been looking for work for a little while now, and am curious to find out where other introverts have found success and fulfillment at work.

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IntrovertZone Update: I just bought a book a couple of weeks ago: Do What You Are : Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type–Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-careers for the 21st Century. It has been out for quite a while so you may be able to find it in your library or at a very cheap price somewhere.

The book includes chapters for verifying your personality type, then it has four chapters about temperament and learning your own strengths (and which ones you like to use publicly vs. privately).  THEN, it has a separate chapter for each of the 16 MBTI personality types. The book ends with a chapter on putting it all together and creating your personal career plan.  Looks like a great resource for people making decisions even as early as high school!

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95 Comments

  1. I just received my first evaluation at work and was criticized for keeping to myself and not being a team player (would prefer not to say what kind of work I do). My job does not require teamwork, although I do work in a group (each person works on separate projects). I’m not expecting a raise now and I’m concerned I’ll be let go by my next evaluation, although I was not warned that I would be let go. Has this happened to anyone else here? I never had this brought up in an evaluation at any other job. I’m hoping this will help the original poster as well.

  2. My job is exactly like what Claudia said below, although there’s at least one other introvert in my group, but they’ve been there a long time and neither one is quite as quiet as I am (one comes very close though, which I pointed out to my boss). Other than that, the setup and job itself are perfect for an introvert. Does anyone have any advice as to what I can do other than change my personality or quit the job?

    “Office settings can also be a problem if the culture is strongly based on politics instead of the work that needs to be done.”

  3. This is a reply to CJ – I am so sorry this happened to you and makes my blood boil! I cannot forget how unhappy I was in office settings for this very reason and many more. I agree with one of your previous posts as well where you mentioned offices worrying more about politics than with the work that is to be done. If you are not rude or mean but just stay to yourself and your work gets done, and done right, who cares? So what if you take breaks and lunches by yourself, or do not attend their gatherings or office functions. I even hated, absolutely dreaded their ridiculous “staff meetings”! OMG, torture!

    It makes me so sad and it is too bad things are this way because it makes it virtually impossible for most any introvert to be comfortable or happy in an office setting.

    I gave up my benefits nearly 13 years ago from a full-time, structured office job and even though it’s been tough along the way I now am working mainly from home (I just go out to do my appointments) and do not regret it in the least. I hope you find something that will allow you to flourish and not be dragged down by people who have no clue – just crack the whip and do not care about anyone’s feelings, only that they mingle! Unfortunately this is what our society deems “normal”. Good luck to you.

  4. This is a topic that really hits a lot of nerves, as I have been getting email updates for quite some time whenever someone else posts an opinion. I LIVED this situation until retirement and I can commiserate with so many of you. I would be “dinged” at review time and admonished for keeping a low profile because I preferred communicating by email rather than by “song and dance.” Any group activity was expected to be attended and participated in, all cringe-worthy activities that had nothing to do with work but all to do with fitting in with someone else’s idea of office culture. I always worked in accounting, a career that one might expect would demand more respect and less hostility toward introverts but that was not always the case. I have no regrets that it is over…if I had wanted to join the circus, I wouldn’t have followed this path!

    • I love it! I agree 100% with you, Jean. I still have a hard time with the 2 days each week I go out to appointments of all things, but at least I make my audit appointments on my schedule and if I have to cancel for some reason (rare, but it happens) I don’t have to worry about “getting permission” to do so, I just call and re-schedule, which is wonderful. Nobody is watching me. I mean I have to get the work done or I do not get paid obviously, but nobody is standing over my shoulder or checking on me or anything! Nobody knows what time I start working, when I go outside to check on cats, or get up from the chair to check on my inside cats, etc. Nobody times my lunch!!! Nobody knows if I decide to watch a show or maybe not do anything that day. So I am better off than some of us for sure and am thankful for that. I still want to get into writing though because that would require NO appointments whatsoever and I could do it all from home. I just need to get started somehow. Anyway I hope you are enjoying your retirement and are finally at peace! Good for you. :)

      • I was self-employed for quite some time before going back full time when one of my clients offered me a job…hard to pass up a steady paycheck and benefits when the offer was presented. One thing that always struck me as ironic…when I was billing by the hour no one was the least bit interested if I dressed up at Halloween, joined in group games under the guise of team building or led the birthday sing-a-longs…in fact I am sure they preferred that I didn’t!

  5. Introverts can do lots of things so long as they balance their energy. MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory now have a combined tool that uses not your MBTI profile (INFJ or ISTP whatever it is) and the Strong Interest Inventory to generate career options that would be most suited to you. It is not just personality but interest and aptitude that make someone happy in their job.

  6. Rita the Rebel on

    Hello — just Rita the Rebel checking in again… Yes, it has been a very long absence, and to be honest with you, it is only because I got discouraged — with everything. Things when from bad to worse and they’re getting even worse at my place of employment — all because of politics and social expectations, of course (nothing new, right?). Thanks so much for the replies, although I confess that I didn’t read all of them (again, because I got discouraged, etc., and that just makes me want to isolate myself even further). At any rate, I did take a look today and I have to say that I am so grateful that there are people out there who really can relate. (Thank you for sharing!) I cannot tell you how many times I have felt exactly the same way as you do about typical workplaces and the kinds of unreasonable demands placed upon people who do their work and do it well and just don’t want to be involved in or troubled by non-work-related stuff. By the way — aren’t we there to work? Why should we be expected to do anything else but that? Anywhooooo, again, thanks to all for your comments and your replies. It’s nice to know that there are others who ‘get it.’ So, let’s all keep marching to the beat of our own personal drummers :-) ~ r :-) PS I have been working on securing self-employment in a counselling-type capacity…although, I suspect that even my own clients will become a PITA for me, at some point! At any rate, if I have anything valuable to contribute in terms of experience-based advice or tips as I make my attempt, I’ll certainly share it with you all :-) ttfn!

  7. The best jobs for introverts (In my opinion) are home based jobs. The benefit of an online job allows introverts to work from home and not interact with the same people on a regular.

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    • I am sorry but while you are trying to promote your business, I must say that graphology is not a legitimate means of a personality test. (Most personality tests don’t work actually, and the desired results are easily faked. I’ve gotten many an ill-suited job but deceiving the exam in order to appear more extraverted than I am.) If you maintain that graphology is not a hoax, please bak it up with some research references. Thank you.

  9. It’s encouraging to read all these posts from people who think and feel the same way that I do. I still work in an office environment and understand the frustrations that go with this. The book “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe was a lifesaver for me. I wish it had existed 20 yrs. ago.

  10. Pingback: Best Jobs for Introverts and Quiet People : New Beginnings

  11. I have always worked in office environments and have had to suffer through many receptions requiring chit-chat and many “team building” meetings, workshops and retreats that involved ridiculous ice-breakers and have been a complete waste of time. I dread them and force myself through them and then get back to my own work, which does have meaning and is rewarding. In terms of getting along with extroverts and their need for constant “socializing”, I just focus my energies on offering to help others with their own projects and participating on committees, so that I am known as a contributor and team player. Very few people seem to want to connect on a deeper level, preferring to describe their last meal, their last trip, the last movie they saw, in excruciating detail. They are often surprised if they touch on a subject that is meaningful and then I get excited and passionate about it. They get quiet, then often state, “Well, I can see that you feel passionate about that” and then they move away and seek someone else for chit chat. Its funny, actually :) Over the years, I often felt very isolated and critical of myself, as others told me that I was “too serious” or “need to lighten up” or that I “think too much.” Now, I am much more accepting of myself and my own natural gifts and when I do connect with someone on a deeper level, it is exciting, life changing, and validating.

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