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Ask the Introvert: Working your way is secret to innie career success

"While I can’t speak for the often-mysterious ways of hiring managers, I do think that how, when and where we work can make a job more appealing to introverts"
sharon glassman ask the introvert
Sharon Glassman (Photo courtesy of Sharon Glassman)

What’s an introvert? How does introversion affect us at work and play? In our friendships? In our search for meaning and happiness?

I’ll explore these and other timely questions about introvert life in this column, as an introvert entrepreneur, artist and journalist. 

Want to ask a question? Just use the email below.

P.S.: even if you don’t think of yourself as introverted, you may find some helpful info here. Why? Because, to paraphrase Ben Franklin: we assume our differences divide us, only to find we share common ground.


Today’s introvert-astic question comes from Kate in Lyons: “Would an extrovert be more likely to get certain jobs than an introvert and vice versa?”

Thanks for asking this great question, Kate.

Introverts and employment is such a rich area to ponder.

And, while I can’t speak for the often-mysterious ways of hiring managers, I do think that how, when and where we work can make a job more appealing to introverts.

Asynchronous is so innie 

Have you noticed that folks who can work from home report being happier and more productive? 

Yes, some extroverts miss the social and creative aspects of being around other people on a daily basis. But for introverts, less interaction can be an energy booster. Explaining that can be tricky.

Several zillion years ago, at my last corporate job, I asked my boss if I could WFH so I could be a more productive and creative member of our team.

Her response was typical of the time: “How do I know you’ll be working?” 

Then, she returned to her paper status report, which had 12 layers of different colored carbon paper designed to externally confirm to her that, yep: a whole lot of work was going on.

External engagement is the hallmark of many jobs.

But introverts need quiet time and space to think, ponder and recharge. We perform our tasks when our energies are at their peak. And then? It’s time to recharge. All of which makes being a consultant or freelancer good innie career options.

For example an introverted graphic designer might design a logo at 3 p.m. (or 3 a.m.) and auto-schedule an email to send it to their client the next morning.

Then? They recharge with sleep, meditation, eco-therapy. By the time client feedback rolls in, our introvert’s customer-service side is up and running. 

Deep thinking works for introverts, too

Remember how we talked about Descartes a few columns back?

The philosopher who coined the idea of thinking as being illustrates an introvert working on and with their skillset.

Now, jobs as cognitive philosophers/mathematicians aren’t likely to be advertised a lot on Monster.

But positions that prioritize quiet thought over team meetings, staff meetings, Zoom meetings (are you seeing a thread here?) do exist.

Research is one area that can offer this inner balance. And speaking of research? It might be useful to research introverts in fields you find potentially appealing.

A quiet, one-on-one conversation could follow. And who knows where things could go from there?

Hello, entrepreneurship

Whoah!  Are you as surprised as I was to see Warren Buffet in this list of successful introvert entrepreneurs

Personally, I think Susan Cain, author of “Quiet,” belongs on this list, too. And a new discovery, speaker/author Jennifer Kahnweiler.

These last two entrepreneurs illustrate a modern kind of meta-introvert career path.

But using your talents to make the world a better place in a way that works for you? That’s an introvert classic.

Looking at you, Leonardo da Vinci, Madame Curie, Pema Chodron. 

And here’s to all of you introverts working your career your way


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The thoughts and opinions offered in this column are intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. Use of this column is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice.