Best Jobs for Introverts

by BrendaReeves

Introverts make up approximately 25% of the population, and they make up a majority of the gifted population. They also pose some unique employment challenges.

Carl Jung, the famed psychologist, coined the terms extrovert and introvert. Extrovert describes those individuals whose psychic energy flows inward, gained from other people. The introverts' psychic energy flows outward, gained from solitude.

As most introverts know, today's service-based economy that emphasizes serving the public or working in teams is not geared toward such a unique personality type, therefore, job satisfaction is hard to find.

Characteristics of the Introvert

If an employer were to post a job opening requiring an introverted personality, it might read something like this:

  • Must not be a team player
  • Must work best in a quiet environment
  • Must live in their head for the majority of time
  • Must not be a multi-tasker
  • Must like to work in solitude
  • Must not co-mingle with other staff members

Of course that is hyperbole, but should such an ad appear in the classified section of any newspaper, 25% of the population would show up for an interview the next morning before the doors opened. It would be a dream job for any introvert.

Introverts love to read, work on hobbies, garden, and they love their pets. A vacation to an introvert is reading all day long on the beach or going to a spiritual retreat.

Employment poses a unique set of problems for an introvert personality. Most job descriptions ask for multi-tasking team players. So what is an introvert to do?

The Introverts Employment Search

The best place for an introvert to start job searching is in a book, titled: "200 Best Jobs for Introverts" by TheEditors@Jist and Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D. Based on the latest government data, the authors categorize six introverted personality types and then list the jobs for which they are most suited.

The six introverted personalities developed by John Holland is used in the Self-Directed Search (SDS)
  • Realistic- Jobs involve working with plants, animals, wood, tools, and machinery
  • Investigative- Jobs that require extensive thinking, searching for facts, and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic- Jobs working with forms, designs, and patterns. The work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Social- Jobs that involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people.
  • Enterprising- Jobs that involve starting up and carrying out projects. May require leading people and making decisions. May require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Conventional- Jobs that involve following set procedures and routines. May include working with data and details more than with ideas.

After identifying the personality type, the job hunter can look under each category and find the 20 jobs with that introverted characteristic. For instance, the 20 jobs with the most solitary work, lists postal service mail carrier, astronomer, and fine artists (including painters, sculptors, and illustrators) as the top three jobs.

Assesment Instruments

Most introverts already know who they are, but haven't thought about how that impacts their career choice. For those who aren't sure what personality type they fall under, a fun, free and accurate quiz may be found at the following website:

"The Keirsey Temperament Sorter-II (KTS-II) is the world's most widely used personality instrument. Since 1978, it has been used by more than 40 million people worldwide to better understand themselves, their friends, family, and co-workers." Keirsey Temperament Quiz.

Americans are very much molded by popular culture. Sometimes an individual doesn't fit the mold. Knowing this when venturing out into the job market, can save the job seeker a lot of time and lead to a rewarding career.

As Diane (not her real name), a career teacher put it:

"In junior high school, I took a career assessment test, and it indicated that one of the jobs I'd be suited for was truck driver. That was the early 1960's and no girl in her right mind would be caught driving a truck. My friends and I got a good laugh out of that one. Over the years, I took other career assessment tests and truck driver continued to come up, and my amusement continued. I went to college, became a teacher, and was miserable having to be "on" all the time. I would have preferred to have been in my head. It wasn't until recently it hit me: I have always loved getting in my car and driving for miles. Sometimes I feel like hopping in the car on the spur of the moment and driving clear across the country. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees!"

Every introvert would do well to understand who they are before applying for college or searching for employment. Today's service-based economy that requires serving the public or working in teams is not the right fit for an introvert. The introverted individual possesses strengths such as focus and patience and getting work completed in a timely manner.

They also keep company with some very accomplished individuals: Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Katherine Hepburn, Jane Goodall, Sir Isaac Newton, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Warren Buffet to name a few.

Updated: 09/20/2012, BrendaReeves
 
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BrendaReeves on 10/31/2012

Thank you Roohi. I'm also not as introvertish as I used to be, but I'm an introvert for sure. I'm amazed at the response I've gotten from this article. There are a lot of us out there wondering what's wrong with them.

Roohi on 10/30/2012

I am quite an introvert or at least I think. I do have a wonderful working opportunity though that allows me to just not get too involved with the environment. I have also grown as an individual so I am not that much of an introvert now. Wish I had read this article a few years back. It would have really been helpful. Never mind, it would surely help others. Thanks for sharing!

katiem2 on 10/19/2012

Exactly, very important point. I must admit I myself find myself often annoyed or passing over introverts mistaking them for lacking motivation. I now will give this careful thought in all regards from here out.

BrendaReeves on 10/19/2012

Thank you so much Katie. I originally wrote this for another website. I was amazed at the response that I got from it. People suddenly realized why they hated their job so much. Wives suddenly realized they were married to an introvert, and it was so hard to get them to communicate. When I worked out in the "real world" I found that my introvert style really annoyed the extrovert supervisors. I am not a team player. I prefer to work alone and problem solve alone. Nothing would have ever been invented if it weren't for introverts, and nothing would ever get done if it weren't for extroverts. lol

katiem2 on 10/19/2012

I wanted to come back and thank you for this helpful article. Since I've read it my entire thought process regarding my co-workers has changed all for the better. I'm such a dynamic and out going person I often forget the need for the introvert approach plus how helpful it can be overall. Thanks for the wake up call. Everyone can't nor should they be a dynamic leader. I tweeted this with the hash tag: #Introverts

BrendaReeves on 09/21/2012

Isn't that the truth, Cindy. Thanks for the comment.

Cindy Adkins on 09/21/2012

That's me exactly, Brenda! When I was younger I had jobs (out of necessity) that were meant for extroverts and I hated them! I knew I was an introvert from a young age but it's not always easy to find jobs that fit us. I'm SO not a multi-tasker or team player!! Every job I had in the office environment I'd get so tired of hearing "you're SO quiet!!" No one ever says to someone "you're so loud!" lol Great article!

BrendaReeves on 09/20/2012

Thanks for the comment Lil. I can't imagine a writer not being an introvert.

Ragtimelil on 09/20/2012

That's me alright. I knew that. I loved the jobs I had when people left me alone! I love teaching too, but it really wipes me out.

BrendaReeves on 09/20/2012

That's right Sheila. We need people like everyone else.


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