Not Hired? Unpromoted? Introverted?
Is your good work unappreciated? Do people with less talent get hired and promoted around you? This happens to many people—at low, middle, and high levels of organizations. Read on for perspectives and advice for introverts and those who abhor shameless self-promotion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said if you build a better mouse trap, the world will beat a path to your door. Unfortunately, for introverts and those who dislike “bragging” about themselves, success often goes to the best self promoters. Perhaps you’ve noticed that many fast food chains have great commercials and lousy food?
Marissa was dumbfounded when she was passed over for a promotion. Her department runs circles around Beth’s, but Beth got the coveted promotion. Beth constantly fills her boss’s ears with reports of how well she’s doing, while Marissa says little because everything is under control.
Marissa’s story is common for introverted people. They’re not necessarily shy, but they tend to think before sharing ideas. Their verbal skills may be fine, but they don’t always think it’s necessary to use them. In fact, to talk about their skills and accomplishments seems like bragging. They aren’t prone to sitting around chatting, and are often uncomfortable “working a room.” People sometimes see them as difficult to get to know, and their deep passions are often unnoticed.
When Marissa looked for another job, the same issue haunted her. She didn’t boast about her accomplish-ments, thinking her boss would recognize her skills. Her enthusiasm didn’t come through either. She was shocked to learn that one company hired someone else because they weren’t convinced that Marissa was excited about the job.
After a several months’ searching, Joel landed two interviews in the same week; both went well. Although he progressed to the point of being a finalist for one of the opportunities, another less experienced candidate was offered the position.
Puzzled and frustrated, Joel began to doubt his employability. He’d been told that he was far more skilled and capable than his spoken words indicated, but he just felt uncomfortable talking about his accomplishments. It felt too much like bragging. He did what he was paid to do. Why brag about it?
Whether you’re more introverted, like Marissa, or simply reluctant to talk about your contributions, like Joel, you may be compromising your ability to advance. Here’s what you can do to optimize your career prospects.
Keep Others in the Loop
If key people have no idea what you are doing, you’re unlikely to advance. Send monthly updates of your contributions to your boss. Prepare a “portfolio” with evidence and documentation of your successes, training, and kudos. You can take your portfolio to job interviews and use it for performance reviews.
Learn to Step Outside Yourself
Practice speaking about your accomplishments with a partner. Make sure your examples are understandable and that you supply the right details. Many people are unaware that they make their careers sound bland, uninspiring, or confusing. Communicating clearly about key accomplishments also brings out your enthusiasm.
Respect Your Need for Solitude
Research shows that extroverts outnumber introverts three to one. Introverts are often made to feel like there’s something wrong with them. Respect your need for some alone time and find or create it within your work environment. Don’t overbook yourself with social activities after a busy, noisy day at work.
Reach Out for Help: Avoid the Lone Ranger Syndrome
Don’t stay in your cubicle, constantly working on your masterpieces alone. One thing that helps extroverts be successful is that they ask others for help and get mentoring.
Jeremy struggled mightily with another department’s report forms–until a friend suggested he ask someone to
show him what to do. He sheepishly said it just hadn’t occurred to him. Likewise, many introverts go through their careers learning the hard way because they mistakenly believe that asking for help—even occasionally—is a weakness. By enlisting help Jeremy can be a more productive contributor.
Value Networking and Mentoring
When approached in a dignified and professional manner, most successful people enjoy helping others—and they know it benefits them in the long term. When Trisha finally got up the nerve to ask Ricardo for help with her job search, he gladly referred her to a company where she landed a great job. Months later, Trisha was able to reciprocate and help Ricardo.
Whether you’re an introvert or simply find it uncomfortable to talk about your contributions, learning to identify key accomplishments—small or large—and to articulate how they make you useful is one key to career advancement. Waiting for others to find and appreciate you is passive and ineffective. This is a learnable skill. Make it an active part of your career management process!
Thanks to the following people for referrals:
Chris Frey, Bob Chamberlin, Joanne Waldman, Nick Wexberg,
Myrna Homm, Mary Patton, and Mary Kutheis.
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