With unemployment figures still lagging the much debated signs of economic recovery, six people are currently vying for each job opening, and employers’ hiring intentions are down to a 27-year low. Regardless, people are still finding jobs. However, the search process often takes more time and persistence than in any period in recent memory.

If you’re unemployed, it’s important to distinguish between the factors that are in your control (e.g., how you spend your time, which organizations you target, who you reach out to) and those that you can’t control (e.g., your age, the fierce competition, if and when you hear back from a prospective employer).

If you’re an introvert who was laid off during this downturn, it’s vital to take stock of what you’re good at, which may include thinking deeply about your next steps, researching prospective employers, building strong relationships in your network, using social networking sites to exchange leads and request introductions, and writing targeted cover letters.

I’ve spoken with quite a few introverts who were laid off during the past year. In this and the next blog post I’ll share a couple of their stories. You’ll learn how they’re managing their involuntary unemployment, where they’re focusing their energies, and how they’re using their strengths to take steps forward in their careers. Here’s the first story:

I just got an upbeat call from an information technology (IT) manager we’ll call Adam Chan who was laid off from a major media conglomerate a month ago. I recently coached Chan, an introvert with an effervescent personality, as part of a mock behavioral interview program at a top graduate business school he attends part time. Great news: Chan just got an offer which included a better title (in effect, a promotion) as well as more than a 10 percent increase in his total compensation from a competing major media conglomerate.

How did Chan land this offer? “One of my co-workers gave my résumé to the professor at a class she was taking,” he says. Chan shares that the professor has contacts throughout the industry. During this first (and possibly last!) phase of his job search, Chan chose not to wear himself down by blanketing the internet with his résumé. Instead, he spread the word about his job search through his network of friends and colleagues.

“Many people seem to think that introverts are not good at dealing with people,” says Chan, who speaks purposefully, listens deeply, and asks thoughtful questions. “This is far from reality.” He continues, “Instead, introverts are often well equipped to build deep individual relationships, and this can be very useful when looking for jobs.”

“It’s never ideal to lose your job, especially in a down economy,” says Chan. “With fewer jobs and more people applying for them, competition is much more intense.” He adds: “This means that employers can take their time making decisions. So the whole process can become much slower.” Except Chan has already beaten the odds.

I ask Chan which of his strengths as an introvert he’s used in approaching his job search. “My abilities to research, work independently, and think deeply to evaluate some of the major issues faced by companies during the downturn,” he says. “Finally, I’ve been reconnecting with people from my network individually,” he adds. His friends and colleagues, whom he’s looked after throughout his career, have rallied around him, offering him strong leads and support.

Chan tells more about himself: “I’m definitely more focused internally. I love philosophy and deep thought. In fact, I used to write a lot of poetry.” He says that he finds being around too many people at once overwhelming and he adds: “Still, I have a deep desire to connect with people.”

An inveterate problem solver, Chan sees a positive aspect to the economic slowdown. “A wide range of problems are exposed as a result of weaker financials in many companies,” he says. “People with the skill sets to solve these issues really stand out,” he adds. Chan points out another silver lining: “You get a chance to see which companies have the strongest management. As the economy starts to turn, companies with strong management are the first to hire because they are poised to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Chan’s advice to other introverts who are searching for jobs: “I encourage them to set aside an hour or two every day to reach out and connect with someone from their network.” You may need to dedicate more time than that depending on how effectively you focus your job search efforts, how soon you need to find a job, and how much energy you can muster.

As introverts, we have more energy for solo activities like searching for information on the Web and less energy for social activities like going out to networking events. Allocate your time wisely and remember to allow yourself downtime so your internal search engine doesn’t get worn down by working 24/7.

Next we’ll chat with a successful account executive we’ll call Sharon Ryan who was laid off from an advertising agency earlier in the year. Despite the demoralizing experience of losing her job, Ryan has discovered that there’s plenty about her career that is in her control. I’ll meet you back here in a few days for more.

Note: I have changed the names of the job candidates I interviewed to honor their requests for confidentiality.


  • David A. Rosenberg, Breakfast with Dave: Market Musings & Data Deciphering, Gluskin Sheff, September 11, 2009, “Chart 2: Hiring Intentions Down to a 27-Year Low” and “Chart 5: The Truest Picture of Excess Labour Supply,” p. 5 and p. 6.
  • Rachel Zupek, “10 Companies Hiring in September,” The Work Buzz.

© Copyright 2010 Nancy Ancowitz

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