Growing up I was always the quiet student, the quiet sibling, and now I am one of the quietest members at my startup. At the office, some may think it’s simply because I am the intern and don’t know my team members well, while others may think it is because I am shy. But the reality is, I have an introverted personality. For the longest time I believed that startups sought to hire people with big personalities. After all, loud people get noticed. Being “passionate” has become a requirement on startup job descriptions. While I am passionate, I may not be as vocal as my extroverted counterparts. This is why I was pleasantly surprised when I (an introvert) was hired by a startup.
My belief was, at first, validated when I realized that most of my co-workers were extroverts. But, even though I am an introvert in a sea of people opposite me, I still thrive. Not only is my boss happy with the work I do, I too am content. I now believe that introverts belong at startups just as much as extroverts do. In a world where startups are competing for funds, visibility, and capturing audiences, someone loud and talkative may seem like the ideal candidate. However, introverts should not be overlooked. Here are a three introvert strengths that make them true assets to startup teams:[bctt tweet="3 Reasons Why #Introverts Make Great #Startup Employees"]
1. Introverts don’t just hear. We listen.
There is a huge difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is simply perceiving sound via the ear. In contrast, listening is paying attention to what someone is saying and actually understanding it. Introverts make up for talking less by listening more. We usually let others finish their thoughts before responding. In addition, we almost always think before we speak. We will only share well-rounded thoughts and ask insightful questions. An introvert will almost never ask you what you said, but will ask why you said it. Introverts are natural self-reflectors. Therefore, the questions we ask will help you to self-analyze, as well.[bctt tweet="An #introvert will almost never ask what you said, but WHY you said it."]
2. Introverts are superb observers.
We pick up on every small detail. From our co-workers to our customers, we are the first to notice both pain points and the things that make you happy. Whether it be your emotions, the tone in which you said something, or the expressions on your face, nothing goes unnoticed. Not only are we conscious of our surroundings, but we consistently keep track of our observations. Like Sherlock Holmes, we bring up only critical observations, analyze them, and then store the rest in our mental file cabinet.[bctt tweet="Coworkers or clients—#introverts observe, analyze, + respond to emotional cues."]
3. Introverts are confident and passionate.
One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that we don’t like talking and therefore lack confidence. This is entirely false. Introverts are just as confident and passionate about their jobs as extroverts are. We are hard workers and can prioritize very well. We contribute just as much as extroverts, though in slightly different ways. Instead of being at networking events every night, we stay up late and think of new, innovative ways to further our personal and team goals.
When we do decide to leave our nests, we make few connections, but they’re lasting and worthwhile. For example, at networking events we don't feel obligated to make our presence known. Instead, we tend to spend time making conversation with only a few individuals, thereby focusing on achieving meaningful outcomes. We take the quality over quantity approach seriously.[bctt tweet="#Introverts take quality over quantity seriously in their approach to #networking."]
When it comes to interviewing, understanding the value of hiring an introvert becomes a two-way street. Introverted job seekers—make it clear from the beginning of your interview that you are an introvert, and demonstrate the value that this trait can bring. Even in an industry often dominated by extroverts, a smart startup will recognize the advantages of your introverted personality and look forward to adding you to their team.
Finally, a word to the hiring managers out there: be conscious of the difference between an unengaged candidate and an introvert. Next time you are interviewing a candidate who looks great on paper and seems hardworking but doesn’t seem overly excited throughout their interview, ask them if they would generally describe themselves as an introvert or extrovert. Ask them what interests them most about the position. You might find that "passionate" and "outgoing" are not synonymous.[bctt tweet="Hiring managers—Be conscious of the difference between an unengaged candidate and an #introvert."]
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