Shy And Introverted? Not A People Person?


I meet with and listen to many unemployed people daily. Eventually they get around to sharing the jobs they are looking for, or the career which will require going back to school. It is noteworthy that many of those people who say they would be interested in working as a Librarian present as quiet, introverted or shy. Those who don’t enjoy being around people often say working with animals is their first choice.

These statements suggest to me that some broad generalizations are being made about the personalities and skills they associate with these two professions. It’s as if they are saying Librarians are introverted, shy and go about their business with little social interaction. Likewise the Veterinarian or Veterinarian Assistant prefers to deal with animals than people.

Now both these two professions actually required a significant amount of interaction with the public; readers or animal owners. Today, I’m looking at why the shy and introverted gravitate to these two professions, I’m not talking of the professions themselves. I hope if you comment at the end, your comments are more about choices rather than defending the two careers.

I think the answer to the question regarding why shy and introverted people often name these two careers is similar to what most of us experienced when we were young children. When at play with others, we may have been a Doctor, a mommy or a daddy. Sometimes we’d pretend to be a Fireman or a Teacher. The reason we played these roles had more to do with our limited exposure to other professions in our short lives than career aspirations we had. We couldn’t play at being an Engineer because we hadn’t met any, or if we had, we wouldn’t have observed what they did. Mommy and daddy, Doctors etc. we were exposed to, and we could ‘play’ at being these people with some accuracy.

As we grew, we came into contact with people who held jobs that were new to us, and we’d say, “You’re a Crossing Guard?”, and we’d observe what they did.  With every interaction, an observation or a series of questions, we learned. The more people we met or meet, the more we learned or learn and by association, the more possibilities we considered or consider for ourselves.

In 2015 we’ve got more jobs and careers to choose from than any other time in history. There are new job titles springing up all the time. It stands to reason that with all these occupations from which to choose, some are going to be excellent fits for some personality types and others not suited as well. To categorize any one job as exclusively reserved for the introvert or the extrovert, the outgoing or the shy would be a mistake. However, there are occupations and specific companies that attract people with similar personality traits and interests. Creative and innovative musicians may be drawn to jazz music or to employers like Google. Driving a long haul rig might be a job we find people doing who enjoy both the open road and solitude.

Those who are shy and/or introverted, may have a limited knowledge of possible careers or jobs other than Librarians and ‘jobs working with animals’, where their own traits would be a good fit. Perhaps their under-developed interpersonal skills or lack of self-confidence makes conducting research into other occupations highly stressful; because it would involve interacting with people to get that very information. So not knowing how to learn of other jobs that might be good fits, and not being willing or able to approach others for help to figure things out, they revert to what they know – the two careers they learned about when they were kids that seem like good fits.

Of course both jobs; Librarian and Veterinarian are about so much more than filing books and caring for animals. There is a lot of people contact; volunteering your assistance to find materials, explaining illnesses and treatment options. Both require some pretty intense schooling and education too, which is where many fail to move forward.

Being shy and/or introverted isn’t a bad thing by the way, although like the word, ‘stress’, the three tend to be thought of as undesirable and negative. Shy, introverted people hold down meaningful important jobs all over the world and those jobs exist beyond animal care and the libraries.

If you are one of the many, many people who see yourself as shy or introverted, I imagine it would be helpful to know what your options are. You could search online using, ‘jobs for shy introverted people’. You could also check out College websites and read about careers, talk with the people you do trust to go with you to an Employment office for help. It’s entirely okay to say to a Career Counsellor, “I’m shy, coming here is really hard for me, and I’d like to speak to someone who could help me look at career options.”

Shy folks or those who don’t have great people skills have many awesome qualities and strengths; there are good jobs out there which would be ideal fits for someone just like you! Oh and by the way, not knowing what you should ‘be’ or do is a common dilemma; a lot of outgoing confident people are trying to figure out their careers too.

Risk a little discomfort and you could learn of a job that really appeals.

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3 thoughts on “Shy And Introverted? Not A People Person?

  1. Hello, yes I know people who when working want to keep to them selves, with little interaction with others, but not because they are shy, but they just want to work and get the day over with. Several others really don’t want to be bothered with office politics or gossip.

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    1. I know many of those kind of people as well Wayne. They may not be shy themselves as you say, but there are a lot of people who are shy and introverted, and this blog was for them. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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  2. I am introverted and what you say is true. I find it very difficult to approach strangers and ask them about their careers. I do have a good idea of jobs where my skills would best fit in my area from doing a lot of research online. I also volunteer and talk to people I know there about what jobs their family members are doing. Unfortunately, for me, the kinds of jobs where I would fit best are disappearing. They are either being off shored or automated. I don’t have the several thousand necessary for college, and even if I did, I don’t think with my being 61 years of age it would be worth it.

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