Earlier this year I just finished a book called “The Introvert’s Complete Career Guide: From Landing a Job, to Surviving, Thriving, and Moving on Up” by Jane Finkle. This book was written based on the personal experience of the author who at that time struggled as an introvert in the early days of his career. This book provides guidance from finding a job, writing a CV, handling interviews, and also how to stand out in an office environment dominated by extroverts.

Before discussing what I got from this book, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the definition of introversion and extroversion.

Introversion and extroversion are not about whether we’re shy or outgoing. They’re about our sensitivity to stimulation and how our energy levels are affected by social interaction. Susan Cain offers a beautiful way of thinking about this (as relayed by Simon Sinek).

Introverts wake up in the morning with five coins. With every social interaction they spend a coin. At the end of the day, they feel depleted. Meaning an introverts loses energy from social interaction.

Extroverts wake up in the morning with no coins. With every social interaction they gain a coin. At the end of the day, they feel rich. Meaning an extroverts gains energy from social interaction.

What I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter which one you are. The question is how do you leverage what you got.

I am an introvert, and this book made me learn how to leverage that in my job.

To maintain a career, you must learn to stand out in an office dominated by extroverts. Since I work as a software engineer in a product development team, my environment is actually dominated by introverts. But the method of this book can still be applied.

One of the advantages of an introvert is his ability to observations. So we can take advantage of that in many things.

Let’s say, in the middle of a meeting you come across a good idea. But it seems difficult to convey it because your dominant coworker dominates the whole conversation. An introvert’s tendency to back away from indecision is a drawback. Because who knows he can get good results if he confident.

Before you despair and give up on expressing your opinion, calm down first. You can use your observation skills to identify problems and find the right solutions. You can rewrite what you are going to say so that you can express your opinion better.

Introverts may be more comfortable working alone. But at work we are expected to be able to work with a team. Working in a team can lead to a feeling of being left out. Then how can you contribute to a team of extroverts?

Use our observational skills to hear and feel more. If in a discussion, think carefully if you want to argue. If at work, feel what our teammates need. Help them as best we can.

The ability to stand out really needs to be trained. The practice requires a process. So just enjoy the process and keep improving.

This article is part of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. I’ll challenge myself to write whatever comes to mind.