5 Things Every Introverted Recruiter Can Do to Thrive at Work

June 4, 2018

If you’re anything like me, you may have trouble making presentations to a large group of people or even speaking up in a meeting. You get nervous talking to someone for the very first time and you may feel tired after being with people all day.

You’re an introvert. Welcome to the club.

And, that’s not a bad thing. You have empowering qualities that should be celebrated: You’re thoughtful about what you say—especially in a group setting—and you’re highly attuned to others’ feelings. Because of that, you’re often able to connect with people on a deeper level.

As a recruiter, some of these qualities are amplified since the role requires you to speak with people, including strangers, regularly in order to help your business hire talent. But don’t worry—you aren’t alone: About 50 percent of the population is thought to be introverted (recruiters included). Because of that, we’ve put together five tips you can use to help you shine in an industry that prides itself on being all about the people:

1. Always do your research before talking to candidates

For some introverts, it’s easy to feel a little anxious when it’s time to speak with someone new. So, if you need to talk to or hold a meeting with a candidate, it’s best to do your research ahead of time so you have your talking points in order and can feel more at ease.

“Introverts generally like to think things through before they speak,” writes Susan RoAne, an international professional speaker. “For that reason, practicing before a big meeting or interview can be a great tool for ensuring that you have the right words ready at the right time.”

This is advice that’s particularly useful, according to Forbes’ Christina Park, for three different reasons. “First, you show that you really care about your work and are invested in the outcome,” according to the magazine.

Additionally, being able to collect facts before a meeting can help you “gather your ideas in an organized fashion.” The third reason: “Preparation allows you to identify potential problems” before you start a conversation (and in this case lead to a more productive conversation with the candidate).

After all, introverts can sometimes have what’s considered “high-functioning anxiety,” so it’s always best to do your homework to learn a candidate’s background history and some personal facts.

2. Practice presentations and pitches with your colleagues

As a recruiter, you probably need to give presentations from time-to-time. But as an introvert, you may abhor doing it. That’s common, though.

Take Susan Cain, the author of Quiet Revolution: Unlocking the Power of Introverts and the speaker behind the highly popular TED Talk on the same topic, as a prime example. In a personal essay, Cain reveals that she, too, hates giving presentations.

“The mere prospect of giving a lecture used to make me want to throw up. Literally,” she writes. “Once during law school, I got so nervous that I had to bolt for the restroom on the way to class. (I can’t believe I’m admitting this to the entire blogosphere.)”

She points to a famous quote from Malcolm Gladwell as a source of inspiration: “Speaking is not an act of extroversion,” he says. “People think it is. It has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

With this in mind, Cain has some compelling advice that’s sure to help you. “I think this is liberating—that it’s okay to pretend a little when you’re on stage. Who cares if you’re not a natural storyteller?” she says. “You can craft your stories beforehand, practice them, and share them—for the brief moment that the spotlight is on you.”

And, if you find yourself nervous when trying to sell your company to prospects or attending campus recruiting events, try working with colleagues ahead of time to give yourself a confidence boost.

“Do as many practice runs as you need. Pitch people who aren’t familiar with your business or with investing. Your parents, friends, a stranger, even your kids are all fair game,” writes Ricky Pelletier for Entrepreneur. “You want to get down to the essence of what you do, and make it as simple as possible. Some you can give your elevator pitch, others the entire presentation. If they understand it, then your potential investors will, too.”

3. Send follow-up emails or talk one-on-one after a meeting if you need more time to reflect

Let’s say you forget to mention something when speaking with a job candidate (it happens to the best of us, but for introverts especially) or even a colleague. If so, the art of the follow-up can be crucial.

The SHRM article by Susan, for example, states the following: “Even with the benefits of planning and allies, it’s not uncommon for introverts to realize that they didn’t share everything they wanted to say at a meeting or event—or to think of new ideas or feedback after they’ve had more time to reflect."

One introverted HR manager has a solution. In an interview with SHRM, Eileen Gabaldon says she’ll approach a co-worker the next day if she forgot something during a meeting with colleagues. “‘After the meeting, I thought of this option/solution,’” she’ll tell the person, and will then “lay out [her] plan in a one-to-one conversation. That way, I make my contribution and manage my introverted side.”

4. Embrace your gift of making personal connections with others

Introverts are known to be highly empathetic people, so it’s no wonder they’re lauded for making deeper personal connections when compared with their extroverted colleagues.

And this penchant for moving past the small talk and sparking human connection at work as a recruiter can be helpful in general. Introverts can make for stronger networkers as a result, according to bestselling author David Burkus. For recruiters, this means instantly making a connection with the prospective employee and making him or her feel comfortable.

“Small talk might seem like a way to stay professional in business settings by avoiding overly personal topics,” according to the publication. “But the truth is, when it comes to networks, business is better when it is personal.”

Embrace your ability to spark a human connection with your candidate—and enjoy the powerful conversation that follows. However, looking for common ground when interviewing a candidate can lead to bias. Take Airbnb, for example, which overhauled its recruitment process to cut out unconscious bias a few years ago after discovering that making personal connections with candidates actually biased the team to favor that candidate over others who they had less in common with. “It turns out that actually the best way to bias yourself in an interview is to find the commonality and start there,” says Jill Macri, Airbnb’s former director of global recruiting.

Instead, use other ways to connect with candidates as an introverted recruiter, including giving them insights about the role they’re interviewing for, checking if they need coffee or water before starting, or seeing if they need a break during a long session.

5. Block off chunks of time regularly to recharge your batteries

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and simply need time to unwind after a long day of speaking with candidates and hiring managers, make time for yourself.

“Taking breaks to recharge and refocus the mind is important for everyone, but for introverts in particular, occasional pauses are crucial to maintaining productivity and positive well-being at work,” according to The Huffington Post’s Carolyn Gregoire, who regularly writes about health and wellness.

For example, try leaving open times during your calendar, find quiet spaces at the office, or take a few minutes to go for a walk around the block. This tactic works for LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. “In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks),” he writes. “It's a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think.”

Setting aside time will help you avoid burnout and set you up for success the following day.

*Image from IntrovertDoodles.com (check out the book here)

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