Social butterflies rejoice: finding your dream career as an extrovert
Mar 23, 2023
If you would describe yourself as outgoing, sociable, and personable, you probably lie somewhere on the extroversion spectrum. Psychology Today estimates extroverts make up 50% to 74% of the population, so at least half of us experience highly extroversive behaviors. These ‘social butterflies’ thrive under social stimulation through face-to-face interaction. Being high on the extroversion spectrum can bring challenges and benefits in the workplace. Furthermore, certain jobs can be better suited to extroverted personalities. If you thrive on social interaction, finding a job that matches your personality type could lead you to a happier and more fulfilling work life.
To understand more about what jobs best suit extroverts, we spoke with Marina Field, a doctor in Social-Organizational Psychology, Career Coach, and HR lecturer. Her advice aims to help people on the extroversion spectrum find a career complementary to their personality type.
What is extroversion?
Some people will be more extroverted than others, as everyone falls along the spectrum. This spectrum ranges from high introversion (the opposite of extroversion) to high extroversion. “It’s uncommon to have someone who is 100% extroverted or 100% introverted, for that matter,” says Field.
In general, extroverts tend to gain energy from being around other people. They tend to flock to the center of the party and enjoy socializing. Field explains how to tell if you fall along the extroversion spectrum. “Where you get your energy is a huge way of identifying if you’re an extrovert or introvert. If you’re energized by being around people, you’re more likely to be on the extroversion side because, for example, introverts get their energy from being alone.” Getting your energy from social situations makes people believe extroverts are more approachable and confident, which can affect your career and daily work life.
How does extroversion come out in the workplace?
As with many things in life, balance is key. For extroverted people, there are a variety of advantages and disadvantages related to their personality type at work.
Advantages for extroverts at work
Extroverts tend to be outgoing, assertive, active, and dominant. Field adds, “Research has found extroverts to be more likely to be in positive moods.” This can mean that your coworkers flock to your positive energy. With extroverted personality behaviors, you can use your social influence to pass early screening interviews more successfully. Extroverts enjoy collaborating with colleagues and personal interactions in the office. Because of their ability to make people feel comfortable around them, extroverts thrive on making connections.
They also tend to request constructive feedback for their work, Field notes. She adds that this “translates to more promotions and higher salaries.” With that, “being an extrovert is more correlated with career and life satisfaction.” Extroverts are generally seen more favorably in work environments as they easily build connections with colleagues.
Challenges for extroverts at work
However, not all of these behaviors are sunshine and rainbows in the office. “Isolation during the pandemic would have been harder for extroverts because they didn’t have regular contact,” Field notes. Remember, extroverts are more likely to seek social support from their colleagues and enjoy socializing with people in the office; therefore, they’re more likely to want to return to the office, at least on a hybrid schedule. Field warns that this doesn’t mean we should all return to the office. Rather, she promotes a flexible schedule that works best for your personality.
Some weaknesses around being high in extroversion can be found in their strengths. “Sometimes they can have too much of a good thing.” Field explains that extroverts can be too assertive or too dominant at work. “They can dominate a group or conversation, so some extroverts might have to learn how to give space to other people and not monopolize conversations.” Extroverts are gregarious people who enjoy frequent interaction, so they need to be aware of other colleagues who fall more on the introversion side of the spectrum. Since they have high self-confidence, extroverts can potentially take on too much responsibility, which means they struggle to meet expectations. These challenges can be overcome by ensuring you are in a stimulating environment. So what jobs are best for extroverts?
Best jobs for extroverts
Field uses psychologist John Holland to explain her methodology of choosing career paths for extroverts. Holland found that people who need help with career decisions can be supported by understanding their resemblance to the following six vocational personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Field explains that Social and Enterprising are the top vocational personality types associated with extroverts. She notes that you can test yourself with the O*Net’s Interest Profiler and search for roles by these codes. The test will give you a primary and secondary trait.
The Social personality type
This personality type is more concerned with how other people are doing and human welfare in general. Field adds, “social individuals are more humanistic, idealistic, and ethical. They also have high social and interpersonal skills and are concerned with the welfare of others.” They enjoy teaching, explaining, solving problems, and leading discussions. In terms of competencies for people that fall into the social category, Field mentions public speaking, teaching skills, the ability to empathize, as well as social and interpersonal skills.
They focus on human relationships, enjoy social activities and solving interpersonal problems, and, therefore, enjoy working in groups. They prefer work environments that encourage teamwork and social interaction. Field recommends jobs like teacher, counselor, social worker, and the medical field like nursing or physical therapy. Most helping professionals would be suitable for these extroverts.
The Enterprise personality type
This personality type focuses on relationships, being part of group activities, and helping to develop others. Field says, “enterprising types are very social, optimistic, aggressive, and adventurous. So activities where you are selling, managing people, giving speeches and presentations, dealing with financial organizations, and politics.” Field mentions public speaking again, selling, leadership, resilience, and social and interpersonal skills regarding competencies for people in the Enterprise category. They are invigorated by using their interpersonal, leadership, and persuasive abilities to obtain satisfaction but may avoid routine or systematic activities. They prefer jobs that reward them through obtaining money, power, and status.
That translates to jobs like sales and managerial roles within organizations as they tend to be leaders, which equates to extroverts getting promoted more than introverts. “Any job where you are in front of people, like teaching, being a financial advisor, or working in marketing,” Field explains. She adds that jobs in politics or event planning would also be suitable roles for this personality type.
How to break into an industry that better suits your personality type
Field offers some general tips for breaking into a new field of work if you are looking for a career that fits your personality type better.
Use networking to your advantage
Extroverts are social beings, so networking should come naturally to them. Not only are they good at it, but they also enjoy it, so Field says to take advantage of that. “First, let everyone know that you’re looking for a job, especially people already in your network. Then identify events to go to related to your specific field of interest,” Field adds.
She explains that if you’re clueless about where to start, you can visit a website like Eventbrite and look for things happening in your location and industry. “This will allow you to connect with people that are working in your field of interest and this can lead you to meet new people.” Ask these new contacts for a 20-minute informational interview with you to discuss how they started and what they are doing now. Field warns to keep these meetings short so as not to take up too much of their time.
Upskilling and reskilling
In terms of upskilling, there are a lot of low-cost options. If you have yet to gain experience in your target industry, you can start with places like LinkedIn Learning. “Sometimes you can access LinkedIn Learning through your local library, so there’s one way to get around the cost,” Field recommends. Taking a community college class or going for free options through sites like Coursera and YouTube can also be helpful.
Field recommends going to conferences in your interest industry. “You can learn cutting-edge techniques, what’s happening in the industry, and where the holes and gaps are that you could potentially help fill,” she says, and you can also use them to network. Podcasts are also another great way to learn new skills. There are tons of podcasts for all different industries, so finding some that interest you shouldn’t be hard. Field suggests subscribing to newsletters, too, as a way to learn new material or get an idea of this new career.
Volunteering your time to gain professional experience
Volunteering with an organization is a great way to gain experience. Take the example of teaching, which is an excellent job for extroverts. “You could offer a class in an area you’re well versed in. You could charge for it or not, but just getting teaching experience is good,” says Field. If you don’t feel comfortable teaching right away, start tutoring one person and then branch out when you have more confidence.
Event planning is another job suitable for extroverts, so start by holding your own events or volunteering to plan the events for charities or community events. Anything that will get you additional experience in a field you are just starting in.
If you like being social, stay in the limelight
Extroverts, or people that lean more toward extroversion on the spectrum, get their energy through social interactions. They need social jobs that allow them to lead and help people. They like action and enjoy an ever-changing work environment.
Remember, we all fall on a spectrum, so it’s important to determine how high or low you fall on it before seeking your next job opportunity. For everyone, including extroverts, finding a job that fits your personality type is vital for a higher chance of long-term success, career satisfaction, and superior performance. Being an extrovert is only an advantage if you learn how to connect it to your skills and abilities.
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