Do you work well with others and bring energy and enthusiasm to the workplace? Are you a natural leader and networker? It’s likely you lean towards extroversion – a personality trait defined by outgoing, action-oriented behaviour.
While everyone has some extroverted and introverted traits that suit almost any type of role, it makes a lot of sense to use skills that come naturally to your advantage.
“It's traits that come without much effort that often come to the fore in the workplace, and it makes sense to focus on your natural style rather than resisting or forcing a way of being or a skill set that's not a more natural preference,” explains SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read.
Here’s how to play to your strengths in your career if you’re more of an extrovert.
What extroverts are good at:
An estimated 46% of New Zealand workers identify as extroverts, according to research for SEEK. Read says extroverts tend to have strong skills in negotiating, persuading, pitching new ideas and influencing and leading others – so it can to helpful to aim for roles and careers where they’re important.
“If you lean towards extroversion, you tend to work well with people and teams and engage in conversations easily,” she says. “You’re also good at motivating, processing emotions, networking and presenting. Often, you have higher levels of energy and enthusiasm and can tolerate change.
“When you’re at work, there might be more interaction, more energy and more talking than listening.”
What extroverts can find challenging:
Understanding that not everyone works the same way as you can be difficult if you lean towards extroversion.
“It's more difficult for an extrovert to be in a shared working space with introverts who are behaving in different ways to their own natural tendencies,” explains Read.
“If you're in a meeting and others aren't speaking up, it's easy to make assumptions – that they're not speaking up because they don't have anything to say, or they don't have expertise in the area, or they don't even care about the project you’re talking about.”
She says it’s important to consider that your colleagues may be thinking, processing and reflecting on what’s discussed.
Making the most of your extroverted traits at work
Extroverts are typically seen as good at people-facing roles and jobs that need collaboration like sales, coaching and customer service, but there are many more applications for your skills – including some unexpected careers.
An accountant who leans towards extroversion might excel in “telling the story behind the numbers”, Read says, and explaining how clients can best streamline their accounts and prepare documentation.
Likewise, a career in healthcare can be a great option for extroverts with strong collaborative skills.
“In healthcare settings, introverts may serve the end user best by taking a collaborative approach,” Read says. “A clinical psychologist might reach out to a social worker or psychiatrist to help a client access extra support. A disability support worker might liaise with a nurse or GP regarding a concern about a patient.”
Ultimately, she explains, playing to your strengths as an extrovert isn’t about the role or career you choose, or “boxing yourself into a particular job based on personality. It's about the approach and the mindset that you bring to the role.”
If skills like group work, public speaking and pitching new ideas come naturally, you probably lean more towards extroversion. Focusing on what you do well and not being afraid to think outside of roles typically associated with extroversion can help you find a career that best aligns with your personality traits.
“Celebrate the style you bring naturally and seek to align it with the kind of work you desire,” Read says.
Independent research conducted by Nature of behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4000 Kiwis annually. Published May 2023