Monday, July 21, 2014

#GIRLBOSS: Introvert Creates Job to Avoid Dealing with People—and Ends Up with $100 Million Business

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog

#GIRLBOSS“Though it may not seem like it from the outside, I’m actually an introvert.” This quote is by entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, and it appears in her new book, #GIRLBOSS.

How many of you have said this same thing? I sure have. As introverts and shy people, we can take on extroverted traits in varying degrees, depending on the people involved and the situation. For example, I can easily talk with several co-workers whom I know well. I can have an enjoyable dinner with several friends. People can mistake us for extroverts. But at the end of the day (literally), I need quiet time alone to think, get organized, and regroup.

Amoruso is founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, a $100 million online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees. I read Amoruso’s book for her advice to women entrepreneurs. But I found myself taking notes for Shy Job Seeker Blog as she discussed her introversion and also gave advice to job seekers from the point of view of an employee (a lazy one, by her own admission) and an employer.

Throughout the book, Amoruso uses the term, #GIRLBOSS, in all caps with a hashtag, so that’s how I’ll use it in this post. A #GIRLBOSS, as defined by Amoruso, is a woman who is in charge of her life, knows what she wants, works for it, and accepts responsibility for herself. Amoruso tells the story of how she developed her business, plus she dispenses advice on how to succeed in your own way.

I’ve never heard of or read a story like hers. Amoruso went from a dumpster-diving, anti-establishment dropout and shoplifter to the creator and creative force of Nasty Gal, the “fastest growing retailer,” according to Inc. magazine.

I was surprised when she began talking about her introversion in the book, because I’ve always thought introverts and shy people try not to stand out. But Amoruso, with vintage persimmon-red disco pants, hairy legs, and “crust punk” hygiene—mostly during her pre-entrepreneurship days
certainly must have stood out. Amoruso discusses the difference between shyness and introversion. She writes that she’s not shy. But she is introverted and as an introvert is drained by large groups and needs time alone to recharge. In fact, she started Nasty Gal so she could have a job that would let her be alone and not deal with people. In a point I can relate to, she describes how she can be the “queen of customer service” over electronic communication but not so much if over the phone or in person. I liked this statement in her book: “Psychologists now believe social media is a really valuable tool for introverts, because it allows them to communicate and even network on their own terms.” I also like this comment, “No way does being an introvert doom you into a life in the shadows.” Amoruso in #GIRLBOSS points out an introvert’s strengths in business, including being persistent in the face of tough problems, being very creative, and making fewer risky financial choices.

Amoruso offers a chapter on getting and keeping a job. She talks about cover letters and how she loves ones that “sing.” She discusses four cover letter mistakes. The mistakes are making the cover letter all about what you want, not explaining how your background is relevant to the job, criticizing the company, and writing poorly. Her resume advice includes being very specific about your past work to show you can navigate problems and execute ideas.

Amoruso also provides interview “no-no’s that may doom you to unemployment.” This list includes standard interview advice about dressing and acting professionally and being prepared to answer and ask questions. Unfortunately, many people do not follow this standard advice and remain jobless.

If you’re looking for an unusual, entertaining, surprising, and literal rags-to-riches story by an introvert
complete with job search and career tips—take a skim through #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Getting to the Heart of Career Choice

By Susan Pines, Shy Job Seeker Blog 

Getting to the Heart of Career Choice [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Wondering which occupation to choose? Follow the tips at

How do you choose a career?

The lucky ones just know what they want to do. Sometimes they are born knowing. My cousin knew he wanted to be a doctor since he was 5. He even wore doctor costumes for Halloween as a little kid. He has been a doctor for many years now and still loves it. I knew I wanted to be a writer since 7th or 8th grade and have never wavered. I have been an editor, a copywriter, a communications specialist, and a publisher. But every one of those jobs had writing at its core.

Some people are set on a career path by family members. Perhaps their dad was a teacher or their mom was in sales. These occupations are what they know. They follow—sometimes happily, other times unhappily—in their footsteps. When I had almost completed college, I recall meeting a fellow senior at the career center who was getting ready to graduate with an accounting degree. He told me he hated the field. He pursued accounting to please his father, and already his future was off to a sad start. I felt so sorry for him.

Other career seekers take career assessments and visit career counselors. I recommend both of these steps for anyone uncertain about a career choice. But just be sure to follow your heart as well. Recently I met a young woman who was transitioning to a career in youth ministry after five years as a nurse. She always knew she wanted to work in ministry. But her family and a school counselor discouraged her because of the field’s low pay. The counselor gave her a career test and found she would also make a good nurse. So nursing it was for five long, unhappy years, until she married a minister and gave herself permission to pursue her heart’s desire.

Other ways that people find careers of interest include job shadowing (where you watch someone do a job), volunteering, temping, and interning. These options let you try out a job to see if it suits you before committing to the career path, which may include substantial education and training. For other career research ideas, see my blog post, “Letter to Shy Young Person in Search of a Calling.” 

I also suggest occupational research. Shy and introverted people like this process because you can do it from the comfort of home. Two good resources for job information are by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The first is the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, which includes useful descriptions of the nation’s jobs and offers details on duties, qualities needed, education, pay, prospects, work environment, and more. Another option is the U.S. DOL’s website, which lets you explore careers in many ways and includes an online career assessment called the O*NET Interest Profiler; just click the start button under “I’m not really sure.”

For specific help on exploring careers that often appeal to introverts and shy people, see my blog post, “Exploring Introvert Careers That Avoid Phone Use, Conflict, Public Speaking."

I feel so bad for people in the wrong career. They spend so much of their time and their life dreading, hating, fuming about, and losing sleep over their work. Please don’t be one of these people! If you are one of these people, I hope this post helps you take some steps toward a career change.

Finally, always remember to follow your heart and your gut when choosing an occupation. When you choose correctly, you can put your heart right back into it.