Job hunting is an activity that should favor the highly sensitive person. Counterintuitive? Not at all, and here’s why: HSPs are, in theory, deep thinking and good at big picture tasks. In that sense, HSPs should have a better grasp on where they’ve been and where they wish to go career wise. HSPs should also have the upper hand in writing pieces like resumes, cover letters, and curriculum vitaes. Again, why you ask? Because HSPs are, typically, more detail oriented and deeply conscientious people. HSPs are also intrinsically creative and should be more open to different ways of describing themselves and their experiences.
The article makes some good points about the nature of the resume and cover letter as marketing tools. People too often think of the resume as a simple list of positions held and responsibilities, but overlook the utility and worth of the resume as a way of tailoring one’s experience, education, and interests to a position. Similarly for the cover letter, people too often think of it as a form letter and manage to grab no attention in the opening paragraph. I suggest that we reframe how we view these documents and think of them as sales tool to sell YOU!
That last point will make most HSPs, who do not enjoy being the center of attention, cringe and wince, but the truth is you need to acquire the marketing skills to market yourself in the competitive job market of the 21st century. Too often, HSPs are dealing with leftover faulty perceptions from childhood: low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, underdeveloped potential, or underachievement. All contribute to holding back potential and depriving you of some of the great positions that exist now and in the future. None of this will matter if you do not do the inner work on yourself to allow yourself to simply BE without overthinking it or attaching a label to it.
I suggest that instead of thinking of the challenges of being an HSP, you begin to think of the strengths and the potentialities, several of which I have mentioned. Begin to use your detail-oriented mind to relate your experiences, education, and interests to jobs you want; begin to reach out (yes, reach out) to other people and network like you mean it; and always carefully craft your job hunt in a way that is tenacious, bold, and crafty. As the article says, ” fortune favors the bold” and HSPs, at least using the mediums of email and letters, have no reason to not take bold steps to get the job they want. Anything else you can cultivate as well.
With all this in mind, I want to talk to you for a minute about working environments. We know from research, specifically a theory called Vantage Sensitivity, that people who are high in sensitivity tend to do better than those without the trait if they are in a supportive and positive environment. Similarly, in a negative environment we tend to not do as well. The moral here is HSPs MUST have positive working environments and positive environments in general. Let’s qualify that, though, so we do not fall prey to a misconception: your working environment does NOT need be 100% positive or supportive, just more supportive than it is not. Obviously, the more supportive, the better, but do your best to find the best supportive environment you are able, at the present moment.
What about when a working environment becomes negative or unsupportive? Vantage Sensitivity tells us, and the theory has been tested with thousands of participants across dozens of studies now, that high sensitive people will not do well in an unsupportive environment. This does not mean that you leave your job because of one bad day, indeed, expect that your job will likely only be positive in an overall sense, acknowledging you will need to take the good with the bad. If your job begins to feel like it’s tipping more toward the negative you will have to weigh, knowing what you now know about Vantage Sensitivity, if you wish to remain in an environment that drains you more than it fills you.
Lastly, I encourage you to invest in yourself! There may be few people who believe in you because you may be quiet, maybe didn’t finish college, or some other circumstance, but the world is not going to beat a path to your door. It is up to you to invest in yourself and acquire the skills and education you need to take advantage of opportunities, some very good, in the job market. This may mean a degree, or it may mean shorter-term training, it may even mean unpaid volunteer experience to get your foot in the door (something I have done) until you have the clout to demand more. Invest in yourself, be your own parent, be your own best friend, be your own biggest cheerleader or coach.
There is no inherent limit in what you may achieve as an HSP or a human being. You may have things you need to work on while you are trying to do something else and that’s fine, we all do, even at higher levels. Realize, though, that you can accept a limited life or you can take the ambiguous and uncertain road of developing your innate abilities and capacities and find ways to apply those in the world. It’s about cultivating what is, at its heart, an entrepreneurial and creative orientation that seeds opportunities, cultivates them, and grows multiple ways of doing and being in the world. Maybe you will love working for a great company, or maybe you need to work for yourself, I don’t know. What you will need to do is think of yourself as worthwhile, your potential as only limited by your perceptions and courage, and life as a one-shot opportunity to express something of your essence as a full-spectrum human being.
Thrive: The Highly Sensitive Person and Career (now in audio book form as well as print and e-book)
Thrive: The High Sensation Seeking Highly Sensitive Person (now in audio book form as well as print and e-book)