There are two races on earth. Those who need others, who are distracted,
occupied and refreshed by others, who are worried, exhausted and unnerved
by solitude as by the ascension of a terrible glacier or the crossing of a desert;
and those, on the other hand, who are wearied, bored, embarrassed,
utterly fatigued by others, while isolation calms them, and the detachment
and imaginative activity of their minds bathes them in peace.
-- Guy de Maupassant
Acclaimed short-story writer Guy de Maupassant died in 1893, before the word extrovert was a word, but he clearly had a good grasp of the introvert-extrovert concept. We tend to think of the personality traits as being relevant for how we socialize, but they can make a difference in our working lives, too. Some jobs are better for each kind of personality than the other.
First, let's explain who we're talking about when we use the word "extrovert." The distinction between introverts and extroverts has a lot to do with how we recharge ourselves -- with extroverts drawing energy from being around other people and introverts recharging alone.
It's estimated that most people -- between half and three-quarters of us -- are extroverted. Researcher Dan Buettner offers this description of extroverts:
These "social butterflies" thrive under social stimulation. Extroverts focus on their external environment, the people and activities around them. Extroverts thrive in active, fast-paced jobs, such as politics, teaching and sales, where quick decisions are commonplace. Extroverts learn by doing and enjoy talking through ideas and problems. Multi-tasking comes easily to them. Two examples of famous extroverts are Oprah and current U.S. President, Barack Obama.
Best jobs for extroverts
Here, then, are some of the best jobs for extroverts. If you're an outgoing people person, see if any of them appeal to you -- or perhaps one of them is already your line of work!
- Teacher: Whether you work one-on-one with students in a special capacity, or you're a typical classroom teacher overseeing several dozen students throughout the day, you'll be busy with human interactions all day long. People skills will come in handy as you try to make new concepts clear, get to know your students' personalities and needs, and maintain order, when needed.
- Therapist: You can't be much more of a people person than if you're listening to and interacting with them all day long -- in this case, while helping them work through various issues. Much of this work is done one-on-one, but there are many couples and families seeing counselors, and group therapy sessions, as well.
- Project manager: A project manager has to coordinate and shepherd a project, keeping in touch with a lot of different parties, such as customers, suppliers, technicians, and so on. The position exists in many industries, and a project might be a new building, website, or healthcare initiative. Event planners are another kind of project manager, juggling many different aspects of an event such as a wedding, or a business's trade-show presence.
- Salesperson: Salespeople are well served by extroverted personalities that have them enjoying interacting with others -- talking, listening, and persuading. There can be quiet paperwork time, too, but salespeople will typically be selling much of the time, whether by going out to see clients and prospective clients, or by staying in the workplace.
- Hairstylist: Hairstylists have no shortage of people with whom to socialize with and draw energy from. They can have conversations with multiple people per hour, often all day long.
- Healthcare provider: Doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, dental hygienists, opticians, and many other jobs in the healthcare field are well suited for extroverts because they, too, involve dealing with a steady stream of people -- patients. Countless conversations with patients happen throughout the day in order to assess conditions and discuss treatments -- and there's often a lot of interaction with colleagues, as well.
- Financial advisor: Like many of the jobs above, a busy financial planner will spend many work hours per week talking to clients and potential clients -- asking questions, explaining financial issues, and recommending strategies. Many drum up new business by offering free seminars or talks, which require good presentation and/or speaking skills.
- Human resources specialist: Most companies of a certain size have a human resources department tasked with overseeing employees and their pay, benefits, and well-being. Being in such a position can have you in multiple meetings throughout the day, welcoming new employees, having conversations with employees who have grievances or questions, sitting in on various management meetings, and so on.
- Public relations specialist: Working in the field of PR, you'll be focused on communicating messages about your client(s) to the public and troubleshooting when bad press happens. You'll often be dealing with calls to and from the media and will be in meetings with clients, as well.
- Restaurant worker: Whether you manage a restaurant, or are a waitperson or cook in a busy kitchen, there'll be people all around you, and you'll be interacting with them much of the time.
- Coach: There are many kinds of coaches -- sports coaches, life coaches, nutritional coaches, and so on. A good coach will be inspiring and motivating, either working one-on-one with clients or with large teams.
These are just some of the many kinds of jobs in which extroverts can do well. Of course, each has its own educational and training requirements, and expected incomes vary widely. As you think about what kind of job will suit you best, take into account not only your fields of interest, such as biology or history, and your skills, such as writing or organizing, but also your personality. Don't forget to consider other things, like whether or not you're a night owl and what the best future career path may be.