Those who struggle with social anxiety often fear social interaction, being judged, and being negatively criticized by others.
When it comes to jobs, anything from searching for jobs, the interview process, and the job role itself can prove challenging for those with social anxiety:
In This Article
Below are some job suggestions for those who have social anxiety. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t limit yourself because of your social anxiety.
If there is a career that you are passionate about, there are ways in which you can make it flexible so it works for you.
If you find that your social anxiety is proving debilitating and preventing you from your desired career path, you can consider seeking therapeutic help to build your confidence.
If you have a creative flare, then an artistic career such as being a graphic designer may be suitable for you.
Many people who struggle with anxiety find that art is a useful way to manage their emotional distress. Turning this into a career can be an enjoyable role with many ways in which graphic designers can work.
This role is not so socially demanding, with only some direct interactions with clients or the company that you work for.
This would be suitable for someone who is socially anxious and enjoys spending time alone to focus on their work.
However, you should also consider challenging yourself by attending art exhibits, presenting your work, and networking with other artists as a way to overcome your social anxiety.
If you find spending time with animals rewarding, many jobs may be suited to you.
These can include being a zookeeper, dog trainer, pet groomer, or veterinary technician.
These roles will require some social interaction, but the attention will primarily be on the animals. You may also find that working with animals is soothing and that you get reciprocal affection from them too.
You can keep challenging yourself by interacting with clients and other animal care professionals.
Those who do not speak a lot, such as people with social anxiety, can often be deep thinkers.
So, whilst they may not feel comfortable communicating verbally, they may find that writing is an outlet they can use to get their point across.
There are many writing opportunities, such as writing content for a company or website, running a blog, writing poetry, and writing books.
It can be a difficult career to get into, but there is the option to work for a company or to be a freelance writer. You may also work remotely or in an office with others.
There will often be some socializing such as with the people you write for in order to get feedback and propose ideas for content.
You can also challenge your social anxiety by attending conferences, networking with other writers, and giving presentations about your work.
If you are good with numbers, you may enjoy being an accountant. There are opportunities to work independently or for a company. There will usually be some interaction required but not too much to overwhelm you.
If you focus on your abilities as your strengths, you can become very confident in your work.
You can also learn to challenge your social anxiety by attending meetings with clients and networking events to meet others who share your skills.
As a business owner, you work for yourself, set your own schedule, and be responsible for your own success.
While you will have to interact with customers or suppliers, you will not have a supervisor watching over you, which can be a relief for some with social anxiety.
You can also hire people to do jobs that you don’t enjoy, such as more social duties. Just make sure not to delegate all social responsibilities to others to ensure you are still challenging your social anxiety.
If your strengths involve noticing details, problem-solving, and focusing for long periods, you may enjoy a career as a computer programmer.
There will often be some level of interaction required, but employees are generally more valued for their analytical skills, with communication skills being less important.
If you don’t mind sitting in front of a computer for long periods, this is a good job to enable you to work independently.
However, make sure to challenge your social anxiety by talking to your co-workers and taking on projects that require more social interaction.
Being a mental health therapist may not seem suitable for those with social anxiety since this involves social interaction with many people, often on a one-on-one basis.
Although, if you have the ability to emphasize and understand someone who may be going through similar struggles as yourself, this can make you a valued therapist.
You are likely to be a good listener and attentive to your client’s needs and allow them plenty of time to speak. This position can also give you unique insight into your own struggles at the same time.
Challenges when searching for a job
Someone with social anxiety may feel anxious when searching for a job.
They may overanalyze the job’s responsibilities and may dismiss any job which involves socializing, working with customers, or with a large team.
Due to this, they may limit themselves to what job they can do, and it can be distressing trying to find a job that is just right.
Likewise, a lot of job opportunities can be found through networking with others which can be extra challenging for those with social anxiety.
They may not feel confident enough to reach out to others or even respond to opportunities proposed by others.
Challenges during the interview process
Interviews can be incredibly scary for someone with social anxiety. The whole premise of a job interview is to be judged for suitability for a role, which can be challenging for anyone.
For those with social anxiety who fear being judged, interviews can exacerbate their fears.
During the interview, someone with social anxiety may experience a lot of physical symptoms associated with anxiety, such as blushing, shaking, and being short of breath.
They may become worried that the interviewer can see that they are nervous, which can worsen the symptoms.
They may come across as too quiet, shy, or not confident during the interview process. Many people with social anxiety dislike being put in the spotlight and answering questions they haven’t prepared for.
They may find their mind goes blank when asked a question, stumble over their words or give an answer which doesn’t portray their knowledge and abilities.
They may worry they come across that they do not know very much if they struggle to answer questions posed to them.
Many people with social anxiety may even turn down offers for interviews for jobs they really want for fear of being negatively criticized and judged in the interview.
Challenges in the job role
As an employee, social anxiety can cause anxiety symptoms while thinking about work, when getting ready for work, whilst at work, and after dealing with stressful situations in the workplace.
Those with social anxiety may be so worried about making a mistake in their role that they are constantly on edge.
When mistakes do happen, they may spend longer dwelling on them than others may. They may believe that others are annoyed with them or think they are incompetent if they make a mistake, and they may dread returning to work the next day.
They may fear authority figures and be reluctant to ask for help or advice from their supervisor.
Also, they may fear negotiation regarding their salary and may be less likely to ask for a raise or promotion.
This means they may miss opportunities to take on more responsibilities or earn a higher income. Someone with social anxiety may be less likely to apply for promotions or take on any roles where they may have to lead people, run meetings, or give presentations due to the social fears these duties come with.
Depending on the job, there may be social interaction required with clients, a team of co-workers, or customers, which can all come with their challenges for someone with social anxiety.
For instance, challenges that can come from working with customers can include being expected to make small talk and deal with complaints or rudeness from customers.
Someone with social anxiety may become very distressed when criticized by customers as this may reaffirm their own worries about themselves.
Consider what is best for you
When choosing a job, it’s important to find what is best suited to you. The job should be well suited to your interests and skills but shouldn’t intensify your anxiety symptoms.
You can start by considering what gives you the most anxiety, whether interacting with strangers vs. people you know or large groups vs. smaller groups.
While it may seem easier to choose a job where you can work from home, it is likely that isolating yourself from others can worsen anxiety over time.
The best job for someone with social anxiety may be one that is hybrid, meaning there is a mixture of working from home and at the workplace.
Any job with some aspect of social interaction is good for overcoming social anxiety.
Make sure to focus on what you want and not necessarily pick a job to suit your social anxiety. If you have a career goal in life, you shouldn’t let social anxiety limit your potential.
Focus on your strengths
Think about your skills outside of socialization and use these as your selling point to employers.
Rather than pretending that you are a good communicator, persuader, or presenter, focus on promoting your strengths, such as:
Strong work ethic
Attention to detail
Research the job role
When exploring different career options, ensure you spend some time researching the role requirements so you can be confident that the work will be well suited to you.
If the role involves giving a presentation every week and you know that this is out of your comfort zone at the moment, the job may not be right for you.
Moreover, pay attention to the work culture. Many workplaces are not so supportive, have unhealthy pressures placed on their staff, or can be toxic in nature.
These environments can make asking for help or getting clear expectations hard, and you will not likely feel at ease or confident in the role.
When you are new to a job, make sure to ask lots of questions so there is little uncertainty about your role. No one will think that your questions are stupid when you’re still getting used to the job.
The issue is that sometimes people with social anxiety do not ask questions when they are new to a job because of their fear of socialization and not wanting to bother people.
Then, months or years down the line, they are forced to ask a question they should have asked when they started, which can then cause issues.
At the start, it is also useful to ask who you should contact if you have questions or concerns so you know you will be approaching the right person.
Don’t be so harsh on yourself
In an interview, you may think that you need to give all the perfect answers straight away; otherwise, you feel like a failure.
However, it is fine and often respected if you ask for a few moments to consider your answer to a question you have been asked. This can allow you some time to take a breath and gather your thoughts rather than rushing out an answer.
Also, remember that if you slip up or get your words mixed, the other person is not likely to think about this once the interaction is over, so try not to dwell on it.
To overcome anxiety, the biggest thing you can do is to be willing to do things that make you uncomfortable. People often find the urge to avoid any social anxiety triggers as this brings instant relief.
However, avoiding these triggers can make anxiety worse. Instead, set challenges to be social at your job, such as starting conversations with co-workers, following up on what they said their weekend plans were, and small talk can show you are approachable and interested in what others have to say.
By gradually exposing yourself to what you fear, you can slowly build your confidence and discover over time that social situations shouldn’t be feared, and they can instead bring fulfillment to life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can drive social anxiety in the workplace?
There are many ways in which social anxiety can be made worse in the workplace:
Uncertainty about the role
A lack of a supportive work environment
Suspecting co-workers think the individual performs below expectations
Unproductive behaviors such as procrastination and reduced communication
A high workload
Workplace evaluation, such as progress meetings
What are some possible consequences of having a job with social anxiety?
Some negative outcomes of having a job while struggling with social anxiety can include the following:
Reduced job performance
Increased levels of distress
Reduced job satisfaction
Poor workplace relationships
Impaired skill and career development
Missing work, quitting, or not being able to hold down a long-term job
Can people with social anxiety thrive in socially demanding jobs?
Some regard social anxiety and being quiet in the workplace as a sign of weakness.
Especially in western cultures where those who are natural leaders and are greatly confident are often valued and are likely to strive in their careers.
However, this does not mean that those with social anxiety cannot thrive in socially demanding jobs.
Many people with social anxiety may actually make better leaders since they can be good listeners and show empathy and consideration towards others, which are good strengths to have as a leader.
It may be that those with social anxiety must try out different kinds of jobs before realizing what they are better suited to.
As long as they find a job that suits their interests and skills, people with social anxiety can find that they can thrive in their jobs.
How well someone with social anxiety does in their socially demanding job can depend on what stage they are in their treatment – if they are receiving treatment.
If someone with social anxiety is receiving therapy, they may be encouraged by their therapist to challenge themselves at work and to take small steps to build their confidence.
However, if someone is not receiving treatment for their anxiety, they may not recognize the worth of challenging themselves past what is comfortable. It is important to remember that social anxiety is treatable through therapy and/or medication.
As treatment progresses, they should be able to overcome some of their barriers to social situations.
Being able to manage the symptoms of social anxiety can better equip someone for jobs that are socially demanding.
How can socially anxious people cope with their socially demanding job?
Many people with social anxiety can push themselves into socially demanding roles and work well.
They may be able to present themselves as a socially competent person, almost as if they wear a mask specifically for work.
They may find socially demanding roles challenging at first. Still, after being in the job for a while, they may find that things get easier for them, as they may have repeated the same social interactions multiple times and come to realize nothing bad happens.
Despite being competent at work, many people with social anxiety can feel exhausted by the end of their workday and value time alone to recover when they return home.
They may find ways to cope when they are anxious and engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
It is worth noting that there are many socially anxious people who are extroverted in nature. These individuals crave social interaction (which is what brings them energy) but are simultaneously fearful of social situations.
It may be that those who are socially anxious extroverts are better at having jobs that have more social interaction compared to socially anxious introverts.
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