Jobs for Shy People: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

If you’re shy and interested in finding a job, you may be wondering: What are some good jobs for shy people?

The traditional advice concerning jobs for shy people goes something like this: since you are shy, you will feel uncomfortable dealing with people. Therefore, you should pick work where you don’t interact a lot with others.

Based on this line of thinking, several career fields and jobs with minimal human interaction are recommended for shy people, such as:

  • IT. Good jobs include: computer programmer, software developer, computer systems analyst and web designer.
  • Finance. Possible jobs are: accountant, financial analyst, credit analyst and actuary.
  • Writing. Good jobs include: author, photographer, article writer and content translator.
  • Health Care. Some nice jobs are: lab technician, researcher, equipment preparer and medical transcriptionist.
  • Blue Collar. Possible jobs are: janitor, maid, gardener, repairman, factory worker or truck driver.

While it is true that the jobs above won’t involve too much social contact so you won’t find them stressful from this perspective, there is a potentially huge problem with pursuing such a job.

In order to comprehend this, consider a few important ideas which, as a social confidence coach, I’ve discovered to be very accurate.

1. Deep down, you may actually love jobs that involve social interaction.

Many shy people I’ve coached were deep down very sociable and they loved interaction with people. But on top of that was a layer of insecurities that made them feel nervous in social situations.

However, once they managed to remove that layer, the love for social interaction became obvious. Many of them work in fields where they regularly deal with people, such as sales, recruitment, training or management, and it’s deeply fulfilling for them.

If they would have just avoided jobs that entailed social contact, they never would have ended up doing what they truly love.

2. Shy people don’t necessarily have bad social skills and good technical skills.

Many of the shy people I know are in fact very intelligent socially. They have an intuitive understanding of people and intrinsically, they have sharp social skills. It’s just that the nervousness they feel when dealing with others can inhibit these skills from manifesting.

I also know shy people who work in jobs like computer programmer or accountant and they suck at them. Because that’s not where their natural skills are; it’s just where they don’t have to face the discomfort of dealing with others.

So, it’s a big mistake to assume that if you’re shy, you automatically have an inclination towards technical jobs and lack an inclination towards working with people. You never know what’s beyond the shyness.

3. A big part of overcoming shyness is exposure to social situations.

Yes, shyness can be defeated. And right now there is an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence confirming this.

However, a very important step in defeating shyness is engaging in social interactions reputedly instead of avoiding them.

This exposure to social situations will help your brain get accustomed to them, and change your beliefs about yourself and others, thus making you more confident socially. This leads me to my next point…

4. Avoiding jobs that entail social contact just perpetuates the problem.

Shy people avoid social contact. And it’s perfectly understandable, because it’s scary. Nevertheless, considering the role of exposure to social situations in overcoming shyness, this only keeps their problem alive.

With respect to their career, shy people avoid social contact by looking for jobs that imply very little of it, it any. And they are quick to believe these are the best jobs for shy people.

I often hear shy individuals saying: “I don’t want to have to deal with others in my job. It’s demanding!”

Well, the fact dealing with others is demanding is the very reason why you should consider a job that entails dealing with others.

You can’t stay away from what scares you forever.

At one point or another, if you want to truly live your life, you need to face your fears. And a major way to do this is avoiding the “traditional” jobs for shy people and instead choosing a job that gets you interacting with people.

I’ve had coaching clients who worked, at least for a while, in jobs like door-to-door sales person or customer service representative, precisely because they were intimidating for them.

And these jobs provided a good amount of social exposure, which helped them build their social confidence.

By the way: if you want to learn how you can gain social exposure as effectively as possible and build rock-solid social confidence in literally just a few weeks, check out this presentation right now.

So: What are the best jobs for shy people?

They’re the same jobs that are best for anyone else: the jobs they have a natural inclination and passion for.

Look deep into your heart and ask yourself: “What would I really like to do if I wouldn’t be shy?”

It could be a technical job; it could be an extremely social job. Either way, that’s the path to pursue in your career.

And even if deep down, you truly want to work in a job that requires little social contact and you do have natural skills for it, you may still want for a few months to give a try to a job that requires lots of social contact. Simply because the experience in itself will be extremely useful in developing your social confidence.

Remember: the most valuable experiences in life are often the ones that you’re afraid of.

Inage courtesy of Ed Yourdon


  1. I agree with you. I’m a shy person normally, but I work as a courier driver where I walk up to strangers all day long and ask them their name and tell them to sign here please etc.
    I feel I am in control in this type of situation which overrides my shyness.

  2. I was doing underwriting for the past 12 years, which pays well and is good most of the time for shy people like myself. The downside is that the industry is volatile so I’ve had 4 layoffs in 8 years and it is VERY hard for me to find jobs when I am terrified of failing, lack confidence in my abilities and am really bad at selling myself at interviews. Didn’t help that at my last job I was constantly bullied my supervisor, which really hurts my self-esteem with getting a new job.

  3. Idalia Moreno says:

    What about a mailman I don’t think they do a lot of talking they pass all day delivering the mail.I think that could be another job.

  4. Jeremiah Cook says:

    This article is very helpful. Shy people should not think that all they can do is be an accountant or an IT guy. Those are technical jobs for technical people. Being reserved and withdrawn myself, I’ve done warehouse work the last 7 years and I like aspects of it but I want more options than just trying to find a decent forklift job on a shift I like.

  5. I have been shy my whole life, but ANY ONE who knows me says, “you need to be working with people.” Well, I do that as a social worker and I LOVE IT. I am very good at getting people to improve their lives and I am passionate about helping others. I no longer have doubts about my skills…but the office politics is what gets me as I am not good at schmoozing with colleagues and supervisors so I get bullied and at this point the bullying is what I am struggling with. If I could just work with my clients I think I’d be happier.

  6. Thanks for this; I’ve recently realised I’d love to be a police officer, but I’ve been worried that I wouldn’t be able to cope with a job like that because of my shyness. I’m working to overcome my shyness now by putting myself into more social situations.

  7. Don’t be a researcher. I spent 8 years training to do this (BSc, MSc, research role, PhD), and I’ve now quit because I can’t face the presentations. Sounds ridiculous, but having to do a presentation once every few months is probably worse than having to do it every day. I wish I’d studied something else instead, tbh. And I’m very competent, getting top marks in all my studies. But for me, presentations just aren’t worth the stress.

  8. I have been around the block several times (mid career) and am in tune with myself. I am looking for alternatives to it me: My personality is extraverted meaning I learn and think through interaction. However I suck at people skills! BIG TIME. I went to get an MBA, took sales jobs, etc. everything to get the coaching for “people” jobs, but still get walked all over and used/abused for ten years. I am an expert networker but exceptionally bad at internal people-peer management. The lack of comprehension and EI lob-sides my extreme adeptness at innovation. I am 25 years into my career, so remedial work is not a viable option – BUT, am willing to move to a country/discipline that better aligns my capabilities – any thoughts? The US seems to be a misfit (though I grew up here) in that most positions value people skills over technical or results-driven skills.

    • Dear Epoc,

      Yes, Singapore! It is a wonderful, welcoming place for all cultures and backgrounds and its economy is presently booming. Since it was once a British colony English is their official language and they attract a fair number of workers from Australia, Britain and New Zealand. Since the population is about 70% Chinese there is genuine respect for introspection and calmness, though there is a vibrancy there that I have seen no where else. Hard work, efficiency and politeness are mainstays in both social and business interactions. They are very happy people in general and the level of rime and corruption is amazingly low (though don’t even THINK about doing, carrying or selling drugs there!). It is an expensive place to live, but I’ve never been anywhere that works as hard to ensure that everyone in society has equal access to the good things in life. I would live there in a heartbeat if I could. Check it out.

  9. I am shy but also sweet, caring, blunt and quiet. I have found that being a receptionist and a nurse’s aid have worked best for me so far. It helps when you have predetermined things to say instead of trying to come up with creative/ charming things yourself. I work pretty well in the healthcare field, but I agree with the person who mentioned bullying of coworkers. One of my biggest obstacles is working with people who are pushy for their own way, and who are also reluctant to help you if you ask for help. Because when you are a shy, sweet person, it is harder to persuade a person to help you if they don’t do it out of the “goodness of their heart.” I also worry that management would think less of me because of my lack of ability to sell myself and also be aggressive in certain work areas that require social aggression.

  10. This is a very interesting article. I’ll share some of my story.

    I was so shy growing up that I’d hide under my bed until guests that would be visiting would leave. If my parents would come in my room to try to introduce me to them, I’d be hidden so far under the bed that they couldn’t find me with a flashlight–very shy.

    Seems that bullying seems to follow shyness around. I experienced it in school, and like others have commented, it exists in the workplace too even though OSHA laws prohibit it. What I’ve learned about bullying is this–don’t put up with it. Draw a line somewhere or they will mow you over. And if it’s possible–quit and find another job–the stress from bullying can create deep rooted psychological issues that will take decades to undo and damage your career path. If there’s room to take legal action, do it. That’s why the laws exist.

    For many, many years all the way up to my mid-20s, I couldn’t carry on a conversation with an attractive woman. Even if a girl was flirting with me, I’d shy away. Even though I can talk, I just couldn’t say anything.

    One thing that worked great for me was working in a call center. On the phone it doesn’t matter what you look like (to the customer)–your intelligence, sweetness, and genuine willingness to help all shine. It really helps build confidence in your own abilities to not be shy.

    I also surrounded myself with only people that are positive towards me. I completely ignored or cut out anyone negative. This let me be free to be myself and discover my own confidence in who I am.

    From there, I basically threw myself into the social of social atmospheres–as a nightclub photographer. From never stepping foot into a nightclub, I was basically right at staff level for the venue, getting a lot of respect and praise from performers as well as the clubgoers for my talent behind the camera. It’s easy to overcome insecurities when everyone thinks you’re so wonderful–it helps you to see your own inner light that can shine. That experience taught me a lot–how to talk to women without being shy, how to express myself through words, and how to really ‘own’ a room–even when it was full of hundreds of people.

    From there, I founded a website to unite the large number of car and bike enthusiasts in North Alabama. Almost overnight, 20,000+ people knew exactly who I was and liked talking to me. Between this and the nightclub experience, I feel like a local celebrity at times–that many people know of me and openly communicate with me when they see me (sometimes even in the oddest places). Having almost continuous positive communications with people helped me with shyness.

    Today, I still get shy in front of an attractive woman although I can flirt. I’m happily married to a wonderful woman that I met online and started initially communicating with via email and then phone (I love flirting with her). I’m not the alpha in a room, but I’m usually a leader among the group.

    So the takeaway? Even if you feel like you are born shy, as you grow and find confidence in yourself, you will naturally overcome your shyness. And the more effort to make to find yourself, the quicker results you’ll get. But remember–life is a journey–and your journey to overcome your shyness is part of your journey–enjoy it as it’s a part of your life and individual growth. I know I have and continue to do so. 🙂

  11. I have been imensly shy all my life to the point of avoiding at all costs some interaction, meetings ,courses and even family occasions. i took to drink to help me but the drink took to me, I stopped drinking and felt better however having now not come to terms with my shyness at 55.I now find I will be made redundant and face a world out there I know nothing about.
    I believe I am intelligent however my confidence is my enemy I also I feel guilt for all my life not coming to terms with it. I guess I wont be on my own.
    I’m interested in comments relating to this article.

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