Personalities — just like people — can vary widely on a spectrum, and on that spectrum lie the extremes. The problem is, not everyone appreciates those extremes when it’s unfamiliar or makes them feel uncomfortable.
This is why people are often characterized as needing improvement if they are a highly sensitive person (HSP). Sensitivity is often misunderstood and underappreciated — especially in the workplace.
But sensitive individuals have a lot to offer, and are more diverse and valuable than you might realize. In fact, you could be a highly sensitive person and not know it.
Let’s look at how HSPs and empaths can find success and fulfillment in their career, and what it means to be a highly sensitive person in our modern age.
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HSP Skills: What a Highly Sensitive Person Brings to the Workplace
Although societal expectations might make HSPs feel like outsiders or that your sensitivity is unwanted, the fact is HSPs have many valuable skills that you can utilize in the right professional setting.
Here is a list of some of the most applicable skills you can bring to any line of work, provided they support you and you aren’t in an overstimulating environment:
Ability to Focus and Think Deeply
It can be difficult to get into your flow in a busy or bustling office environment, but if you’re free of that, then you can be an extremely focused and thorough worker.
If your job is willing to provide quiet spaces that can help you focus, or is willing to support your need for independence and peace, then you can prove to be a very valuable asset to any team.
Ability to Read and React Accordingly to Others’ Emotions
Your emotions are certainly not a weakness, but an amazing strength to have. In fact, having a strong and developed emotional intelligence is an essential soft skill in business, especially in management positions.
Take note of times when you listened to others (whether coworkers or customers), empathized with them, and were able to come up with a reasonable solution or response that helped turn their experience into a positive one.
Avoidance of Office Gossip or Politics
You’re not interested in sharing your inner thoughts with everyone, and you’re certainly not interested in starting drama.
Because HSPs are so worried about making mistakes or upsetting others, you’ll most likely do your best to avoid any potential chance to get involved in drama. If that’s true for you, then you can certainly consider this a professional soft skill.
Attention to Detail
As noted, HSPs are very aware of their surroundings. You can notice subtle changes and differences before anyone else, and you can use that attentiveness in your work. Whether you’re constructing a resume or simply trying to sell your skills for a potential promotion, make sure to note how detail oriented you are, and provide some examples.
HSPs are certainly creative people. Whether you’re in a job that allows your creativity to flourish, or you’re in a job that welcomes innovation, your creative tendencies always come in handy.
HSPs require little supervision, and many actually flourish when they can be left to their own devices. Your independence is an asset in many positions that require a “self-starter” attitude.
Just make sure to communicate to your manager how important independence is to you and how it helps your work so they can avoid micromanaging you.
There are many reasons why your intuition comes in handy. You’re very in tune with emotions (both your own and others), which can help when making decisions, reading others, and delegating assignments.
You’re also very aware of your surroundings, which can help you make informed decisions about either your work or your environment. Your strong intuition also shows itself in other ways, and it can always be seen as an asset.
Loyalty is common with many introverts and HSPs. You’re loyal to those you work for because you’re unlikely to seek out change (unless you need it).
Change can be very overwhelming if it’s too sudden or major, so you might prefer staying with a business that supports you in the long run and doesn’t cause you to be overwhelmed with major changes. Considering how common it is for younger workers to job hop, loyalty to a company can be a very valuable asset in the modern working world.
However, while HSPs bring a lot to the table in a professional setting, they also often face unique challenges.
Highly Sensitive Person Challenges in the Workplace
Despite all the assets that you can bring to the table as an HSP, there are also plenty of challenges that come with your high sensory-processing sensitivity. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to succeed in a job, or that you’re unable to be a productive and excellent worker.
It could just be that you need certain accommodations to be the best version of yourself in the office, or that you haven’t found your calling yet.
If you believe you’re in the wrong field of work, it’s completely reasonable for you to start searching for a new job and possibly quit the job you’re in currently. Making a dramatic career shift can be scary for HSPs, but the benefit of finding a job that makes you feel fulfilled far outweighs the challenge of switching careers — no matter what your level of experience or age.
Some of the biggest challenges that HSPs face in the office, or jobs that HSPs should avoid include:
- Collaborative work instead of independent or individual work;
- Competitive or “cut-throat” environments;
- Confrontational jobs;
- Jobs that are strictly monitored, timed, or controlled;
- Jobs that deal with people non-stop or regularly;
- Jobs that lack a sense of purpose or are too sales or money oriented;
- Loud and hectic environments — sometimes including offices with open floor plans;
- Require ongoing and monotonous work, rather than fulfilling projects;
- Risky careers or activities.
It is in the best interest of HSPs to think about their career choices in the long term in order to avoid finding themselves in an uncomfortable professional position.
How to Find a Job
There are many options for finding a job that is a good fit for you, including:
- Social media platforms like LinkedIn;
- Job listing sites;
- Networking in your personal life;
- Professional networking;
- Networking at school;
- Job fairs;
It is particularly important for HSPs and empaths to carefully vet career options rather than rushing into them.
Best Jobs for HSPs and Empaths
Being a highly sensitive person should not limit the number of jobs that are available to you. However, working with your strengths and avoiding environments that can overwhelm you is a smart career decision to make. Because of that, there are some jobs that may work better for you than others.
Keeping your strengths and challenges in mind, these are some of the best jobs for empaths and HSPs:
There are plenty of reasons why an HSP might excel in an artistic career. Not only does it allow you creative freedom, but you can work independently and without restraints or managerial interference. You can also use your intuitive nature to create beautiful and emotional pieces of art — whether through music, drawing, sculpting, acting, or otherwise. Artistic careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Fashion designer;
- Graphic designer;
- Interior designer;
- Music tutor or teacher;
- Narrator/voice actor;
In the gig economy, artistic careers are becoming increasingly viable.
Business and Marketing
Another environment where HSPs can shine is in business and marketing. You get to show off your detail-oriented nature, as well as work within environments that provide you with independence and a creative outlet.
Marketing is also a perfect calling because your intuitive side and emotional intelligence can help you create compelling and moving marketing campaigns for your business. Business careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Business owner;
- Charity work;
- Graphic designer;
- Human resources (although this can also be too confrontational for some HSPs);
- Marketing content writer;
- Network marketer;
- Nonprofit manager;
- Social media manager;
- Software developer.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that business careers can sometimes involve a lot of interpersonal relations, which may be overwhelming for some HSPs.
Because HSPs are so detail-oriented, you can work exceptionally well in the financial sector. Plus, many jobs within this field have quiet and independent environments. Financial careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Financial analyst;
- Market researcher;
HSPs may particularly thrive in such careers if they can build a regular client base that they can get to know well.
HSPs might have to be selective with which healthcare career you pursue, but there are plenty of callings that might speak to you in this field.
Not only will your intuition and empathy come in handy — providing you with exceptional bedside manner — but you can work independently in many of these callings and can use your detail-oriented nature to keep track of patient charts.
Healthcare careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Counselor or therapist;
- Healthcare systems analyst;
- Holistic medicine practitioner;
- Massage therapist;
- Medical records technician;
- Physical therapist;
However, HSPs who are uniquely suited to such careers should bear in mind that they may feel the emotional toll of these careers more acutely than other people do.
Similar to the arts, journalistic careers give HSPs an opportunity to show both your creative side and your independent side. You may find there are many opportunities within journalism that work for you, but some of the more hectic environments (such as high-stakes journalism or busy newsrooms) don’t quite jive with your need for quiet and calm. Journalistic careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Content writer;
- Grant writer;
- Online blogger;
- Technical writer.
These careers can also serve the dual purpose of giving HSPs an emotional outlet, depending on their duties.
Natural Sciences and Animal-Related Careers
Although HSPs are highly attuned with human emotions, they can also be very attached to animals and nature. Because of this passion, you may feel drawn to conservation or animal-related careers that give you the opportunity to work independently and work alongside your values. Natural science and animal-related careers that are often a good match for HSPs include:
- Conservation scientist;
- Dog trainer, sitter, or walker;
- Pet groomer;
- Veterinarian or veterinarian assistant;
HSPs who are interested in such careers should be mindful of what their daily duties entail, and what sort of emotional toll they could potentially take.
If none of the above career paths are speaking to you, also consider these HSP-friendly career paths:
- Career/life coach;
- Clergy member;
- Delivery driver or mail person;
- Housekeeping or janitor;
- Librarian or bookseller;
- Personal or pastry chef;
- Personal assistant;
- Private investigator or detective;
- School counselor;
- Travel agent.
Essentially any career that allows an HSP to utilize their natural empathy without feeling overwhelmed is ideal.
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