For the Leader in You

Does Your Personality Type Really Determine Your Career?

Does Your Personality Type Really Determine Your Career?

Within many careers you will often see a large percentage of people of very similar Personality Types, which describe a person’s preferences for taking in information, judging that information, as well as extraversion and introversion.  The pertinent questions are:

  • Does that mean a career is in practice limited to a particular Type or few Types?
  • Are you wondering whether you’ll succeed if you choose a career that doesn’t somehow align with your Type?
  • And since Personality Type doesn’t change during your life, does that mean that you’re only fit for one career, that very same career that your college counselor advised you to choose?

Hardly so! Let’s look at three very different Types and see if their career options are really so different.

For example, if you prefer Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judgment, your Personality Type is ENFJ. Your Type typically is most satisfied with a career that provides an opportunity to make a difference every day and to help people achieve their full potential. This Type is generally energized by positive change and naturally enjoys meeting other people and discovering what matters to them. Therefore, people with this Type often choose such jobs as teachers, college career counselors, writers, journalists, politicians, talent directors and human resources managers.

However, many INTPs (preferred functions are: Introversion, Intuition, Thinking and Perception) also choose a career in counseling or advising. Only sharing one of four preferences with an ENFJ, INTPs can be drawn to characteristically ENFJ careers by different aspects of those careers.  In this example, for INTPs it’s the desire to work with possibilities and to satisfy the audience, and constant search for new challenges. Other common career choices for INTPs are software developers, anthropologists, lawyers, photographers and more!

The third Type I’d like to consider is ESFP (those who prefer Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling and Perception). Guess what, this Type also often chooses careers in consulting and coaching and is often quite successful! That’s my Type and the one Paul Tiger in his book Do What You Are describes as the “Don’t Worry – Be Happy” Type. ESFPs love learning from hands-on experience and juggling multiple projects, enjoy variety and spontaneity, all of which are the things that a career in coaching and consulting can offer. Among ESFPs there are also many early childhood education teachers, emergency room nurses, photographers, travel consultants, organic farmers and what not.

I was a lawyer for 11 years, but was not fulfilled in that career at that particular firm.  I jumped off of a cliff and quit with only a part-time job at a non-profit run by a friend lined up. I found my current career through the exploration of Type via the Type certification workshop, which I took, in part, to help me figure out “what’s wrong with me that I don’t love being a tax lawyer? I learned to appreciate that my Type’s hard-wired preference for practical solutions (Sensing) and for people (Feeling) coupled with my extraverted desire to frequently collaborate would work for me as a coach.  As many Perceivers do, I didn’t have much of a plan to start my own business, but just began coaching clients who needed support to step into their power.

The good news is that there are 16 Types and many careers that can be fulfilling for each Type. You can identify your Type and read the detailed explanation of your four preferences here:

Of course, Type is not the only factor that determines your career choice. There are many others, such as your education and experiences, and more. The important takeaway is that there are successful people of all Types in all occupations. For example, a few years ago, as part of the National Council For Behavioral Health’s Executive Leadership Program, I led a Type program.  Among 28 of the nation’s leaders in mental health who took the Type assessment, there were ten different Types.  And all those people were very successful and enjoyed their work.  Since then I’ve seen every Type successful and fulfilled as a leader in behavioral health; they just do it differently. So the good news is that if you are passionate about a field, you can be successful!

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