Why You Should Let Your Personality Type Guide Your Career Path

personality type and career path

You may have realised – or perhaps you’re in the process of discovering – that you have a certain personality type. This refers to what you, as an individual, prefer when you are using your mind or focusing your attention. For instance, you may prefer to spend your time in the outside world or you may prefer to focus on your inner world. If the former applies to you, then you would be called an extrovert, while if the latter rings true, then you’re probably more of an introvert. Extraversion and introversion, which were coined by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, are the two most commonly known classifications of personality type. One type isn’t superior to the other. They just mean you tend to prefer one activity over another (e.g. hosting dinner parties vs. reading).

Isabel Briggs Meyers was an author and co-creator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-report questionnaire that helps individuals figure out their psychological preferences, in terms of how they view the world and make decisions. Briggs Meyers said, “It is up to each person to recognize his or her true preferences.”

One of the key benefits of understanding your personality type is that it helps you decide on the career path that is right for you.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test

You can take the Myers-Briggs personality test online and find out which of the 16 personality types best apply to you. These 16 types are organised by four pairs of opposite traits:

  • Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I)
  • Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)
  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)
  • Judging (J) and Perceiving (P)

Everyone possesses both traits in each pair. However, one is usually more dominant than the other; for example, extroverts are energised by the company of others, whereas introverts are more comfortable with solitude than extroverts are. One trait from each pair is then combined from a trait from the other pairs to create a four-letter abbreviation. This is the personality type. One example would be INTJ: introversion (I), intuition (N), thinking (T), judgement (J).

Since we’ve already touched on the definition of extraversion and introversion, let’s examine the other traits.

Sensing individuals are interested in what they can perceive in the real world. Facts and pragmatism are emphasised.

Intuitive individuals thrive in the realm of imagination and ideas, rather than what is out there in the world.

Thinking individuals place great importance on objectivity, rationality, and logic. Feelings are not their main priority.

Feeling individuals care more about emotions and expressing them. This doesn’t mean they are irrational; they just tend to be more open-minded, sensitive, and empathetic by nature.

Judging individuals like to come up with strategies and plans before they act. Going with the flow is the opposite of this. They are organised, reliable, responsible, and have a good work ethic.

Perceiving individuals desire freedom. They don’t want to be tied down to something if there’s something better available. They are opportunistic and adept at improvisation.

Personality Type and Careers

The 16 personality types have been given names that allude to their suitability for specific careers over others. For example, INTJ is ‘architect’, ‘ENFP’ is ‘campaigner’, ISTJ is ‘logistician’, and ESFP is ‘entertainer’. Another personality test – one specifically designed to help employers match roles with candidates – is the SHL Personality Test.

Now, you may already have a sense of what your personality type is based on the degree subject you studied. A degree in chemical engineering is very different from philosophy, which itself tends to attract different kinds of people compared to theatre and dance.

However, if you choose a degree based on your personality type but not your career, then you could end up becoming extremely dissatisfied with your career choices. You may leave university with the impression that you should apply for the kinds of jobs everyone else is applying to – those that carry certain markers of ‘success’, such as high salary and status.

Given the highly competitive nature of the graduate jobs market, you may feel you have no choice but to apply for all the graduate jobs you possibly can apply for and take the very first offer that falls on your lap. Realistically, though, you will be a bit selective with your job search. Perhaps you will look for jobs that seem interesting to you. But you shouldn’t just be looking for jobs with this very narrow parameter of ‘interesting’ because, if you don’t factor in your personality type, you could end up hating the job.

During your job search, you have to be honest with yourself. Can you actually picture yourself doing this job – in this particular work environment – and thrive?

Don’t feel guilty about being selective in your job search. This doesn’t make you picky or entitled. It means you are being realistic, sensible, and thoughtful about your career path. When you find a job that is suited to your personality type, your work will energise you and provide you with a deep sense of fulfilment.

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