I’ve recently become fascinated with Myers-Briggs personality types and how much insight these distinctions in personalities can reveal. Not only can knowing your own personality type help you understand your own behaviors and how you interact with others, it can provide you with a lot of insight into your professional life and how to find a career that best aligns with your preferences. As a career coach, I’ve found it to be a helpful tool for many of my clients. I wrote a short article about Myers-Briggs personality types previously, but I felt the topic was worthy of a deeper dive.
Here’s an overview of how it works. Basically, the theory behind Myers-Briggs is that behaviors which seem to be random are actually quite predictable based upon our perceptions and judgements. There are 16 different personality types, which are determined by an individual’s preferences in 4 different categories, as follows:
1. Preference for a focus on the inner world (Introversion, “I”), or the outer world (Extroversion, “E”);
2. Focus on basic information as it’s taken in (Sensing, “S”), or on interpreting and adding meaning to the information (Intuition, “N);
3. Preference for logic in decision-making (Thinking, “T), or on people and special circumstances (Feeling, “F”); and finally
4. Preference for getting things decided (Judging, “J”), or being open to new information (Perceiving, “P”). HINT: The J’s love making plans; the P’s love spontaneity and an open calendar.
So each letter represents the preference in each category, totaling 16 distinct personality types based upon preference in each category. The test takes less than 12 minutes and can provide a lot of insight into your behaviors. In particular, knowing your personality type can give you a great deal of insight into the best career path for you. Here is an overview of the 16 different personality types and the career implications for each type.
People with this personality type are practical, factual, organized, and logical. They’re great problem-solvers who thrive in careers that are heavy with facts, numbers, and data. They make excellent accountants, engineers, air traffic controllers, and security guards.
ISFJ’s are warm and sympathetic, but also detailed, organized, and thorough. They are natural protectors, so they tend to thrive as health care professionals or working with children, but because they are so detail-oriented, they also do well in positions that work closely with money, like bookkeeping.
Sensitive, creative, and intense. They thrive with language and symbols. They long for meaning in their careers, and because they are adept at reading people, they do best in the arts, medicine, education, and science.
Decisive, innovative, insightful, and logical. They’re able to apply their big-picture thinking along with their problem-solving skills, which makes them best-suited for work in very technical careers like architecture, science, and engineering.
People with this personality type are very hands-on and are analytical, practical, and exacting. They are natural troubleshooters and problem-solvers, so they do very well in careers with computers, electronics, and technology, but they also thrive in the outdoors so are well-suited for farming and ranching as well.
This personality type is gentle, adaptable, observant, and loyal. They’re sympathetic and reflective and love to help others, so they are natural born teachers, nurses, and coaches.
INFP’s are creative, empathic, and inquisitive. They’re natural helpers and are deeply caring. They tend to have excellent communication skills, so they make great writers, and they thrive in other artistic positions as well such as musicians, graphic designers, and in language arts.
Individuals with this personality type are intellectually curious but also analytical, objective, and conceptual. They thrive as architects and engineers, as well as in various scientific fields and in construction.
Smart and energetic, they make great entrepreneurs. They’re realistic, analytical, and efficient. They have solid people skills, so they’re awesome in sales, and they’re best-suited for careers that don’t require a lot of routine.
Energetic, caring, resourceful, and adaptable. Hands-on. They’re enthusiastic and seek excitement, so they make fantastic performers. They thrive when helping others and working closely with people, so ideal career paths include hospitality, health care professionals, and food service.
Individuals with this personality type are imaginative, creative, insightful, and caring. They’re very service-oriented and have great communication skills. They do best in careers where they are helping others and/or being creative, so they’re great as counselors, fitness trainers, and therapists, as well as artists, actors, dancers, and musicians.
This personality type tends to be energetic, analytical, enthusiastic, and theoretical. They are adept at solving problems creatively. Because they work so well with others, they make great leaders—they thrive as executives and can function well in a variety of different fields, including business, the arts, and even sports and media.
People with this personality type are logical, assertive, decisive, and results-oriented. They’re critical and tend to take charge, so they’re natural-born leaders. They make excellent executives and are diverse enough to be successful in a wide variety of industries.
ESFJ’s are sociable, caring, and very people-oriented. They’re most successful in roles that enable them to serve others and fulfill their needs—nurses, doctors, childcare workers, and teachers, to name a few.
ENFJ’s are passionate and charismatic. They’re sociable, warm, empathetic, and imaginative. Born leaders, they have strong humanitarian values and do best in positions that allow them to help and support others. They’re great communicators and enjoy working with people, so they are great teachers and counselors, but they also thrive in the arts.
Individuals with this personality type are organized, critical, and logical. Organizers and planners, they’re strong leaders and very career-driven, so they thrive in the corporate world. They’re exceptionally hard workers and do very well in the following industries: legal, engineering, scientific, sports, and even the arts.
Regardless of your own specific personality type, having some insight into your tendencies and what type of role and environment best suits you can certainly help guide you professionally, especially if you’re at a crossroads in your career. Not everyone is suited for working with detailed spreadsheets, in the same way that not all people need to express themselves creatively through their work. Some individuals thrive when working closely with people, but others work best independently. Embracing our diversity and acknowledging the differences in us all can help use those differences to our advantage, to find the best fits for us professionally, and be our best and most productive selves.