This is the fifth blog in a series related to my publication, The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change. If you’ve been following this series, skip the next paragraph.
If you’re new to this series, here’s a quick recap. I am sharing information from the book chapter by chapter. Early in the book, I introduce the A.S.T.E.R. Career Model, which I created to help others make smoother career transitions. The acronym stands for Assess, Seek, Test, Execute and Repeat. Assessment requires that you discover (or rediscover) your V.I.N.E.S., which stands for Values, Interests, Natural disposition, Exceptional strengths, and Skills. To see previous posts in this series, click on one of the following links: 1st post, 2nd post, 3rd post, 4th post.
This blog will focus on your natural disposition and how your personality preferences can inform your employment choices and work environments that could be a good fit. Many people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality assessment, and this is a useful starting point for this line of self-assessment. I acknowledge that there is plenty of controversy about the Myers-Briggs. Naysayers tear it down while advocates defend it. Regardless, I continue to utilize the framework because I have found it to be consistently helpful in gathering one piece of the puzzle when helping clients explore career options.
In case you are not familiar with the Myers-Briggs (MBTI), I share a summary below. I simplify things to keep the blog to a reasonable length, but this framework can be quite complex. If you want to dive deeper into your MBTI type, I suggest you make use of the free resources shared at the end of this post and/or hire a career professional to help you interpret your results.
According to the Myers-Briggs framework, there are four dichotomies to describe our preferences, elaborated below. Our preferences can be best understood on a spectrum from slight to very strong. 16 different MBTI types exist when all possible combinations of preferences are combined. They are INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, ENTP, INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, ENFP, ISTJ, INTJ, ESTJ and ESFJ, ISTP, ISFP, ESFP and ESTP. No one type is better than another. Each has valuable qualities and areas for development.
1) The first dichotomy relates to where you direct your energy and how you interact with the world. The options are Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I). Though I acknowledge that introverts are often misunderstood, many of us are familiar with these terms, and the labels are the easiest to grasp. People who strongly identify with Extroversion are often interested in people and things and draw energy from activities and people in the outside world. People who strongly identify with Introversion are often interested in ideas in their minds and draw energy from their own emotions and impressions.
With the other category headings, it’s important to not give too much weight to the labels because they are more nuanced. For example, Sensing doesn’t mean that you rely upon your senses, and Judging doesn’t mean that you are a judgmental person.
2) The second dichotomy relates to how you gather information and whether you most often focus on the present or the future. These two options are Sensing (S) vs. iNtuitive (N). People who strongly identify with Sensing are often interested in what is real and focus on what can be seen, heard, and touched in the present. People who strongly identify with iNtuitive are often interested in what can be imagined and focus on what might be and the future.
3) The third opposing preferences are Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F). This preference is related to how you make decisions and relate to others. People who strongly identify with Thinking are often interested in what is logical and focus on organizing and structuring information to make objective decisions. People who strongly identify with Feeling are often interested in what’s important and focus on organizing and structuring information to make value-oriented decisions.
4) The final dichotomy is Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P). These options relate to how you present yourself and how much structure you prefer. People who strongly identify with Judging are often interested in organizing and focus on living a planful life. People who strongly identify with Perceiving are often interested in adapting, trying things out, and focus on living a spontaneous life.
To sum it up, the four dichotomies can be expressed as E vs. I, S vs. N, T vs. F, and J vs P. With one exception (iNtuitive), the first letter of each preference is combined to express the personality type. For example, an ESFJ type is someone who prefers Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging. An INTP type would be someone who prefers Introversion, iNtuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.
There is another lens to view MBTI Types, and that is thanks to David Keirsey. His research boils the 16 MBTI types into 4 temperaments.
- NT’s are called the Rationals, and they include the types INTJ, ENTJ, INTP, and ENTP.
- NF’s are called the Idealists, and they include INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, and ENFP.
- SJ’s are the Guardians and include ISTJ, INTJ, ESTJ, and ESFJ.
- SP’s are the Artisans, and they include ISTP, ISFP, ESFP, and ESTP.
You can go to www.keirsey.com to find out your temperament and take the free assessment on the website. It can be useful to try both assessments to see if the four-letter type for you is consistent between the two results. If not, it may be something to explore further with a qualified professional.
WHY DO PREFERENCES MATTER IN YOUR CAREER?
Some inferences might be apparent. For example, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to understand that people who prefer Extroversion will do better in jobs that require a high level of contact with others and that people who prefer Introversion will be a better fit for jobs that require quiet introspection and long periods of working alone.
However, interpreting the other letters may not be so obvious. To shed some light on these, I will share a few examples below.
S vs. N: Someone who prefers Sensing will be great in roles that require focusing on details like the how, what, and when of project management. Opposingly, someone who scores as iNtuitive would be better in roles that look at the big picture and require imagination, strategic thinking, and ideation.
T vs. F: Someone who prefers Thinking will excel in roles that require logic, analysis, and the application of rules. Whereas someone who prefers Feeling will shine in jobs that entail motivating others, maintaining harmony, and being an empathetic listener.
J vs. P: A person who prefers Judging will appreciate structure, deadlines, schedules, and closure. On the other end of the spectrum, a person who shows a preference for Perceiving will be more flexible, able to handle ambiguity and enjoy a job that is not locked in a routine.
After reading this blog post, I hope you can see the importance of assessing your personality and aligning your natural disposition with your career management efforts.
FREE TOOLS FOR ASSESSING YOUR PERSONALITY
If you want to find out your personality type utilizing the Myers-Briggs framework, here are some free ways to do so. 16 Personalities offers an assessment and information about each type. In the free workbook companion to The Purple Parachute, you can take a very cursory questionnaire to get a preliminary type. As mentioned previously, www.Keirsey.com offers a free assessment to discover your type.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT MBTI TYPES
On a practical note, Novoresume provides a list of job titles that match each MBTI type. For those of you who like to geek out on this stuff, check out Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type.
On a lighter note, there are some websites that share fun interpretations of MBTI types. Psychology Junkie categorizes types using animals. Comic Book Resources offer a lighthearted post tying MBTI types to Star Wars characters. And since I love ice cream, I couldn’t resist including this post by Personality Club tying type to flavors.
P.S. Have you purchased The Purple Parachute: A Woman’s Guide to Navigating the Winds of Career Change yet? Why not? If you don’t personally need the information, I bet you know someone who could put it to good use.