Updated: Jul 28, 2021
Gaining insight into your career path using the Myers-Briggs.
Have you ever taken the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? If not, there's a free version you can take online here. I highly recommend doing so. It can be a helpful tool to gain some insight as you move along the journey of life and finding a fulfilling career.
The MBTI breaks down your personality into four pairs of preferences. Each of us falls somewhere along a spectrum when it comes to each of the preference pairs. After completing the MBTI, you will be given four letters that represent the combination of the four preference pairs, based on your responses to the questions.
The four pairs are as follows: Introversion vs. extroversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving. There are a lot of misconceptions about what these pairs actually mean, so let's break them all down.
Introversion (I) vs. Extroversion (E)
Many people think that introverts are shy, quiet, and anti-social, while extroverts are loud, talkative and outgoing. While some people may describe themselves as such, it is not always the case. For example, I am 82% on the introversion scale, which means that I have highly introverted tendencies. But many people who know me would be surprised to know that, since I can be very outgoing and talkative when I'm with a group of friends.
Introversion and extroversion are less about how social you are, and more about where you get your energy from. When you are tired after a long week, are you likely to go out with friends to blow off steam? Or are you more likely to stay home, relax, and spend time with yourself to re-charge? Introverts gain energy from being alone, whereas extroverts fill their buckets by being with others.
Knowing which way you lean can be helpful as you seek different career paths. Extroverts enjoy doing work that is highly collaborative, and they rely on their coworkers for their drive and inspiration. Introverts need more time doing focused work on their own. Introverts can still certainly work well as part of a team, but they will likely need to balance that with independent work time, especially when it comes to creative output.
Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
This is all about how you process and take in the world around you. Those who have a preference for sensing tend to use their five senses to take in information. They have a tendency to focus on the here and now and value realism and common sense. Sensors tend to be specific and literal and they often present information in a step-by-step process.
Those with a preference towards intuition are more focused on the intangible feelings or vibes they get in their bodies. Intuitives value imagination and innovation and they enjoy exploring new ideas and concepts. They are more focused on the future and enjoy considering many different possibilities. Many intuitives tend to trust their inspiration and inference and they enjoy learning and mastering new skills for their own sake.
Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
Thinking and feeling helps us understand how we make decisions. Those with a preference towards thinking will often make decisions based on logic, reason, and an objective analysis of the situation. They are more likely to analyze facts to weigh the pros and cons and will search for accurate and objective truth. If you're a thinker, you've likely made lists of the "pros and cons" prior to making a decision, and there's a good chance this list helped guide you to land on one choice or another. Thinkers can come off as heartless or insensitive, but they likely just find it is more important to be truthful than tactful.
People with a strong feeling preference are likely to make decisions primarily based on their values and subjective evaluation of the situation. Their concerns are person-centered and their decisions will often reflect their personal and social values. If you're a feeler, you may have been accused of being overly emotional, illogical or even weak. But feelers believe that any feeling is valid and place a strong value on harmony and empathy.
Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
This preference pair has to do with how you approach life and organize yourself. Judgers tend to prefer a more planned and organized approach to life and like to have things settled. They are hard-workers and and enjoy setting goals and sticking to them. If you are a judger, you are likely decisive and well-organized. Judgers feel good when a project is completed.
Those with a preference for perceiving tend to be more flexible and spontaneous in their approach to life. Perceivers like to keep their options open and value their freedom and leisure time. If you're a perceiver, you are likely great at starting projects, and may find that you have many different things going on at once. Perceivers are process-oriented, so they gain satisfaction from the process, more so than the product or outcome.
Bringing it all together
Once you know your four-letter personality type, we can further categorize your type into one of four different temperaments: Traditionalists, experiencers, idealists, and conceptualizers. While there is room for all personality types in most fields of work, there are certain roles that are better suited to certain types of people.
Traditionalists (Sensing Judgers)
Traditionalists make up about 46% of the population. They need to have a sense of belonging and service. They value doing the right thing, as well as stability and orderliness. Traditionalists place high demands on themselves and others, especially when it comes to work. They are comfortable in roles with high levels of responsibility and likely prefer to work in an organization that is stable, with a clearly-defined structure and hierarchy. Traditionalists do well in management or leadership roles and are often praised for their ability to stabilize and maintain tradition and status quo. Interestingly, about 50% of police officers are traditionalists, likely due to their innate desire to protect and serve society. Traditionalists feel especially satisfied when given the opportunity to maintain order and aiding those in distress.
Experiencers (Sensing Perceivers)
Experiencers make up about 27% of the population. They tend to be responsive and spontaneous and they certainly know how to live life to the fullest! The most adventurous of the four temperaments, experiencers, live for action and impulse in the present moment. Career roles best suited to experiencers are ones that allow them a high level of autonomy and variety. They enjoy executing tasks skillfully and seeing immediate results. Experiencers don't tend to gravitate towards structured organizations, however, they can often find niche roles that allow them to act quickly or respond to crises.
Idealists (Intuitive Feelers)
Idealists make up about 16% of the population. They are concerned with personal growth and understanding themselves and others. Idealists are the most spiritual and philosophical of the four temperaments and they are on a perpetual search for meaning in life and work. They value harmony and will not do well in a competitive work place. Idealists gravitate towards humanistic roles and organizations as they gain fulfillment from helping others. Many idealists gravitate towards teaching, counseling, human resources and the arts.
Conceptualizers (Intuitive Thinkers)
Conceptualizers are the least common, and make up only about 10% of the population. They are the most independent of the four temperaments and are driven to acquire knowledge. They set very high standards for themselves and others and strive to be excellent in all things. Conceptualizers are well-suited for jobs that offer them autonomy, variety and intellectual stimulation. They enjoy the opportunity to generate ideas and prefer their work to be challenging. Conceptualizers are well-suited for leadership positions, college-level teaching, science, law, or medicine. They also do well in upper-level management roles, computer sciences, or any other role that gives them the opportunity to solve complex problems.
If you are seeking a career change, or simply some clarity about where you would like to be headed next, gaining some insight into your personality can be a great help. While taking a personality test certainly wont give you all of the answers, doing some self-reflection into who you are is the best place to start to answer the question of what you'd like to do in the world. The possibilities and opportunities for work truly are limitless. New roles are created every day and it has never been a better time to create one for yourself. If you are seeking a greater fulfillment in your work, gaining insight into who you are is a great foundation to build upon.
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Tieger, P. D., Barron-Tieger, B., & Tieger, K. (2021). Do what you are: Discover the perfect career for you through the secrets of personality type. Little, Brown Spark.