For finding good career matches, knowing a personality type usually isn't enough.
Reading time: 10 minutes
While some people suggest using personality type (from the 16 personalities, MBTI, or Myers-Briggs framework) as a guide to finding the right career, this approach often does not work well in practice. Why? First, consider the area of personality with substantial influence on career satisfaction: interests.
People tend to feel satisfied and engaged when their work demands match their unique combination of interests. Interests are relatively stable preferences for certain types of activities.
For example, some people naturally gravitate towards highly hands-on activities that demand manipulating objects with their hands, tools, or machinery. On the other end, some feel far more engaged when working with other people through communicating, teaching, nurturing, and helping. This spectrum — working hands-on with objects versus working with people — is one of several interests dimensions.
One approach to finding potential career fits involves:
The biggest obstacle to using the above approach with personality types is the breadth of personality types. They are generally too broad to narrow down one’s interests.
For example, consider one personality type from the MBTI framework: the INFJ. The graph below shows the typical range of six interest dimensions found within a large group of INFJs, based on the statistical relationships between this personality type and interests:
The horizontal blue bars show where INFJs may appear on the given dimension for each of the six interests. On every interest, people classified as INFJ appear along the entire range. In other words, simply knowing that you are an INFJ tells you almost nothing about your interests.
For example, consider the first interest: Realistic. Realistic interests describe preferences for working with concrete objects, using one’s hands, tools, or other machinery. For INFJs, the light blue bar extends from “Very Low” to “Very High”, meaning that some INFJs have very low Realistic interests and other INFJs have very high Realistic interests.
This same pattern occurs across every interest for INFJs and every other personality type in the MBTI framework. This ambiguity makes it impractical to predict a good career match based on personality type.
For examples of the vast range of career paths that could potentially match well a given personality type, see any of the following listings:
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The solution is to take a more individualized approach, avoiding broad personality types altogether. Everyone has a unique combination of personality traits and interests, and lumping people into personality types throws away a tremendous amount of critical information.
TraitLab takes this individualized approach to a new level. With TraitLab Plus, you’ll get a comprehensive view of your unique combination of personality traits and interests.
With TraitLab’s Career Search, you’ll find a personalized set of career matches based on your personality profile.
And for any of the 700+ career paths on TraitLab, you can dive in, compare your profile, and learn more about the details of that specific career.