Openness is one of the five traits in the Big Five personality system. It describes people who are intellectually curious, creative, and often unconventional. Open people love new ideas and ways of approaching things and have a lower tolerance for routine, convention and doing things ‘the way they've always been done.' They’re usually more interested in abstract ideas than strictly practical tasks and approaches.
Being high in Openness is associated with creativity in the arts and sciences and a love of learning for its own sake.
If you're unfamiliar with Big Five, you need to know that it is a little different from the Myers Briggs system in that it is more about measuring traits rather than types. When you take a Big Five test, you'll receive a score along a range for each of the five traits. This means we all have some measure of Openness – the difference is just how high or low we fit on the spectrum.
One way that any personality test can help you is in choosing a career that’s a good fit for your personality, and Big Five can be a good choice for that objective. So let’s look at some possible best and worst careers for people who score high in Openness.
Curious about your level of Openness? Take our free Big Five test here.
Best career choices for highly Open people
While the list could be endless, the best types of careers for highly Open people allow for creativity, variety, the ability to keep learning and exploring ideas, and a degree of flexibility or autonomy. Artistic skills, intellectual pursuits and some scientific endeavors may all be well-suited for Open types.
Anything that uses artistic skill, idea generation and creativity will generally be a good fit for Open people. Examples include artist, illustrator, musician, graphic designer, marketer and writer. If a career allows you to play with ideas, it's worth exploring.
While some types of scientific jobs require excessive routine, strict documentation structures, and lack of choice over what to research, Open types can be drawn to scientific research because it allows you to follow your intellectual curiosity and pursue ideas you are passionate about. You will just need to choose a type of research and employment structure that allows you enough freedom to let your mind soar and make the best use of your strengths.
Teaching is a less obvious fit for highly Open types who may find the bureaucracy and rigid structure of the typical school-teaching job oppressive. However, there are plenty of career choices for educators who want the freedom to be creative. For example, you could offer private lessons, teach online or work part-time as an art, music or language teacher who visits multiple schools and thus wouldn’t have to deal with as much of the organizational structure. This could also include teaching arts or sciences on a college level, but maybe without submitting yourself to the strict demands of a tenure-track position.
Life as an airplane pilot takes Openness to experience quite literally as you'll be traveling the world, meeting new people and interacting with various cultures! As a bonus, you probably will be working a non-traditional schedule and solving challenging problems as you go.
Executive roles come in all shapes and sizes, and some may seem a bit on the traditional side to make this list. For Open types, the challenge will be to find companies that value creativity and innovation and thus hire employees and leaders who can help them regularly generate fresh ideas. For you, choosing the right environment is crucial. You might find success in non-hierarchical companies working on disruptive technology or those offering non-traditional perks and career structures.
Be your own boss
Starting and running anything from a small side hustle to a large company can be a good fit for those who score high in Openness and have an entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs tend to think outside the box and seek out big and new ideas and ways of doing things, which are all characteristic of Open people. People who score high in Openness also like to set their own – possibly unconventional – hours, work in an environment that fits them, and have freedom to design their day and life differently, so any type of freelance or self-employment could be a good fit.
Worst career choices for highly Open people
Anything with rigid structures, relentless repetition, an excess of rules, or lack of creative freedom is unlikely to be a good fit for a highly Open person. If a job requires an inflexible schedule, little room for intellectual exploration, or no room to grow, a highly Open person is likely to feel bored, stifled and frustrated.
Some of these might include:
- Accounting, banking and other financial careers
- Data entry
- Law enforcement
- Real estate agent
- Insurance agent
- Administrative or bureaucratic positions
- Administrative assistant
- Any low-level role with no room for growth or input
- Repetitive manual labor, such as janitorial or factory work
Knowing what isn’t a good fit for you is sometimes as important as knowing what is. As a highly Open person, you will be happier finding a career that fits your strengths instead of forcing yourself to suppress your true personality – which in this case involves a high value for artistic and intellectual freedom and discovery.
Luckily, brainstorming is one of your strengths. That means you'll enjoy the process of figuring out who you are, what you enjoy, and the type of work and environment that will keep you motivated and fulfilled. To gain further clarity, take Truity's free career aptitude test. Blending your Big Five results with the Holland Code, this test will uncover your work strengths and motivations and suggest the exact careers that match up. If you're ready to try something new, it's the best place to start.