The ENFP's Simple 5 Step Guide to Choosing a Career19 August 2015 / By Ellen Lambert Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 19, 2015
If you're an ENFP, there are a host of career options and opportunities available that will utilize your unique personality. There’s only one catch – ENFP personality types may have difficulty choosing and sticking with a particular career path. Their propensity to leap before looking can lead to a circuitous or meandering travel from job to job; flitting from one to another without purpose or plan. While this is a great way to explore a myriad of positions and experiment with different fields of endeavor, it’s not necessarily the most strategic approach.
Since ENFPs can fit in a wide variety of industries, the trick is to mindfully narrow the field. Here are five tips ENFPs can use to make the most of their career search. All that’s required is a legal pad, something to write with and an open mind.
Step One: Narrow the field
The ENFP’s challenge is to winnow the vast array of choices down to a manageable number. The first way to accomplish this is by process of elimination. It’s often easier to identify what we don’t want to do than what we do. ENFPs can begin by making a list of jobs and positions they would patently not enjoy. Most ENFPs are ill-suited for routine, repetitive tasks. That might make it easy to rule out assembly-line or factory work, data entry, telephone customer service, and accounting. Most ENFPs also don’t like working in isolation. That might mean backroom operations and night-shifts would be less appealing.
Think of jobs you could never do or wouldn’t want to do if you could avoid it. List all the jobs that come to mind. That might be laying boiling asphalt on dusty country roads or working with terminally ill patients. Don’t be critical of your choices, just be as honest as you can. If you need help getting started, browse the offerings of any of the large online job posting websites. Make a note of any of the positions that make you cringe. Add those jobs to your “Avoid” list.
Surprisingly, job seekers often don’t spend enough time thinking about what they might like to do. It’s easy to target careers that pay well or to go after jobs that are popular, in high demand or geographically available. But think about this, whatever career path you start on will be carrying you somewhere. Make sure you’ll be devoting your time, talents and energy in a direction you want to go.
Step Two: Focus on your likes
Since you will most likely be spending the majority of your days working, doesn’t it make sense that it should be as enjoyable as possible? That may seem like a no-brainer statement, and yet, most of us pick careers for all kinds of other reasons. We choose an area we studied in school, chase a profession just because it pays well, or we follow in a parent’s footsteps.
There’s actually nothing wrong with pursuing a career because you enjoy the environment, working hours, conditions, geography and so on. Take a second piece of paper and list everything you enjoy doing. Think about jobs you may have held in the past that you particularly enjoyed. Ask yourself why you found those jobs or activities so enjoyable. Be as specific and detailed as possible.
You want to pursue a career that incorporates as many of the items from your “Like” list as possible. If you are in a job now that’s drudgery or a grind, ask yourself what would need to change in order to make it more enjoyable? Add those ingredients to your list.
Step Three: Consider your gifts and talents
Next, make a list of all of your talents. Write down as many as you can and as fast as you can, and don’t leave anything out. Are you naturally athletic? Have a way with words? Can you sing/act/paint/draw/teach? Are you gifted in music, languages, math or science? What subjects were easiest for you in school?
It might seem obvious, but it will be easier for you to excel in your career if you are doing things that align with your natural talents. If you have excellent communication skills, it only makes sense to seek a career that will allow you to showcase those. Whatever jobs you choose to accept, you will be working countless hours doing something. Whatever that something is, the more you do it, the better you will get at doing it. If you already start out gifted in a particular area and then you continue to work at it, you will go from good to great; from great to exceptional.
Step Four: Fast foward
We often don’t consider that a choice we make now will impact the choices we make a year from now, and a decade from now. A great way to make your next career move a good one is by visualizing where you want to be at some point in the future.
Here’s a great exercise to help you fast forward: close your eyes and visualize yourself where you would like to be in 10 years. Get as specific as you can. Do you see yourself inside or outdoors? How are you dressed? Are you management, self-employed, in a profession? Knowing where you want to end up is a great way to help you focus on the steps you should take today. If you want to wind up in the entertainment industry eventually, why not start out there today? If you’re considering a specific position, ask yourself if it is likely to lead you where you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now.
Step Five: Look for big ponds to swim in
ENFPs will be happiest working in jobs that utilize their skills, in careers that align with their personality, that involve a lot of people, freedom, variety and challenge. Fortunately, ENFPs can excel in a host of professions and they aren’t industry specific. One strategy is to look for large organizations, like those on the Fortune 500. Those companies are huge and can offer growth, diversity and exposure to line, staff, sales and technical areas. They can also provide greater opportunity for vertical and lateral career moves, allowing ENFPs a chance to move around without having to switch employers.
ENFPs aren’t noted for their ability to stick to a plan, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to create a broad and flexible one. The one outlined here can be adopted at any stage of life. The key is to find a career that lets ENFPs be themselves in all their extraverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving glory, and shine!
Guest (not verified) says...
Aspiring Psychiatric LPN (not verified) says...
Initially, when I took the personality test I've been given INFP and even though I felt most of it was accurate about my personality... I decided to take it multiple times. My title switches between INFP/ENFP and I remember it's normal for adolescence to shift between extroversion and introversion from my AP Psychology class. Is this information entirely accurate- I don't know for sure... but when I read the description of ENFP it cleared a lot of questions for me. I've always been interested in many different things and I'm just such an open minded person that I think so many different professions are really cool. The two main fields I've been focusing since high school were the medical field and the art world. I was lucky enough and very grateful to have the opportunity so young to attend a health sciences academy and a visual arts magnet high school. Medicine was always an option for me- growing up with family members already in the medical field I was encouraged to pursue this route. Art, was always my passion- it resonated with my values and it fulfilled most if not all my emotional needs. I went to study art in university but quickly retreated to my hometown after one semester. It was very stressful to attend a high profile prestigious/competitive art school and it conflicted with my core beliefs. Coming from a first generation asian-imigrant family, money was really hard to come by for my parents- since they spent nearly every thing to make the big transition to come to America. After taking a 2 year break from school (worked a handful of odd-ball jobs, saving up- taking free classes where ever I can get it) I've decided to go into nursing focusing on Mental/Behavioral Health. My question is, do you think Psychiatric LPN is a good fit for an INFP/ENFP? Thank you, and sorry for the long introduction.
excitable_buffalo (not verified) says...
Absolutely! if its something you're interested in, there's no reason not to pursue that field!
Aspiring Psychiatric LPN (not verified) says...
Do you think Psychiatric LPN is a good match for ENFP/INFP types?
Ellen Lambert says...
Thanks so much for commenting on this piece and you certainly point out how multifaceted any personality type can be! What's so fascinating to me is how we so often polarize interests, right? Like the arts and sciences have to be separated. I think with your broad background and willingness to explore different paths you will succeed whatever area you pursue. There's no reason at all why you wouldn't be a good match for a Psychiatric LPN. YOU will be the best judge of that. If you're energized by what you do and you have a gift for it? You're right where you should be. Thanks again for reading and responding!
Aspiring Psychiatric LPN (not verified) says...
Thank you so much, that was encouraging- especially when I have a history of second guessing myself. I really do strongly relate to the trait of "[not] choosing and sticking to a career path." It's really frustrating and I'm aware of when I'm drifting in my thoughts of wanting to explore my options. But I hope that with my approach of blending my interests and resonating with a career that fits my values I can find satisfaction with this career and stick with it till the end of the program. Reading your blog really helped me come to terms with my behavior, initially I felt as if I couldn't finish an academic program and I felt like there was some underlying psychological issue I needed to resolve. But, after really looking at my past and getting some insight it made a things a lot clearer. Thank you again.
Ellen Lambert says...
You are most welcome, I'm happy I was an encouragement for you. You certainly aren't alone! But resist the urge to be too critical of yourself. I've found that sometimes when I lacked the "stick-to-it-ness" I was seeking, it was because I wasn't pursuing what was right for me. Usually, when it's right, we have no problem staying the course! Best of luck!
Career Jumper (not verified) says...
Right now I'm stuck - lack of funds and no car, living with roommates and working in a job that is almost completely routine (even though I get to help people, which is a plus). I think I'm one of those unhealthy ENFPs that need to find themselves again, and I have so many hopes and dreams for the future. Good news? I'm only 25 and I have some time to change things.
I really want to get my master's in cultural anthropology and business, as well as start a business to sustain myself. I could absolutely freelance write, but the money is not good and graduate school is expensive. This is something I really want to do, but part of me is scared that it's yet another one of the whims that our personality type is known for that will basically fall to pieces in the end.
I guess my question is... what can I do now to make sure I get to that point where I actually feel like I'm doing something that means something again?
Dapo (not verified) says...
This sounds so me. I am an ENFP and also wanted to study cultural anthropology for a masters.
Your ENFP career choices are right on spot! I have had a number of jobs in my lifetime and am now retired and looking for a new career. Who wants to sit home and do nothing? I found the part about alternative medicine and healing interesting. I have always encouraged people to eat well and take their vitamins and go to naturally oriented doctors as well. I ended up doing proofreading for an alternative medicine journal and it fit right in. Even though the work process was the same, I couldn't wait for the articles to come in because each one had information on different solutions for health issues. So it gave me the variety which ENFP's need to keep going. The best career path I had was as a career counselor. I started out developing a community college peer counseling program for re-entry women, moved on to a university program for re-entry students and wrote curriculum for job training. I love career counseling because you really have to get to know the person and help them identify what would be their chosen path. I actually enjoyed my job in the later years of my work life as a customer service representative for a major cable company. Each call on the other end of the line was a different person with questions and needs that I did very well at addressing and solving. It could be sales --and with so many different options like tv and internet that never got boring. Solving technical problems was also challenging and satisfying. The only problem was when a new company took over all they wanted was quick, non customer focused interaction and my ENFP self found it impossible to adjust to the formulaic performance they required. My dream is to open a cafe where people can be comfortable and sit and chat. Imagine all the people I could get to know. And ,by the way, Barbara Sher identifies this personality type as"scanners". They are people who have so many different interests that they can't sit in one place. They will find information on a subject and then it's on to the next thing. She explains why we need scanners to keep things going. Look up her information. It fits perfectly.
JT42 (not verified) says...
Hello,I took the test.It blew my mind how accurate it was to me.I work in a top down factory.My description said i feel like im chasing a carrot on a stick in this type of an environment.Whats funny is,last year i literally made a carrot on a stick and had my coworkers laughing.I had so many "wow"moments.My bosses loathe me shining my heart.My coworkers love me doing it.I feel so stuck
Ellen Lambert says...
Hey, JT42, thanks for commenting! Somewhere there's a job where you can your heart, be yourself and be appreciated for exactly who you are and the unique contributions you bring to the business.
Having been a square peg always trying to fit in square places I learned that only causes bruising!
Keep your eyes out for places where you don't have to turn yourself into a pretzel!
For me that meant being my own boss! I'm hyper critical of my performance but I give myself cookies as a reward everyday!
SamA (not verified) says...
I've been fired from every job bar part time ones since age, I'm an enfp safety officer, 30s, M, help! Therapy perhaps, even a holiday, suggestions please!