Four Unconventional Career Principles for INFPs29 June 2021 / By Samantha Mackay Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on June 29, 2021
INFP’s need a career that is in alignment with who they are and their personal values, while also allowing them space, freedom, and support to bring their vision for a better world to life, whatever that vision may be.
However, the easiest careers and career paths to find are the ones that are most established, and often the most traditional. This means that most career advice is targeted towards getting people onto those paths. But an INFP personality type will rarely be interested in a traditional career path, so the usual advice doesn’t apply. Here are some unconventional principles to apply instead.
1. Honor your individuality
The first thing — and I can’t stress this one enough — as an INFP is you have to honor your individuality. Honor what is true for you. Honor the voice inside of you, no matter what anyone else says, or how impossible it looks or feels. You have to back yourself all the way. You have to ignore that other voice inside you that says it’s not possible, that you can’t make that happen. Back yourself, back your passion, back your curiosity, back that inner voice inside of you that says, “this is how I want to help.” And run with it all the way, even if you don't know where it’s going to lead you.
If you ignore what is true for you, you will spend your working life wandering around like a jaded zombie wondering why you bothered to get out of bed at all
2. There is no one path
When we talk about careers, we often talk about “finding your career path,” as if there is just one, perfect career path for you. We talk about our “dream career” as if it’s just waiting for us and if we spend enough time trying to figure out what this path looks like, a perfectly straight, concrete path will magically appear in front of us and all the world's problems will be solved.
This is not the way it works. At times there might be a scrambling of dirt tracks, meandering all over each other, but in reality, there is no single path. There is simply a field of wheat waiting for you to show up with your lawnmower and start carving out your own design.
Many types struggle to fit within the narrow limit of socially acceptable career paths. Some people find a way to make those boxes their own, crafting them into a “happy enough” career. Other people blow up their box halfway through their career and then start building a new one from scratch.
As an INFP, simply accepting there is no path other than the one you carve from scratch for yourself, while painful to hear, is the solid foundation upon which you can build your career.
3. You won’t know until you know
Just like your magical career path, you won’t uncover your perfect career until you have gone out and tried a few different things. Think of it as reverse decision-making. You have to experience a career first, and then decide how you feel about it. And, you’ll have to try more things than you might like before you feel in full alignment between yourself and your work.
This process could take months, years, or even decades, but the key is to keep going. To continually refine your process, focusing on what is important to you, what you care about and what excites you. And suddenly, one day, you’ll find yourself right where you need to be.
4. Keep trying new things
Traditional career advice says to stick with a job for at least 12 months and keep your resume tidy with no unexplainable gaps. But that approach won’t help you as an INFP. You need to have new experiences and to explore the reality of working in different roles. Remember, you won't know it’s right until you try it.
Let go of the myth of a tidy resume. Instead, aim to fill it with short-term projects, part-time jobs or whatever variety of experience is right for you. This doesn’t mean skipping out on your commitments. It means acknowledging that when you’re designing your own career, you need to do things differently.
Make a list of jobs that appeal to you, and consider how you can get more information or experience. From the passive approach of reading a book or watching some YouTube clips, to actively speaking to someone, volunteering or finding part-time work, every new experience carves a little more out of your wheat field. And ultimately that is the only resume that matters.