How to Define Your Career Goals, Based on Your Personality Type

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 02, 2021

As you attempt to formulate career goals, your personality type is an important factor you would be wise to consider. Whether you’re just starting out, advancing along a previously chosen career path, or getting ready to make a change, your long-term happiness and satisfaction are at stake.

If your choices are in harmony with your personality type, you’ll have a better chance to reach your career goals. If you remain aware of how your personality type can cause you to make the wrong decision at times, you’ll know how to avoid such mistakes (or correct them if they’ve already been made).

Career and Personality: Know Yourself, and Your Future Will Be Bright

Everyone who knows about the Myers-Briggs personality system is familiar with its preference pairs:

No matter what your personality type, four of these eight will apply to you. Each of these characteristics will be a part of your overall personality profile, which is why it makes sense to take all of them into account when creating career goals.

Once your traits have been identified, here’s what you’ll need to do to leverage them to your advantage during your quest to discover your ideal career path:


Great discussions with close confidantes (like spouses, parents, close friends, mentors, or respected elders) can help Extraverts clarify their thoughts. The feedback they receive during such discussions, about career goals or anything else, will help them see things from a broader perspective. This will prevent them from choosing a career path before they’ve thoroughly and clearly considered every potential consequence of their decision.

In some instances, the Extravert can overrate their need to be around people. They may dismiss career possibilities that intrigue them but don’t seem to involve a lot of human interaction, thinking they’ll be lonely or unsatisfied in those professions. Fortunately, there are many non-working environments that can satisfy the Extravert’s need for human interaction, which is why they shouldn’t get too caught up in the social characteristics of the career fields that interest them.


When contemplating a potentially life-changing decision, Introverts need time, space, and privacy to really think things through. They need to be able to analyze the possibilities from every angle, based on their career-related research and their knowledge of their true needs and inclinations. In solitude and in a peaceful, contemplative space, the Introvert can think clearly and deeply about the most important decisions in their lives.

On the other hand, if an Introvert spends too much time listening to the opinions and recommendations of others, they might be unduly influenced and make a decision that hasn’t been as well-thought-out as it should be. Seeking others’ opinions is fine, but in the end the Introvert must choose career goals that synchronize with their instincts and their own personal judgments.


People who exhibit the Sensing preference are experiential learners. To grasp the reality of something, they need to engage it with their five senses, immersing themselves in all aspects of the experience. People who’ve been classified as a sensing type should seek out volunteer or internship opportunities in the careers they’re investigating, since they need that type of direct, hands-on experience to know whether a particular type of job will be right for them.

Sometimes, people with a Sensing preference can fail to see the forest through the trees. They are so determined to follow a practical course or pursue a reachable goal that they don’t get around to asking themselves the most important question, which is: is this really what I want to do? They can benefit by talking to others who are experienced practitioners of the careers they’re interested in, to learn more about the hidden truths and the long-term downsides of those particular fields.


Intuitive types need long-term goals that will inspire them to strive for greatness. If a potential career excites their imagination and leaves them feeling truly excited about what they might someday accomplish, it's safe to assume they’re on the right track. Even if it can take a long time for them to finish their training and preparation, men and women who have the intuitive preference will be glad to make that sacrifice, if their intuition tells them they’ve found the perfect career.

The issue is that intuitive people often don’t pay as much attention to the details as they should. They are so big-picture oriented that they forget that big pictures are painted one stroke at a time, carefully and deliberately. The Intuitive type must force themselves to live in the moment, to create detailed plans that cover every aspect of the training and preparation they will need to achieve their career goals. If they can’t come up with a coherent plan that is both practical and doable, they should start looking in another direction.


A person with a Thinking preference will only feel comfortable with their choices if they go through an exhaustive investigative process of each career option that piques their interest. They should search for books and articles that will tell them exactly, step-by-step, how they can become a lawyer, accountant, engineer, or nurse. Once they have the full picture, then and only then will they feel comfortable seriously considering a possibility.

While thinkers should always be thorough, on occasion they can overthink it. They may spend so much time researching and analyzing that they see nothing but the faults in everything, which leaves them uncertain and confused and struggling to make any decision at all. Rather than making a much-needed career change, they may stay with jobs they really don’t like, since that will seem like the safest course of action. Thinkers must be aware of their own tendency to excessive caution, which can prevent them from following their true passions.


A person who possesses a strong Feeling trait cares a lot about other people, and about the state of the world in general. Consequently, they should select a career that lets them contribute to the welfare of others or to the betterment of society. They might want to work in a service- or humanitarian-related field of some type, or possibly choose an entrepreneurial route if they have a terrific idea about a valuable product or service they’d like to offer.

In their concern about how others will be affected by their life decisions, people with the feeling trait do have to be careful to not to put too much stock in the negative opinions of others (family members or friends, for example). They should never choose a career path simply because those close to them are pushing them in a particular direction (their people-pleasing tendencies can leave them tempted to do so). As they contemplate career possibilities, they should remain clear about their true personal preferences and inclinations.


Men and women with the Judging preference are natural goal-setters. They prefer an organized and structured approach to life, believing that it is difficult to accomplish anything meaningful unless you are following a sensible plan that is detailed and accounts for all contingencies. Because of these tendencies, the person with the judging trait is most often drawn to careers that feature a clear training-and-skills-development regimen, and where advancement in the field usually follows a specific route and happens on a predictable time scale.

Unfortunately, the ideas of the Judging personality can be too rigid at times, causing them to overlook amazing possibilities that could bring them great life satisfaction. They are so determined to eliminate uncertainty that they choose careers that won’t stimulate them once they actually start working. They must be willing to take a leap of faith in some instances, specifically when contemplating career or entrepreneurial paths that sound incredibly exciting and interesting but don’t offer a guaranteed result.


Perceivers are naturally creative people, and consequently should seek out careers that will indulge rather than stifle their creative capacities. Perceivers are generally drawn to career options that capture their imagination and generate dreams of excitement and adventure, regardless of how practical those options might seem to outside observers. Unlike judging personalities, they don’t feel a need to plan well ahead. If the details of how to get there seem a bit vague in the beginning, the perceiver won’t be overly troubled, as they are certain they will figure that out later.

This lack of attention to the details can easily trip perceivers up. They may struggle to convert their dreams into reality, and in the end may hop from job to job always looking for something more satisfying and exciting, just over the next horizon. Perceivers who are willing to slow down, take their time, investigate the possibilities more fully, and plan ahead when they do make a choice can prevent this from happening. They need to look before they leap, because if they could be headed for a long fall.

Nathan Falde

Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Krishna Chaitanya says...

A very informative article that contained several illuminating insights. From an aspiring career coach standpoint, I was just thinking hypothetically, if someone is not inclined to take an assessment to identify their 4 letter MBTI, can traits identified and taken in isolation as above provide a reasonable insight into finding a suitable career? Just wondering because from I understand about the MBTI, an individual being classified as an Introvert/Extrovert has a reasonably large impact on how their other 'functions' such as 'Sensing', 'Intuition', 'Thinking', 'Feeling' pan out in their environment. So would it still be plausible to conclude for instance, if a person who thinks a reasonable amount about events, ideas etc. (Thinker) may not be too suitable in careers which require providing some help to others? Or one needs to combine this with other traits knowledge and only then make an informed decision? As mentioned earlier, this is in a scenario where the MBTI is not administered or a person isn't inclined to complete such an assessment. Thank you.

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