The Enneagram can help uncover stress and growth areas to guide you on a career journey tailored specifically to your strengths. Personality type and career preferences have a strong connection, and personal satisfaction plays a huge factor in this equation.
In terms of making effective career choices, the Enneagram provides a well-rounded roadmap for choosing a path which best targets your natural abilities—as well as the greatest areas for potential improvement. One of the most distinctive features of the Enneagram personality model is its description of your primary motivations. In the pursuit of a lifelong, satisfying career journey, it’s a breath of fresh air amidst the ever-expanding frenzy of standardized recruitment assessments.
As mentioned in a previous article, there are three triads into which the nine Enneatypes split:
- Gut (Instincts): Types 8, 9, 1
- Heart (Feeling): Types 2, 3, 4
- Head (Thinking): Types 5, 6, 7
As a general rule, the Gut triad focuses on power, the Heart triad on connection, and the Thinking triad on understanding. These triads of primary motivation build the foundation upon which your actions and identity develop and unfold in the external world.
How then, does your Enneatype impact your career decisions? Well, there are some clear patterns and tendencies that emerge from the different Enneatypes. Many of them map reasonably well to the Holland Code RIASEC system (which stands for Realistic-Investigative-Artistic-Social-Enterprising-Conventional), so you can use insights from both systems to get a really clear picture of your career needs and matches.
Note: If you’re familiar with your particular wing (i.e. the adjacent Enneatype), feel free to take a peek at your neighboring type’s preferences.
Type 1 (The Perfectionist)
Typically conscientious and methodological, the Perfectionist enjoys highly-structured environments where they can clearly demonstrate their competence to colleagues and supervisors. Their cup of tea? Regulations and procedures. They’re independent, focused and get the job done right.
Ideal careers correspond to the Conventional (C) and Realistic (R) Holland codes. Think law, medicine, accounting, IT quality control and the military. This sometimes comes in a package deal with an investigative (I) element.
Type 2 (The Helper)
With a very high emphasis and connection to the Big 5’s Agreeableness trait, the Helper loves to be generous with their time to improve others’ lives and make a lasting, positive impact.
Counselling, healthcare, psychotherapy and veterinary fields of work play to their innate strengths. These careers match very well with the Social (S) Holland code, which is sometimes followed by a Realistic (R) component.
Type 3 (The Achiever)
Sophisticated and accomplished, the Achiever probably has the Instagram-worthy social feed and a lifestyle to match. They have sophistically refined taste and a sharp eye for quality. These artisans thrive under high-profile positions where they can flex their ambitious muscle and relentless drive to succeed and achieve higher and more ambitious goals.
You can find them feeling truly alive in entertainment, business, communications, sports and coaching. Holland code equivalents are Enterprising (E) and Social (S). They’re also known for their aesthetic appreciation, which opens the door for Artistic (A) careers.
Type 4 (The Individualist)
Creativity’s scattered all around the house, and everywhere else. The Individualist flourishes under conditions without strict regimes, because it allows them to process their thoughts and feelings to produce the best art to the world. It’s the intense thought process through every highly personal curation that counts—the inner voice that begs to be heard.
They can channel this sense of authenticity through digital design, architecture, writing, dance, music, videography, and the like. Holland code equivalents include a strong Artistic (A) and sometimes a secondary Social (S) component.
Type 5 (The Investigator)
The Investigator is all about patterns, connections, and basking in the realm of ideas. This can make them seem completely detached from the outer world (spoiler alert: they are). They can become so absorbed in a personal project or pursuit, their sense of time blurs and activates laser-focus.
Unsurprisingly, they’re your quintessential researchers, scientists, technical writers, analysts, and economists. This carries over primarily from Holland’s Investigative (I) and Conventional (C) codes.
Type 6 (The Loyalist)
Resourceful, skeptical, and precise—the Loyalist is extraordinarily detail-oriented and prepared for any crisis. They might read survival guides in their free time and can troubleshoot through almost any scenario. The key factor they consider above all else is a sense of security.
They can put their abilities to good use in computer programming, finance, law, academia, research, and security. Holland code equivalents include Realistic (R), Conventional (C), and Investigative (I).
Type 7 (The Enthusiast)
What’s the next exciting adventure? That’s the question on every Enthusiast’s mind. Acute and open-minded, they’re drawn to novelty like moths to flame. They enjoy being on the move, soaking in all that life throws at them (lemons, tomatoes, whatever!). Careers that pull them in offer an endless supply of new experiences, with new ideas around every corner.
Public relations, marketing, design, archaeology, and travel writing are just some of the few areas where Enthusiasts can channel their energy into. Social (S) and Enterprising (E) are the two top focuses, with Artistic (A) coming in at a close third.
Type 8 (The Challenger)
Let’s not get stereotypical here—but the Challenger is the boss—bar none. And yes, they’ll make it known. Bold, daring, and powerful, they’re natural leaders with thick skin and an unmatched willpower to influence and disrupt the status quo. With a sharp mind and clear-cut goals, they’ll do whatever it takes to cross that finish line.
They often find tremendous success in business (especially entrepreneurship), politics, or national intelligence agencies. The Enterprising (E) and Social (S) Holland codes are strongly correlated with this Enneatype, as well as Investigative (I).
Type 9 (The Peacemaker)
What do nurses, social service workers, and yogis have in common? They’re masters at keeping the peace, and gently encourage others to do so as well. When the group’s happy, they’re happy. As easygoing, caring, and all-around kind people, their high emotional intelligence betters the lives of others in an endearing way. Some Peacemakers find their path in the fine arts and writing, with their work expressing a gentle message of peace and serenity.
Physical/dance/art/musical therapy, counselling, spirituality, business mediation, human resources, design, architecture, and teaching in the humanities are additional areas they shine in. They perform optimally in Social (S), Artistic (A), and Conventional (C) careers.
Armed with the knowledge of your Enneagram type, you can now use your natural strengths and preferences to your advantage by paving a path best suited to bring out the best in you. There’s a huge treasure cove of awesome Enneagram resources to inspire your next career move (or slight pivot).
Start by asking yourself: How can you combine your talents to map out a path specifically catered to your unique talents? Who are some people you can talk with to further your understanding of your passions? What are the resources available and steps you can take to make this vision happen?
As with any typing instrument or assessment, it’s a good idea to use the system as a tool or guideline for navigating the career waters. Dig into what makes your top three Enneatype preferences click, and search for patterns between those. Compile and build a master list of list of possible choices, and rank them afterwards.
Which Enneatype are you? Do you deviate from some of the descriptions above? What are some other links you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments below!