By now, you’ve probably heard the term “The Great Resignation,” and maybe have even participated in it. Four point three million Americans quit their jobs in August (including over 500,000 healthcare workers), the highest monthly total since they started collecting this kind of data in 2000.
What’s driving the greatest labor exodus in American history? The main reason, of course, is the pandemic: many who can’t work virtually (think healthcare, restaurants, hotels, retail) are afraid of becoming sick or infecting loved ones, and many more are burned out from having to adapt to changes (technology fatigue, juggling family responsibilities, being isolated or living in cramped quarters, etc). Economic forces such as receiving extended unemployment benefits and temporary moratoriums on making rent, mortgage and education loan payments have also contributed.
But, I believe the most compelling reason may be that COVID has made millions of us reexamine our values, attitudes, and priorities – especially as they relate to work.
Who’s quitting — and why?
Contrary to what many believe, rather than the youngest workers spearheading the surge, it is employees between 30 and 45 years old who have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. This makes sense. These folks have been in the workforce force between 10 and 25 years. Were it not for the pandemic, the majority would probably continue down the same or a similar career path.
There’s nothing like the fear of getting sick, dying, or losing a loved one to inspire even a marginally introspective person to think: “Hmm… Do I really want to spend the next thirty or forty years… doing this?" I believe millions answered, “No.”
At the same time, with more than ten million job openings representing most sectors, the pandemic may present an unparalleled opportunity to finally find a truly fulfilling career.
The big question is: “What might that be?”
Having researched, written and thought about Personality Type and Temperament pretty much daily, for more than forty years, I believe it is the most useful framework for helping people discover careers which they will find most satisfying. Why? Because it helps us identify our core values, key drives and preferred way of operating in the world.
With all this in mind, let’s look at some potentially satisfying careers for people of all Types and Temperaments.
Traditionalists (ESTJs, ISTJs, ESFJs & ISFJS)
Traditionalists may have many diverse interests and possess a variety of skills. But what is most important for them to find career satisfaction is how they’re able to employ those skills. Super responsible and driven to be of service, they thrive in environments which provide a good amount of structure, clear expectations and positions which afford them a high degree of control, and where they can see the results of their efforts.
Some categories of occupations and a small sample of potentially fulfilling careers for Traditionalists:
- Sales / Service – Insurance sales agent, underwriter, credit analyst, real estate appraiser, funeral director, military officer, commercial airline pilot, police officer, government employee, personal trainer
- Technology / Physical – Engineer, general contractor, cybersecurity specialist, accounting auditor, paralegal, organic farmer, database administrator, technical trainer, clinical technician
- Management – Project manager, factory supervisor, purchasing agent, budget analyst, chief information officer, bank manager / loan officer, nursing director, credit analyst / counselor
- Professional – Stockbroker, judge, executive, primary care physician, industrial engineer, pharmacist, lawyer, school principal, statistician, dentist
- Business – Manager / supervisor, insurance underwriter, chief information officer, actuary, construction manager, statistician, real estate appraiser, technical writer, bill and account collector, bookkeeper
- Sales / Service – Police officer / detective, real estate agent, sports equipment / merchandise sales, ship boat captain, commercial airline pilot, landscaping manager, architectural drafter, environmental compliance inspector, musical instrument maker
- Finance – Accountant, bank examiner, investment securities officer, tax preparer and examiner, accountant, estate planner, credit analyst, treasurer, controller or CFO, stockbroker
- Technology / science – Engineer, computer programmer, meteorologist, agricultural scientist, database administrator, hardware engineer, geologist, electrician, pharmaceutical researcher, reliability engineer
- Healthcare – General surgeon, veterinarian, healthcare administrator, medical researcher, exercise physiologist, pharmacist, optometrist, medical records technician, coroner, public health officer
- Healthcare – Registered nurse, exercise physiologist, family physician, massage therapist, veterinarian, healthcare administrator, hospice worker, chiropractor, respiratory therapist
- Education / social service – Elementary school teacher, childcare provider, nursing instructor, director of religious education, wilderness adventure leader, social worker, employee assistance counselor, court clerk, minister/priest/rabbi, paralegal
- Business – Loan officer and counselor, office manager, retail owner / operator, property manager, customer relations manager, real estate appraiser, childcare center director, lodging owner / innkeeper, credit counselor, human resources trainer
- Sales / Service – Customer sales representative, flight attendant, funeral home director, travel consultant, real estate salesperson, genealogist, caterer, interpreter / translator, fundraiser, dental and medical salesperson
- Healthcare – Registered nurse, family physician, physical therapist, dietitian / nutritionist, veterinarian, pharmaceutical salesperson, hospice worker, medical researcher, biologist, dentist
- Social service / education – Preschool / elementary school teacher, librarian / archivist, social worker, probation officer, substance abuse counselor, religious educator, vocational rehabilitation counselor, athletic trainer, curator, historian
- Business / service – Customer service representative, credit counselor, paralegal, fish and game warden, franchise owner, grant coordinator, bed and breakfast proprietor, title examiner, bookkeeper
- Creative / technical – interior decorator, electrician, artist, musician, jeweler, instrument repairer, computer consultant, dental / medical technician, product tester
Experiencers (ESTPs, ISTPs, ESFPs & ISFPS)
Experiencers may have many diverse interests and possess a variety of skills. But what is most important for them to find career satisfaction is how they’re able to employ those skills. Experiencers prefer a casual work setting without too many rules, where they can be physically engaged, perform concrete tasks, have fun and enjoy their work and co-workers, and have the freedom to act and not be micromanaged.
- Service / “action” – Police officer, firefighter, paramedic, flight attendant, commercial helicopter pilot, military officer, criminologist, personal fitness trainer, flight engineer, respiratory therapist, ship boat captain
- Sales / finance – Real estate agent, sports merchandise salesperson, insurance adjuster, banker, stockbroker, investor, budget analyst, personal financial advisor, automobile salesperson, insurance agent / broker
- Entertainment / sports – Sportscaster, athletic coach, promoter, gaming facility manager, fitness instructor, professional athlete / umpire, actor / performer, talent agent, news reporter, television camera operator
- Trade / technology – Carpenter, general contractor, chef / cook, civil engineer, marine biologist, video game developer, exercise physiologist, audiovisual specialist, landscape architect, chiropractor
- Business – Entrepreneur, franchise owner, land developer, management consultant, internet marketer, product safety engineer, insurance claims examiner, wholesaler, business analyst
- Service / “action” – Firefighter, police officer, race car driver, commercial airplane pilot, weapons specialist, intelligence agent, military officer, private investigator, flight engineer, high school / college athletic coach
- Technology – Civil engineer, technical trainer, networking specialist, marine biologist, quality assurance technician, product tester, geologist, logistics and supply manager, reliability engineer, network systems and data analyst
- Healthcare – Emergency room physician, EEG technologist / technician, exercise physiologist, dental assistant / hygienist, surgical technician medical evacuation coordinator, surgical technician,
- Trades / “hands on” – Computer repair person, robotics engineer, construction worker / carpenter, mechanic, landscape architect, studio, stage and special effects specialist, heavy equipment operator, taxidermist, park naturalist / ranger
- Education / social service – Early child / education teacher, athletic coach, child welfare counselor, recreational therapist, art therapist, substance abuse counselor, eldercare specialist, vocational rehabilitation counselor, home health worker
- Healthcare – Emergency room nurse, exercise physiologist, hospice worker, pediatrician, chiropractor, transplant coordinator, optician / optometrist, physical therapist, veterinarian, massage therapist
- Entertainment / “action” – Film producer, comedian / actor, promotor, news anchor, personal fitness trainer, commercial helicopter pilot, park naturalist / ranger, police officer, fire investigator, wilderness adventure leader
- Business / Sales – Retail merchandiser, public relations specialist, labor relations mediator, team trainer, customer service representative, ecotourism specialist, insurance agent / broker, real estate agent / broker, manufacturer’s service representative, director of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Service - Dog trainer / groomer, flight attendant, host / hostess, landscape architect, police corrections officer, interior designer, exhibit builder, floral designer, chef / head cook, gamekeeper, amusement park designer
- Crafts / artisan – Fashion designer, musician, recording engineer, painter, chef / head cook, artist, tailor, graphic designer, jeweler, carpenter
- Healthcare / social work – Registered nurse, physical therapist, primary care physician, dietitian / nutritionist, personal fitness trainer, speech and language pathologist / audiologist, pharmacist, hospice worker / director, art therapist
- Sales / service – Elementary school teacher / science art, storekeeper, sports equipment manager, landscape architect, genealogist, interpreter / translator, childcare worker, insurance fraud investigator, high school and college athletic coach, bicycle designer / repairer
- Business / Science / Technical – Insurance appraiser, insurance examiner: property and casualty, geologist, soil conservationist, systems analyst, zoologist, camera operator, archaeologist, botanist
Conceptualizers (ENTJs, INTJ, ENTPs & INTPs)
Conceptualizers may have many diverse interests and possess a variety of skills. But what is most important for them to find career satisfaction is how they’re able to employ those skills. Conceptualizers need work which continually challenges them, allows them to continue to learn and develop new competences, uses their creative problem-solving skills, gives them lots of independence and provides the opportunity for advancement.
- Business – Senior leader (CEO, CFO, VP, etc.), management analyst, information security analyst, marketing executive, internationals sales and marketing, program and/or project manager, real estate developer, business development director, theater producer, college or university administrator
- Finance – Personal financial advisor, economic analyst, mortgage broker, stockbroker, credit investigator, investment banker, corporate finance attorney, economist, venture capitalist, treasure, controller or chief financial officer
- Consulting / training – Business consultant, program designer, management trainer, employment development specialist, labor relations manager, political consultant, cybersecurity consultant, legislative coordinator, lobbyist, technical trainer
- Professional – Attorney, judge, college professor, chemical engineer, intellectual property attorney, psychiatrist, environmental scientist, pathologist, airline pilot, surgeon
- Technology / science – Software developer, networking specialist, software and web engineer, computer and information research scientist, robotics network manager, artificial intelligence technologist, project manager, database administrator, information and design architect, computer and information research scientist
- Business / finance – Management consultant, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, investment banker, budget analyst, economist, personal financial planner, market research analyst, business investor / trader
- Technology – Scientist, information security analyst, software developer, computer programmer, robotics and manufacturing engineer, astronomer, cybersecurity specialist, computer animator, database administrator, artificial intelligence technologist
- Education / Creative – College professor, administrator, anthropologist, archivist, writer, editor, inventor, media planner, columnist / critic / commentator, blogger, art director
- Healthcare – Psychiatrist, psychologist, neurologist, cardiologist, pharmacologist, pathologist, surgeon, geneticist, microbiologist
- Professional – Attorney, judge, strategic planner, engineer, architect, environmental science, intelligence specialist, pilot, criminologist and ballistics expert, news analyst and writer
- Entrepreneurship / business – Entrepreneur, management analyst, venture capitalist, owner: restaurant / bar, attorney: litigator, human resources recruiter, ombudsman, commercial property manager, urban and regional planner, university / college president, security analyst
- Marketing / creative – Advertising creative director, public relations specialist, sports marketer, radio/TV talk show host, producer, actor, journalist, director; stage / motion pictures / TV, social media manager, copywriter
- Planning / development – Strategic planner, business development director, logistics consultant, personal financial advisor, investment banker, urban planner, real estate developer, network specialist, industrial design manager, special projects developer
- Politics / Miscellaneous – Politician, campaign manager, political analyst, social scientist, lobbyist, environmental scientist, educational psychologist, athletic coach and scout, criminalist and ballistics expert, detective
- Technology – software developer, computer systems analyst, networking specialist, computer animator, information security analyst, gamification developer, cybersecurity specialist, mobile application developer, artificial intelligence technologist, robotics network manager
- Healthcare / science – Neurologist, surgeon, pharmaceutical researcher, medical scientist, biomedical engineer, microbiologist, geneticist, physicist, veterinarian, virologist
- Professional / business – Lawyer, economist, psychiatrist, market research analyst, architect, investment banker, intellectual property attorney, business analyst, venture capitalist, entrepreneur
- Academic / creative – College professor, archaeologist, anthropologist, historian, philosopher, creative writer, artist, inventor / columnist / critic / commentator, producer, film editor, art director
Idealists (ENFJs, INFJs, ENPs & INFPs)
Idealists may have many diverse interests and possess a variety of skills. But what is most important for them to find career satisfaction is how they’re able to employ those skills. Idealists thrive when they are doing work which is personally meaningful and in sync with their deeply held values, helps others, and occurs in a tension-free, supportive setting where they can provide creative input and develop close personal relationships with co-workers.
- Communications – Advertising account executive, public relations specialist, social media manager, writer / journalist, fundraiser, recruiter, TV producer, politician, lobbyist, copywriter
- Counseling / human services – Psychologist, social worker, career counselor / life coach, clergy / ministry, employee assistance counselor, eldercare specialist, sociologist, social services coordinator, school psychologist, corporate outplacement counselor
- Education – High school / college teacher, librarian, nonprofit director, child welfare worker, planned-giving officer, philanthropic consultant, music director, college and university administrator, parent instructor, child development, dean of students / college
- Healthcare – Occupational therapist, public health educator, holistic health practitioner, dietitian / nutritionist, speech-language pathologist / audiologist, chiropractor, genetic counselor, recreational therapist, hospital ombudsman, patient advocate
- Business / consulting – Human resources consultant / trainer, customer service representative, employment specialist, sales trainer, personnel recruiter, outplacement consultant, ecotourism specialist, talent coordinator, corporate / team trainer, labor relations specialist
- Counseling – Clinical psychologist, career counselor, school counselor, employee assistance counselor, eldercare specialist, marriage and family therapist, life coach, child advocate, substance abuse counselor, developmental psychologist
- Education / religion – High / college teacher (humanities), curriculum designer, educational consultant, librarian, sociologist, museum educator, parenting instructor, special education teacher, Priest / Rabbi / Minister, director of religious education
- Creative – artist, playwright, novelist, poet, interior designer, brand manager, literary agent, creative producer, educational software developer, exhibit designer
- Healthcare / social services – Director – social service agency, mediator / conflict resolution specialist, social worker, community health educator, director of non-profit, grant coordinator, dietitian / nutritionist, crisis hotline operator, adult day care coordinator, chiropractor
- Creative – Journalist, screenwriter / playwright, actor, musician / composer, documentary filmmaker, television producer, exhibit designer, creative director, costume designer, cartoonist / animator
- Marketing / planning – Market research analyst, public relations specialist, advertising account executive, copywriter / publicity writer, strategic planner, social media manager, marketing specialist, urban planner
- Education / counseling – Special education teacher, professor (art / drama / music), child welfare counselor, social scientist, philanthropic consultant, anthropologist, career counselor, psychologist, substance abuse / employee assistance counselor, development director
- Healthcare / social services – Dietitian / nutritionist, speech and language pathologist / audiologist, holistic health practitioner, physical therapist, chiropractor, public health educator, urban and regional planner, legal mediator, occupational therapist, social worker
- Entrepreneurial / business – Inventor, organizational development consultant, human resources trainer, management consultant, director of diversity / equity and inclusion, public relations specialist, environmental lawyer, personnel recruiter, labor relations specialist, advertising account manager
- Creative / arts – Artist, writer, poet, journalist, architect, actor, editor, video game designer, composer, interior designer
- Education – College professor (humanities), researcher, librarian, educational consultant, special education teacher, planned-giving officer, grant writer / coordinator, student affairs professional, archivist / curator, curriculum specialist
- Counseling / religion – Clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, social worker, employee assistance counselor, social worker, legal mediator, career counselor / coach, minister / priest / rabbi / imam, religious educator, genealogist
- Healthcare – Dietitian / nutritionist, holistic health practitioner, occupational therapist, ethicist, geneticist, art therapist, home health worker, speech-language pathologist / audiologist, patient advocate
- Organizational development – Employee development specialist, human resources trainer, social scientist, director of diversity / equity and inclusion, labor relations specialist, corporate / team trainer, mediator / conflict-resolution specialist, director of onboarding, talent management specialist, recruiter