Since the publication of Do What You Are (DWYA) thirty years ago, career counselors have recognized the critical role Personality Type plays in career satisfaction and success. When my co-author Barbara Barron and I were first doing our research for DWYA way back when, we interviewed hundreds of people of all types representing dozens of careers. Our Eureka! moment came when we discovered that for each of the sixteen personality types, there were certain elements that led to greater career satisfaction. Later on, we realized they also led to career success.
In a moment, I’ll share your “career satisfiers” based on your personality type. But first, I’d like to tell you why these elements provide such an accurate” blueprint.”
Why are satisfiers important?
Every type has its own unique strengths and potential blind spots. For the most part, our greatest strengths come from using those aspects of our “type” which come most naturally.
Conversely, our blind spots rear their ugly little heads when our work requires us to do things that we don’t naturally do well. For example, people who are very extraverted are usually drawn to and energized by being around people. So, interacting with others is one of their natural strengths and something they look forward to. Hence, a job which encourages lots of interaction can be quite fulfilling. But suppose that person’s job did not allow for much interaction with others, and to make matters (much) worse, requires them to be physically separated from people, and the action as well! It’s not hard to imagine this person being unhappy, and even much more prone to burnout.
It’s important to note that nobody is just an Extravert or an Introvert (or a Sensor, Intuitive, Thinker, Feeler, Judger or Perceiver for that matter). Each type is made of three additional components, which also need to be “nourished” for people to feel fulfilled.
Before disclosing each type’s career satisfiers, let me offer one more example. Judging types (people whose type includes the letter “J” – ESTJ, INFJ, etc.) usually crave order and structure. They pride themselves on their organizational skills, like to make – and keep – plans, and above all else, are productive! For Js, the work environment can have a lot to do with their satisfaction. So, going to work each morning to an efficiently run office, where everyone knows what is expected of them, where they have adequate resources to do the job well, and control over their times and talents feels good.
But what if the environment is chaotic?
...where demands and expectations are constantly changing?
...where they have little control over their own actions, and seldom experience closure on the projects they’re working on?
It’s easy to see how this would not be a job most Js would be eager to go to every day.
Temperament and Career Satisfaction
Readers of my previous blogs may know that I’m a big believer in Temperament Theory, which is principally the work of Dr. David Keirsey. A very shorthand explanation is that there are four temperaments – which I think of as four different “human natures.” Temperament can play a big role in career satisfaction and success because it describes each type’s core values, key drives and preferred style of communicating. To me, Temperament theory and the Jung/Myers Personality Type model enjoy a beautifully symbiotic relationship. In my books, I refer to the four Temperaments as Traditionalists, Experiencers, Conceptualizers and Idealists.
Below is a brief description of what each of the four temperaments need for career satisfaction and success, followed by five key “Career Satisfiers” for people of your individual four-letter type. You’ll probably agree that a career which included all of these elements would be quite fulfilling. But because all individuals are unique, some items on this list will resonate with you, and others with another person of your type.
As you review this list of career satisfiers for your type, try to prioritize the three items which are most important to you. Then, when weighing career options, ask yourself, how many of these three does the opportunity you are considering provide? This exercise can help you determine which career will bring you the greatest satisfaction and success.
Traditionalists (ESTJs, ISTJs, ESFJs & ISFJS)
Thrive in a stable, predictable work environment, where they can be of service, have a high level of responsibility and control and can see the results of their efforts.
ESTJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging Type)
1. Involves working with others, and allows you to exercise a lot of control
2. Lets you work in an organized, efficient way to reach your goals
3. Is done in a predictable, stable environment
4. Has practical uses and where you can see concrete results
5. Has clear expectations, a consistent organizational structure and no drama!
ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging Type)
1. Involves producing a real product or service
2. Calls on your ability to be accurate with important facts and details
3. Lets you be independent, with plenty of time to work alone
4. Has results that are measurable, and standards are applied and respected
5. Has clear objectives and expectations are made explicit
ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging Type)
1. Lets you work with other warm, friendly people in a supportive environment
2. Helps people in real and practical ways
3. Gives you a fair amount of control over how you do your job
4. Has clear expectations so you know just what is expected of you
5. Is done within a friendly setting where you feel your efforts are appreciated
ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging Type)
1. Involves work that you personally feel is important and worthwhile
2. Lets you focus your energy on one project or one person at a time
3. Requires careful observation and accuracy, uses your talent for remembering facts and details
4. Lets you work primarily one-on-one, helping others, or alongside others who share your values
5. Gives you a private workspace so you can concentrate fully with few interruptions
Experiencers (ESTPs, ISTPs, ESFPs & ISFPS)
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, have the freedom to act and not be micromanaged.
ESTP (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving Type)
1. Lets you meet lots of fun people and offers something different every day
2. Lets you use skills you already have to solve real problems
3. Is active, where you get to be physical and perhaps use tools
4. Is done without a lot of rules or standard ways of doing things
5. Lets you organize your time and not have someone looking over your shoulder
ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving Type)
1. Entails physical activity and allows you to move around a lot
2. Lets you work independently with minimum supervision
3. Involves doing a variety of different tasks
4. Lets you see what needs doing now, and provides the resources to do it
5. Gives you plenty of free time to pursue your interests and hobbies
ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving Type)
1. Lets you work with lots of fun people in an active and social environment
2. Allows you to solve problems that help people in real time
3. Lets you have fun and enjoy every day with a minimum of rules or supervision
4. May involves juggling multiple activities or projects
5. Is done in a friendly and relaxed environment, without hidden agendas
ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving Type)
1. Is consistent with your values, and is something you care deeply about
2. Is done with others in a supportive environment with cooperative co-workers
3. Makes use of your talent for paying attention to important details
4. Gives you freedom to work independently but near other nice people - without tension or drama
5. Gives you a sense of purpose and allows you to see how you help people
Conceptualizers (ENTJs, INTJ, ENTPs & INTPs)
Need work which continually challenges them, allows them to continue to learn and develop new competencies, uses their creative problem-solving skills, gives them lots of independence and provides the opportunity for advancement.
ENTJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging Type)
1. Uses your creative problem-solving skills to tackle challenging problems
2. Allows you to develop new competencies and advance your career
3. Lets you work with other goal-oriented people whom you respect
4. Allows you to lead others, but without engaging in personal “drama”
5. Lets you use your strategic, long range planning skills
INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging Type)
1. Allows you to work independently and do things your way
2. Lets you create and develop innovative solutions to problems
3. Provides you with a lot of control and autonomy
4. Lets you work with others whom you respect
5. Reflects and meets your very high standards
ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving Type)
1. Includes lots of variety of tasks and situations
2. Lets you work many other interesting, talented people
3. Involves constantly learning and developing new competencies
4. Makes use of your talent for finding creative solutions to problems
5. Provides you with lots of independence and limited supervision
INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving Type)
1. Is intellectually challenging and requires solving complex problems
2. Lets you set and maintain your own very high standards
3. Lets you work independently with plenty of quiet time
4. Gives you opportunities to develop new competencies
5. Is done in a flexible environment without too many rules
Idealists (ENFJs, INFJs, ENPs & INFPs)
Thrive when they are doing work which is personally meaningful, that helps others, occurs in a tension-free, supportive setting where they can provide creative input and develop close personal relationships with co-workers.
ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging Type)
1. Involves work whose mission you believe in
2. Lets you establish and maintain warm and supportive relationships
3. Lets you develop creative solutions to problems that help people
4. Is done in a friendly, supportive, collaborative environment
5. Lets you be a part of a team of other creative people you trust and like
INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging Type)
1. Is in harmony with your personal values; supports your integrity
2. Gives you adequate time to formulate and process your ideas
3. Lets you create new ideas and/or approaches that benefit others
4. Is done in a friendly and tension-free environment
5. Lets you exercise significant control over your time and activities
ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving Type)
1. Lets you interact with lots of interesting people on a variety of projects
2. Lets you create new solutions to problems that will help people.
3. Is fun, challenging, and different from day-to-day
4. Does not involve dealing with excessive details or routine tasks
5. Rewards your enthusiasm, energy, and creativity.
INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving Type)
1. Is completely in sync with your personal values
2. Gives you time to develop your ideas and control over the process/product
3. Is self-directed, with a private workspace and plenty of uninterrupted time
4. Lets you work on inspiring projects with a minimum number of rules
5. Is done with other creative and caring individuals in a supportive environment
The Bottom Line
While Personality Type is not the only criteria you should consider when evaluating a career opportunity, it is certainly an important one. Of course, there are many other factors to consider such as proximity to family members and friends, being part of a community that shares your values, your present and future financial needs, etc.
But understanding your most important career-satisfiers increases your chances of making a decision that will bring you career fulfillment. Once you’ve determined which aspects of a career or job are most important, it will benefit you to try and find out if they exist in the opportunity you are considering. Of course, you can Google similar jobs/careers, and perhaps speak with some who hold the same position. But your most valuable intel – if you’re lucky enough to secure it – will come from speaking with someone who holds the same position in the organization you are considering joining.
And please remember. You deserve to have work that is personally fulfilling!