Developed in the 1960s by mother daughter pair, Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myer, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is based on theories by prominent psychologist, Dr Carl Gustav Jung. Each year, more than 1.5 million MBTI personality tests are conducted across different individuals to help them explore various goals.
It’s usually employed by companies such as Ernst & Young to assess the job-fit of a potential candidate, improve their communications with their colleagues and to enhance team unity in an organization. This is achieved by increasing one’s self-awareness of his or her strengths and weaknesses through personality type identification.
Here, we go through the basics of the MBTI assessment and highlight some careers for selected personalities among the 16 possible MBTI types.
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We will look at a brief introduction of the comprehensive personality tool that can help you with a career choice. There are plenty of free online MBTI assessment tests (like this one) although you can get more accurate readings from the real thing itself.
What Does The MBTI Assess?
The MBTI is based on the idea that our personality is made up of 4 dimensions which have 2 opposites (dichotomies). We can be:
- extraverted (E) or introverted (I)
- sensitive (S) or intuitive (N)
- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
- a judgmental (J) or perceptive (P)
The MBTI test requires the test-taker to answer 93 forced-choice questions (choose 1 of 2 possible answers) to determine which of the two sides we lean more towards in each of the 4 aspects.
In the end, each individual receives a unique profile set type out of the 16 possible combinations, such as “Introvert-Sensing-Thinking-Perception” or “Extravert-Intuition-Feeling-Judging”. Our "type" helps us understand our preferences, strengths, weaknesses and compatibility with others and thus can affect the career path we choose to undertake.
Breaking Down The Aspects
Let’s take a look at what these aspects mean.
Extraversion (E) – Introversion (I)
“Outward-turning” (extraversion) refers to the tendency to be sociable and energized by action and people, while “inward-turning” (introversion) refers to the tendency to be more thoughtful and preferring to have deep conversations with fewer people.
It is a case of either focusing on the internal world of ideas and reflections or to experience life through the external world of behaviour, action, people and things.
Perceiving: Sensing (S) – Intuition (N)
How do we perceive and make sense of the world around us? Sensing people prefer precedents, facts and details. On the other hand, intuitive people love to explore relationships, patterns and imagination.
Being dominant in one area significantly affects how we habitually see things.
Judging: Thinking (T) – Feeling (F)
This part of the personality predisposes us to how we make decisions on a regular basis. Scoring high for thinking (T) means that one is able to stay consistent, logical and objective during the decision-making process while people who prefer feeling (F) will consider the emotions and the needs of other people.
Put simply, thinking people emphasize tasks while feeling people are more into social relationships.
Judging (J) – Perceiving (P)
The last dimension of personality involves our preference for either Judging (Thinking – Feeling) or Perceiving (Sensing – Intuition) when it comes to dealing with the outside world (i.e. behaviour, action, people and things).
A judging individual will want things to be settled quickly and will exhibit either thinking or feeling styles in their decision-making process, whereas a perceptive individual will be more open and flexible to views and less interested in coming up with conclusions. He or she is more interested in perceiving the world through either sensing or intuition.
The 16 Personality Types & Career Choices
Upon identification, the individual’s personality profile is presented as four-letter acronyms such as “ISFJ” or “ENTP”. Here is a distribution of MBTI Types (based on U.S. Population in 1996).
(Image Source: Delta Associates)
Everyone falls into one of these combinations, and the resulting personality that arises from their interactions creates the 16 unique profiles we see from the table above.
The following are just a couple of career descriptions and the specific personality types which I believe would fit them. Do check them out after you’re done with the actual MBTI or the online version. If not, try having a look to see which of these descriptions resonate with you.
Dealing mostly with codes, software engineers and computer programmers tend to work alone. Therefore, Introverts would probably fit well.
Depending on the nature of their work, they can lean to either sensing or intuition, each with their own benefits. For work involving maintenance and enhancement of software systems, a tendency towards sensing is advantageous since they generally favor working within pre-existing structures or systems and to come up with pracitical solutions.
For those who do more research and developmental projects, an intuitive mind is key as they typically provide the innovations required during the early stages of a fresh project.
They also have to be technically oriented, and stay logical and objective in their work. Individuals who function independently and are adept at regulating their internal emotions are often in demand. This is because they need organized and decisive people who are disciplined enough to see through laborious projects.
Individuals who score high for Judging often desire achievement and strive to seek closure to any projects through comprehensive planning.
The important thing for a computer tech support specialist is to have a liking for hands-on experience. They must be able to sense what technical problems are occuring and troubleshoot it in the quickest possible manner. Because the problems they face is typically immediate, what is imperative to them is the here-and-now and how they actually resolve urgent issues.
As most of their workplace problems are solved through their logical and objective diagnoses and analyses, computer tech support specialists are less concerned about their own emotions or other people’s. Even when asking clients questions while investigating the source of the problem, their focus stays on the accurate interpretation of the issue.
For the computer tech support specialist, they just need to maintain their objectivity in their communication. Since there is usually more than one method to troubleshoot an error, computer tech support specialists also have to maintain a Perceiving frame of mind and consider multiple problem causes before coming up with a variety of potential solutions.
Excellent social and communication skills are a must for any marketer as they meet with various individuals within the company on a regular basis and typically engage in persuading existing and potential clients. Hence, people with an extraverted outlook who can make conversations with different types of people are ideal.
As marketers are responsible for forecasting demand, they need to be insightful enough to set their eyes on the future and recognize opportunities for the organization. They’re expected to unleash their creativity and think out-of-the-box when it comes to marketing strategies and advertising. Therefore, individuals would preferably have an intuitive mindset.
In decision making, there are two possible kinds of marketers: one who listens to their emotions and pays attention to the feelings of others, and another that relies on their sense of objectivity and practicality. Both are equally competent.
Marketers as a whole are expected to be highly adaptable to the changing business landscape. They should be flexible with their thinking and habitually keep an open mind.
Artists love to observe and interact with the world using their senses and are hence very perceptive to their environment. Such sensory acuteness is a testament as to why they favour hands-on experience.
Their keen sense of aesthetics and beauty is rooted in their deep self-awareness of their own emotions. It even extends to the feelings of the people they interact with, so much so that artists are capable of picking up the subtlest emotions conveyed through body language.
This inclination towards sensory perceptivity and their heightened awareness of emotions leads them to create expressive art pieces. As artists, they are very creative and innovative individuals who often choose not to conform to societal norms and experiment with new experiences and/or ways of doing things.
Introverted or extraverted designers have their own communication methods when dealing with clients and creative directors to determine the requirements of their end product. More importantly though, designers of any field need to understand the relationships between information and data and connect the dots before they can come up with good designs.
While a graphic designers need to grasp what appeals to the intended audience and effectively deliver the messages that their clients wish to convey, a fashion designer is also expected to be skilled at discerning existing fashion trends and making future fashion predictions.
All in all, they need to see beyond what is already out there and imagine new possibilities and this is done through their intuitive sense. They also need to understand the emotions and needs of their end-users as gives them an edge in their designs.
Designers have to consider the clearly-defined goals involved in different stages of the design process before they can even begin their work. Their work performance is therefore highly dependent on their judgment and decision-making abilities.
INFP – Writers & Editors
A lot of reflection and thinking happens in a writer’s head before they can express themselves adequately with words. To do that, a writer spend time alone with his thoughts and ideas. Without a propensity for introversion, it might be hard for someone to enjoy the writing process.
At the same time, writers tend to be idealistic and forward-looking people. They’re always looking for ways to inspire others with their writing. As abstract thinkers, they’re very interested in what their subconscious mind is telling them.
Writers tend to be in touch with their own emotions as they normally write their pieces with the intention of arousing the reader’s emotions. Their great sense of self-awareness of their own feelings help them relate to how others feel.
They would rather not jump into conclusions too quickly, preferring to stay curious and to indulge in their imagination. Since they don’t make decisions hastily, they would rather not work under deadlines and have greater autonomy for their work. Such open-mindedness facilitates their generation of ideas in their mind to help them write better.
The "INFP" profile is notably known as the personality type for many of the greatest writers in the world. Some famous individuals who’ve been said to be INFP are George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe and J.K. Rowling.
I’m an INTJ, What About You?
Personally, I think that even though the MBTI does speak volumes about our individual tendencies, we are still influenced by our peers, the media and other cultural and social factors. It’s easier for us to pursue careers which are best suited to our temperaments, but only if we actually love the work we do.
Fortunately, we have the conscious choice to do things differently from what our personality dictates.
Just as a leopard never changes its spots, one’s personality may be harder to change but you can work hard to align yourself to the expectations and demands of your dream career, and remind yourself to cultivate the right habits.
Take these words from the ancient Chinese philospher, Lao Tzu, as parting advice:
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”