Discover Your Personality

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Careers for INTPs and ESFJs


In this issue we'll look at two personality types and specific jobs for both. The purpose here is not to list all the jobs that might be interesting. Instead, we're going to focus on what about the jobs appeals to each type. I picked opposite types to illustrate the differences and why one career could appeal to one type yet be a poor choice for another. Other combinations have been covered in past newsletter issues.

We'll start with INTPs. For this personality type I selected the career of computer professional. Many aspects of working with a computer are immensely appealing to INTPs. First, logic rules the day. No one cares how a computer feels. The computer itself has no feelings. Either the program/system/web page works or it doesn't. If not, there's a logical reason why, and this reason can be discovered or circumvented. Having a good understanding of what's going on a system level makes the job easier. Many INTPs are good at seeing the big picture, particularly in complex systems. They might be less able to understand hurt feelings, so many are attracted to occupations where being ingenious and analytical are important. Highly developed people skills are frequently less interesting to them, although they too can develop these skills if they choose to. Many INTPs are good at concentrating on tough problems, especially those that involve in-depth analysis. Many can easily see flaws in systems or programs. They often have a creative side, which enables them to come up with unique or unconventional solutions to difficult problems. Many INTPs produce their best results when they have a fair amount of time to work alone or undisturbed. Few enjoy the role of supervisor and many prefer to work only with people who are highly competent in their fields. Likewise few enjoy working on the details or follow through on a project. Once the solution is obvious, most would prefer to tackle a new challenge, rather complete the necessary steps on the old one. "Boring details" is a redundancy for many INTPs.

Let's contrast the above with a career suitable for an ESFJ: elementary school teacher. Enthusiasm and energy are great advantages in teaching young children, and many ESFJs fit that description. The Sensor part of ESFJs is often attracted to doing something pragmatic, and elementary school teaches children basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, that everyone needs throughout life. The Feeling part frequently likes to work in environments that help people grow emotionally and intellectually. Likewise, a supportive, non-competitive, harmonious workplace is generally preferred by ESFJs. The Judging part of the ESFJ is attracted to the fixed curriculum, the structure of the school day and year, the classroom hours, tradition, routine, a sense of duty, and the security of working in a stable organization. ESFJs are often good at nurturing others and schools are great places to be such a person. Most ESFJs have a strong focus on people and service, coupled with a highly developed sense of community. Warmth is an adjective often used to describe ESFJs. Many are orderly and pay attention to details that support their people values. Most ESFJs need and want a great deal of people contact in their jobs and prefer to be active during the day. They are rarely interested in theoretical or abstract topics or work. ESFJs can idealize both people and organizations and therefore also tend to be quite loyal to both. They are often good at promoting fellowship and harmony among their fellow employees, and so often contribute greatly to the organization's well-being. They can be quite influential through relationships.

You might be one of these two types and never have considered either profession. That's perfectly okay. It's more important to see what makes these jobs attractive to these types. If you ask enough people, you're bound to find every type represented in every profession. For example, one study of computer professionals showed about 12% were INTPs, while ESFJs made up less than 1% of the group. Conversely, in a study of elementary school teachers, about 1.5% were INTPs and about 12% were ESFJs. Again, finding a career that matches your interests is more important than picking one from a list for your type.


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