Discover Your Personality

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and Careers for ISTJs and ENFPs


In this issue we'll look at two 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 is appealing to both types. I picked opposite types to illustrate the differences and why one career could appeal to one type yet be a poor choice for another.

We'll start with ISTJs. I selected bus driver as a career to illustrate good job characteristics for ISTJs. Now many ISTJs will say something like, "I never wanted to be a bus driver." That's fine. The point is to show why bus driver is a good fit for ISTJs.

What is it that makes bus driver a good choice? Think about what the job entails. There is a fixed schedule to follow. The route is laid out in advance. No on-the-spot decisions about where to go. The job requires attention to detail - traffic, passengers, weather conditions, the mechanical condition of the bus, and more. There is little need for intense personal contact. Most personal interactions will be brief and follow a well-known schema. People will purchase tickets and ask how to get to a destination, or other travel-related questions. A bus driver is unlikely to get involved in long discussions on the meaning of life at work. The job entails a great deal of responsibility for the safety and welfare of the passengers. A bus driver will often wear a uniform. This eliminates the question of what to wear to work and the expense of creating a wardrobe. A uniform conveys some authority and respect among the public. The work day is fixed. When a bus driver leaves work, it's over. There's little need to think about tomorrow or what I should have done differently today. Today is finished. Tomorrow will be much the same. Decisions are made using logic, i.e. obeying traffic laws. In many instances, the correct actions are known in advance. It's just a matter of doing the right thing at the right time, such as stopping at red lights and driving at green lights. Feelings are not as important when navigating through rush hour traffic. Attention to detail and following established procedures are.

Now let's contrast this profession with one that is appealing to ENFPs: journalist. What is it about journalism that makes such a job a good match for ENFPs?

Again, let's consider what's involved in the work. There is often a great deal of variety. One day you could be writing an article about the President coming to town, the next day it could be a fire, and the day after that it might be the local unemployment rate. This requires the journalist to be well-read in a wide range of subjects or be able to quickly learn enough about a subject to write an interesting piece about it. The job involves writing, which is inherently a creative process. While we might use the same words over and over, the way we put them together creates a unique piece of work. Journalists often work under tremendous time pressures and deadlines. This increases the adrenaline, since many ENFPs enjoy the rush of deadline pressure. It's when they do their best work (or so many say). The deadline pressure is important for another reason: it gets them moving. Many ENFPs can get so wrapped up in the interesting things going on around them that they can forget to actually write the article. Having some external pressure is actually better and more liberating than having no one pushing for completion. If told, "Just give me that article whenever you finish it," many ENFPs would never finish. Being told, "I need it by 4 o'clock!" is actually more likely to motivate them to complete it. It's likely they'll be furiously typing away at 3:55, as opposed to finishing at 10:00 and turning it in at 10:30 after a second or third review. Journalists often have a lot of interaction with a wide variety of people from all walks of life - just what many ENFPs love. They can never be sure what their work day will be like. They might start out preparing to write an article about retail sales when a fire breaks out at the local school. Having to drop everything and do something new immediately is a great thrill for them. It keeps them from getting bored, which can be a great challenge. Spontaneity and variety make the job interesting. Having someone hold them accountable for completing tasks is a good thing.

The message to consider in both these cases is the pattern these careers illustrate. The specifics of the individual job can vary. It's more about the kinds of things a person has to do, the setting, the amount of structure, and the people you work with than about job A or B.


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