Matching Career Options with Personality Types

personality matching for careers

“Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it”. – Katherine Whitehorn, Journalist & Columnist

Both an introvert working as a salesperson in a car dealership and an extrovert working in a quiet cubicle-divided office space would quickly realize the importance of personality matching for careers. While there are many factors to consider during a job search, such as salary, benefits, schedule, and commuting time, the work culture, environment, and expectations are important as well. These are questions that can and should be discussed during the interview for the job seeker’s awareness. What type of culture does the company possess? Is this a fast-paced, metrics or performance-driven environment? Are employees expected to work independently and with minimal oversight or is there an emphasis on team work and frequent collaboration? This information can help candidates determine If the company or the job is the right fit for them.

Personality Matching For Career Types

Strengths

All job seekers can benefit from an honest reflection of individual strengths and weaknesses and personality styles. Create a list of top strengths related to personality, work style, and habits. Perhaps you have excellent attention to detail, work well under pressure, or naturally emerge as the leader in group settings. Sometimes it’s easy to create a list of strong attributes while other times we may need some help. A great source of reference is previous performance evaluations; what did your supervisor make note of? Were you praised for supporting your coworkers or brainstorming innovative ideas to save time or money?

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are not as pleasant to focus on but are just as critical to identify. Awareness of our weak areas can promote extra attention or commitment to improving things we struggle with, or honest communication with supervisors and peers to manage expectations or prevent challenges. For example, if you are aware that time management is something you typically struggle with, you can plan for success by setting smaller milestones, check-ins with coworkers, or calendar reminders of important deadlines. 

It’s important to note that strengths and weaknesses differ from likes and dislikes. The former are not a matter of preference as much as they are a reflection of individual skills, attributes, and natural tendencies related to personality, a more innate and static representative of who we are as people and, subsequently, as professionals in a chosen career field.  Examples of this dichotomy are an introvert who truly loves being around lots of people but tends to get burnt out after too much interaction, or someone who loves to chat but isn’t necessarily the best at public speaking because they struggle with memorizing speeches. In this case, being talkative is part of personality but public speaking is an identified weakness.

During this identification and brainstorming process, consider talking to previous supervisors, coworkers, peers, friends, and family members. There is a wealth of psychosocial research indicating that how we see ourselves is often different than how others see or experience us to be. Internal biases, personal emotions, and self-confidence (or lack thereof) can positively or negatively impact how we judge our own strengths and weaknesses. Prior feedback from trusted sources or past experiences can also shape how we see ourselves. Ask those who have had the opportunity to interact with or work closely with you what they consider to be your top strengths. Is there anything they would recommend working on? Take constructive feedback and opinions into consideration and compare them to your own list.

What is Personality?

While strengths and weaknesses are things that we’re good or not so good at, personality is more of who we are and how we relate to the world around us. The American Psychological Association (2019) refers to personality as, “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving”. Understanding how we generally tend to think, feel, and behavior will help assess whether certain working environments may be positive or negative or whether we are more likely to succeed in certain environments.

The actual process of assessing personality can be tricky, especially with individual biases and fluid perceptions or moods. It’s important to note that personality is how we think, feel, and behave most of the time. Maybe Sally is generally more agreeable and easy-going, for example, and Bill tends to be more assertive and outspoken. This isn’t to say that sometimes Sally isn’t disagreeable at times, or that Bill can’t be quiet in certain situations, but overall, they tend to exhibit a certain set of personality traits in most situations.

Here are some personality traits commonly used to describe ourselves or others:  outgoing, argumentative, uptight, calm, affectionate, antagonistic, suspicious, open, amiable, loyal, mature, methodical, caring, personable, rational, dramatic, efficient, self-critical, energetic, serious, and friendly. Traits can be classified as positive or negative (in terms of their effect) and are often grouped together. For example, someone may be described as “mature, sophisticated, and scholarly” or “serious, self-critical, and uptight”.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Many companies and government agencies use personality tests to determine if a candidate will be a good fit for a position or the culture, and whether they possess certain attributes. Job seekers can use similar tests to assess themselves. One of the most popular and well-known personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The official assessment can be taken in person or online and consists of 93 questions in four key areas: directing and receiving energy, taking in information, making decisions, and approaching the outside world (The Myers-Briggs Company). The assessment results indicate a specific personality type. A possible result, “INTJ’s” have four primary personality characteristics: Introversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging. They are considered to be vision-oriented, quietly innovative, insightful, conceptual, independent, and determined. INTJ’s may be well-suited for careers as researchers, strategists, teachers, psychologists, or analysts. ESFP’s (Extroversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving) may consider a career in acting, child care, or coaching. The Myers-Briggs assessment can be taken independently but the Foundation recommends seeking a MBTI Certified Practitioner who can administer the assessment, analyze the results, and provide detailed feedback and recommendations.

Additional Personality Tests

Self-Directed Search: Based off the RIASEC Theory (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social,  Enterprising, and Conventional), the SDS asks questions about aspirations, activities, competencies, and interests. A report is generated that includes a summary, description of the different RIASEC types, a personalized list of recommended occupations and fields of study based on the results, salary data, career clusters, and links to resources.

Cost: $9.95

Standard SDS

SDS for Veterans

My Next Move O*Net Interests Profile: A tool provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, the interests profile narrows down career interests and associated paths for transitioning service members and veterans. Results provide information on preparation required for different careers and options based on skill level.

Cost: Free

My Next Move

The Big Five Personality Test: A quick test (about 10 minutes) that scores for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. It assesses interpersonal tendencies and how your personality traits apply to life, work, and relationships. Considered the “most scientifically sound way of classifying personality differences”.

Cost: Free

Truity

MAPP Career Assessment Test: This test is based off Myers-Briggs and analyzes preferences for completing tasks and reasoning. The results provide recommended career categories based on the Strong Interest Inventory and studies show that this is proven to be consistent over time.

Cost: Free

MAPP Career Assessment

Career Fitter: A 60-question test that assesses personality, career and job recommendations, work personality, ideal work environment, strengths, preferred management systems, and how you work in a team.

Cost: Free

CareerFitter

Job Vs. Career

Finding a career that matches with your personality, provides personal fulfillment and sense of pride, and makes you excited to go into work everyday is a worthwhile goal. Personality tests are part of a comprehensive and curious approach to the job search process. By using these available tools, job seekers can narrow down career fields and different positions that have the highest likelihood of leading to true job satisfaction.

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