Myers Briggs Personality Type and Career Choice

Italian businessman talking on cellphone in Venice
Italian businessman talking on cellphone in Venice. Sam Edwards / Getty Images

You may have discovered, if you ever took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), that your personality type was classified as ESFJ. But, you may be unsure exactly what that means, especially in terms of your career choices. Don't fret, it's easy to clear up the confusion. The first thing you should know is that ESFJ is one of 16 personality types world-famous psychiatrist Carl Jung identified as compelling indicators of one's aptitude and innate personality. This boils down to a nature versus nurture issue. The MBTI, which many career guidance professionals use to help clients make career-related decisions, is based on Jung's personality theory. In 1971, Jung proposed that a person functions in four dominant personality areas that override all other traits.

What the Traits Reveal

The ESFJ personality type is significant for you and your career. According to the assessment, there are four pairs of opposite preferences for how we energize, perceive information, make decisions, and live our lives.

ESFJ: What Does Each Letter Mean?

  • E (Extroversion): You favor extroversion, which means that being around other people motivates you. You would enjoy regularly interacting with coworkers.
  • S (Sensing): You use only your five senses to take in information. It is not like you to see beyond what is right in front of you. You find the details very important.
  • F (Feeling): When you have to make a decision, you are guided by your emotions. You don't like giving criticism and are sensitive to others' needs.
  • J (Judging): You would rather work in a structured environment. You are very organized and are not intimidated by having to meet tight deadlines.

There are some important things to remember when you look at your code. Most significant, perhaps, is that it is no better to be one personality type than another. You should also note that Jung believed that while an individual may favor one member of each pair of preferences, each of us exhibits both members of each pair. That is excellent news because it means you are flexible. For example, you may prefer extroversion, but that doesn't mean you will fail if you have to work alone. Your preferences also interact with one another. Each aspect of your personality affects the others. Finally, don't be surprised if your preferences change over time. That could happen as you go through your life, mature, and learn to function better in the work world.

Using Your Code to Help You Make Career-Related Decisions

Knowing your personality type is interesting, but what you really need to know is how you can use the information to make sound decisions that lead to a satisfying and fruitful career. First, you need to understand how you can use your unique personality type to help you choose an occupation. The middle two letters, S and F, are the most informative markers for this purpose.

As an "S" [Sensing] you are practical and detail-oriented. You like solving concrete problems, and therefore, you should look for a career where you can regularly apply this trait. You also enjoy helping others, as evidenced by your preference for Feeling [F]. Occupations that require sensitivity toward others would bring you satisfaction [such as non-profit or community-based, work]. Consider the following careers:

Don't forget that you should consider more than your personality type when choosing a career. You should also take your interests, aptitudes, and career-related values into account.

Use the first and last letters of your type [E and J] to help you evaluate a work environment when you are deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. Given your preference for Extroversion [E], make sure your job entails regularly working alongside other people. And, your preference for Judging [J] means that a structured environment would be ideal for you.