Many job searchers have heard about the classic book What Color Is Your Parachute? 2016: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. But for those who aren’t familiar, it basically promotes the idea that you should pursue a career that is in line with your personality type.
Of course, it helps to know what your personality type is to begin with.
Personally I’ve always struggled with this. I’m a chameleon of sorts; I feel that my personality changes depending on my mood, my environment (which includes the people that I’m surrounded by) and the time of the month (seriously…I never had PMS issues when I was younger, but now it’s a thing 🙁 ). For most personality tests based on the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, my result is INFP. However I’m often on the fence in regards to the Thinking/Feeling facet (as evidenced below), and on the Extraverted/Introverted facet (not evident on the test results below…but I only came up as 9% Introverted on another test I took).
The standard career suggestions for INFP’s are artsy or academic careers…such as psychologist or author. However there are actually a long list of careers that could be good fits. But can you really move to far beyond the esoteric “healer” designation given to INFP’s and still be comfortable; and more importantly financially sound?
The trick is to use your personality type as a foundation, and not as a mold. What does that mean exactly? Well, let’s take the “healing” designation literally. Say you really like the prospect of helping and healing people. You have no interest in being in college for 8+ years, so being a medical doctor is out. Ok, how about being a nurse? Well the idea of working 12 hour shifts in a hospital, dealing with no only the public, but a sickly public, may be a deal breaker. Or is it? Truth be told, nurses, especially RN’s are in demand in many areas besides the classic medical setting. You can write, you can be a consultant for medical device and software companies, you can go into academia. And these are all positions that pay enough to where you won’t feel that your tuition dollars were wasted. You just need to think outside of the box.
And for those of us who are INFP’s, that is something that is not too hard for us.
So How Does This All Fit Together?
Well for now, the most important thing is that my career not force me to go too far outside of my natural personality type. Other than that, I do not feel any pressure to hang up my hat on corporate America and go live on a commune somewhere. That just isn’t realistic (for me at least).
Perhaps more than others I need to outline a shortlist of deal-breakers. For example I can deal with public speaking, but I could not engage in constant hard-line sales. Money motivates me…but not enough to kill my empathy for people (I am not saying that sales people do not have empathy; what I am saying is that I personally do not enjoy being solicited, and I erroneously assume that everyone else is like me, which sets up a recipe for disaster in the traditional sales world).
Also there are four areas of the classic personality profile. In the spirit of true compromise, not every area needs to be catered to by your career. I can force myself into being more extroverted or more judging if the position offered greater financial benefits than the alternative.
From what I see your success or failure is only tied to your personality type as much as you are willing to let yourself be defined by it. People who are inflexible in all areas are rarely successful (I’m talking about those who forge their own success, not those who inherit their positions or status). Any career mishaps that happen to me or anyone else are not due to my personality type…but rather how much I let my personality get in the way of smart career decisions.