Can MBTI really help you pick a good career?

Honestly, no. When it comes to a good fit, only you can be the one to determine that. What the personality assessment, and any career assessment for that matter, can do is give you some ideas.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is often used in the career exploration process. The tool has been translated into 21 languages and is used all over the world to help people better understand themselves.

I have used MBTI for over 15 years with individuals and groups. Part of the delight in doing MBTI-based groups is getting to see people like you.  The aha moments are inspiring and highly entertaining.

Finding your personality type can be a validating process. Responses I hear from people is relief in recognizing themselves and how they move through the world.

MBTI is based on the work of Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist who wrote Psychological Types, published in 1921. Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers developed the tool after reading the book and wanting to make it accessible to more people.

Indeed Jung’s work is heady material. Not for the feint of mind.

Even today, Jung's observations on the brain are impressive. 

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The result of doing the assessment is a 4-letter “type.” There are a total of 16 personality types.

When I first knew about the types, I questioned how 16 types could encapsulate everyone on the planet.

But there was much more than I had first seen.

The model is dynamic. There is a constant interplay between our dominant and non-dominant functions. The dominant functions are where we excel. The non-dominant functions are the least developed parts of ourselves.

This is all fascinating, dives deep into our outer and inner world, and slides into Jung’s work on the unconscious and our shadow side.

As for careers it is when we are working in our dominant function where we will do and be our best.

When we are using our non-dominant functions, we will struggle. For example, I can now see that when I was working in that factory, it was all about my non-dominant functions – focussing on details and doing repetitive work. The result was one disengaged, unhappy and unsatisfied worker.

Since 1940 when the first assessment was used, researchers have studied people and their types. They looked at people who experience the most satisfaction in their jobs. From that they developed listings of careers that might be a good fit.

Out of the four-letters that comprise each type, what researchers found is that the middle two letters are the ones that are most related to careers and fit.

What are the middle two letters? Here is a description of each of the letters:

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There are a total of 4 combinations of the middle letters. In the table below, you can see where each of the combinations like to focus their energy and how they do that.


What does this mean for careers?

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Below are some examples of careers that would fit each of the types above.

What kinds of careers work best for NT?

  • In the choice of careers, technical types of occupations appeal to NTs. This could include Information Technology, Engineering, and Law.

What kinds of careers work well for a NF?

  • Any type of career that involves encouraging people would appeal to a NF. They have interests in psychology and human resources.

What type of work would make a ST shine?

  • The practical and analytic parts of ST types would draw them to business, administration and law enforcement.

What are some careers for people with SF preferences?

  • Because they like working with people, careers that would interest this type include community services and specific kinds of health care.

A word of caution.

Looking at careers and personality type does not mean you can’t do an occupation that is not in your preference. It is a matter of how you might approach the situation.

For example, I can see that a teacher could be in each of the 4 types.

  • A NT would do well in a role where they are teaching technical skills, focussing on concepts.
  • A teacher with a NF preference would do well in assisting people in practicum placements where they would encourage others.
  • ST teachers would do well in practical situations such as teaching esthetics or accounting skills.
  • A teacher with a SF preference would do well in environments such as healthcare where they would teach practical skills focussing on helping people.

The people who really enjoy the aspect of teaching would probably have a Feeling preference as they are fascinated with people and are energized by appreciating and supporting others.

Mostly it is a matter of what you are actually doing in your job.

For example, nurses can have positions where they primarily do desk work.

It’s all good news. In a world where specialization is becoming the norm and the number of careers is dizzying, knowing your preferences can help target your choices.

Delving into what makes you tick also leans you towards greater work satisfaction. Couldn’t our workplaces need more of that??

Interested in exploring your world through MBTI? As a certified MBTI practitioner, I can help you.  Check it out here


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