ESFP: Your Myers Briggs Personality Type and Your Career

Using Your Myers Briggs Personality Type to Make Career Decisions

Veterinarian doing a check-up on a Viszla
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You're an ESFP! Huh? You just found out your personality type—ESFP—and you're feeling more than a little lost. You've heard people talking about personality type and how knowing yours can help you make career-related decisions. So you went about learning what your type is, perhaps by working with a career development professional who administered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or similar instrument.

Now what?

The Myers Briggs Basics

Having information you don't understand or know how to utilize can be, understandably, frustrating. So, let's end that here. By the time you finish reading this article you will have a basic understanding of your personality type and how you can use it to help you plan your career. ESFP is one of 16 personality types psychiatrist Carl Jung identified in his theory of personality. Jung believed that all individuals have four pairs of opposite preferences for the way in which they energize, perceive information, make decisions and live their lives. The four pairs are:

  • Introversion [I] and Extroversion [E]: How you energize
  • Sensing [S] and Intuition [N]: How you perceive information
  • Thinking [T] and Feeling [F]: How you make decision
  • Judging [J] and Perceiving [P]: How you live your life

Notice each letter that represents one of the preferences in every pair is present in your personality type, ESFP.

That means you exhibit those preferences more strongly than the other ones in each pair. You prefer to energize through extroversion, perceive information through sensing, make decisions by feeling and live your life by perceiving. This is still all a bit confusing, but it will become more clear as we move along.

E, S, F and P: What Each Letter of Your Personality Type Code Means

  • E: Reading the word extroversion, friendly and outgoing come to mind. While that may be true of those who prefer extroversion, what it really means in this context is that you get energy from external forces, for example, other people.
  • S: A preference for sensing means you tend to use only your five senses to decode any information you receive. You don't make assumptions beyond what you can see, hear, smell, taste and touch. You are focused on the present.
  • F: Your decision-making is guided by your feelings and values. You are sensitive to the needs of other people and consider how your actions will affect them. Your beliefs are very important to you.
  • P: Flexibility and spontaneity are hallmark traits of someone with a preference for a perceiving lifestyle. You don't like deadlines and rather not have to plan ahead to meet them. You are, however, great at dealing with change.

When you think about your preferences, keep the following in mind: You may prefer to do things a certain way, but you can adapt and use the opposite preference when you find yourself in a situation that requires you to do so. Your preferences aren't set for life.

They may change as you go through your life. Finally, each preference in your type doesn't operate in isolation. It is affected by the other three.

Using Your Code to Help You Make Career-Related Decisions

When you are in the process of choosing an occupation, your personality type can be a very helpful guide, particularly the middle two letters, S and F. Your practical nature will serve you well if your occupation requires you to solve concrete problems. That doesn't mean everything is black and white for you. Your preference for feeling indicates that you need to do work that is in line with your personal values. Here are some occupations for you to explore: veterinary technician, fashion designer, athletic trainer and crime scene investigator.

For help deciding if you will be successful in a particular work environment, look at the two outermost letters in your personality type code: E and P.

Take into account your preference for extroversion and stay away from jobs in which you will be isolated. You need to be around other people as much as possible. As someone who prefers a perceiving lifestyle, a job that is less structured would be best for you. Remember that you are great at adapting to change, but not so good at sticking to deadlines and planning ahead.

The Myers-Briggs Foundation Web Site.
Baron, Renee. What Type Am I?. NY: Penguin Books
Page, Earle C. Looking at Type: A Description of the Preferences Reported by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Center for Applications of Psychological Type