Knowing Your Personality Type Part 1: The Secret to Finding a Truly Satisfying Career

This is the first part of two guest posts by Paul D. Tieger. Paul Tieger changed how career counseling is conducted around the world. The author of five books on Personality type and the preeminent expert in this field, Paul has helped over one million people find career satisfaction and success. On any given day, Do What You Are is the most or second most popular career book on Amazon.com. Paul is also the creator of PersonalityType.com and the PersonalityType.com Assessment, a quick and accurate instrument which has been validated by over fifty thousand online users.

Until recently, career professionals believed a satisfying career was one that matched a person’s values, interests and skills with the job. While this sounds good, there’s one problem: it just doesn’t work for most people. For two reasons: as it turns out, these “big three” – values, interests and skills – are not the most important factors, and they all change over time.

In the United States people are asked to make important career decisions way too early. In high school, students have to decide whether or not to go to college, and once in college, are required to declare a major by their sophomore year. Thus at twenty-years old, students routinely make important life decisions that set in motion a career trajectory that many find difficult to change. (This is not a knock on twenty-year olds! I’m just suggesting that most people don’t usually get a handle on who they are and what’s really important to them, until much later in life.)

So, the lucky ones graduate, land a job in “their field” and begin working. As they get married and have families, understandably the values they held at twenty are often replaced by new ones. And as they experience more of life, they also develop new interests and skills.

Before they know it, they’re in their forties with other mouths to feed, a mortgage and car payments to make with fresh worries about how to pay for their kids’ education and their retirement. And although studies show that less than half of all workers would choose the same job if they could have a “do over”, there are many good reasons why so many people stay right where they are: looking for a job can be a full-time job in itself, society applauds stability and disapproves of risk-taking, people grow accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and many just don’t see a lot of viable options – especially in a tight job market.

So, they stay in unfulfilling jobs and “run out the clock” looking forward to retirement. Unfortunately, due to the sharp economic downturn, it’s not unusual for people to continue working well into their sixties and seventies. The point is: most of us will have to work for a long time: we might as well enjoy it!

“So, if matching a job with my values, interests and skills will not lead me to a satisfying career, what will help me find work that uses my natural talents and really excites me?”

Enter personality type…

You may be surprised to learn that everyone is born with one of sixteen different Personality Types. And although all individuals are unique, people of the same “type” are remarkably similar in important ways – especially with regards to their “career satisfiers” – those elements in a job they need in order to find satisfaction and success.

Stay tuned for part two of this post. I find personality type to be so interesting. My personality type is ENFJ which stands for extravert, intuitive, feeling, judging. The description and “suggested careers” fit what I am doing perfectly. No wonder I love my job so much 🙂

What do you think about personality type and career?

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4 thoughts on “Knowing Your Personality Type Part 1: The Secret to Finding a Truly Satisfying Career

  1. I love this topic, Natalie! Many many years ago, I took one of those personality tests and was given a list of all the things that fit my personality and skills. One career jumped out and called my name: Talent Agent. Yes! Finally I knew what I wanted to do. Having a background in things like banking and government up to that point (but a love of the arts), it took me quite a few months and a stroke of luck to finally get my foot in the door, but I turned a one-day receptionist gig into a full-time job as Executive Assistant to a very well-known “Super Agent”.

    He took me to the Friar’s Club and I got to see Arrowsmith perform at a major star’s birthday party. And I met a ton of celebs. And I soon learned I HATED IT! I wanted to help all the people who agents wouldn’t take on and I had no interest in all the schmoozing and glamor. Plus, the major star we spent most of our time on went against my values. So much for that test.

    Hopefully tests have gotten better since then. 😉 And I note that besides values, personality types too can change somewhat as the years go on. Mine has, at least slightly enough to push me over the line on one of the factors.

    But I still think along with having a good understanding of who we are and what our values are now, this is a very useful tool. I look forward to reading the second part of your post.

    Ronnie Ann

  2. Natalie! I love this post! I find this topic incredibly fascinating, and I’ve studied these 16 types so much, and I actually thought that was your type before you wrote this on this post! Oprah has the same type! They’re givers, just like you! Im an INFJ.

  3. @Ronnie Ann: Thanks for sharing your story! Perhaps it’s time to take the test again at personalitytype.com?

    @Nikola: I agree, it’s a very interesting topic and I’m so glad to have Paul Tieger writing these guest posts on personality type for She Takes On The WOrld. I didn’t know Oprah and I shared a personality type! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. I am 20 years old, and I chose my career path at age 17. I am an INTJ (the rarest of all the personality types) and the description describes me to the T. Surprisingly enough my career is listed under my personality! Guess I made a good choice and I’m very satisfied.

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