Personality Type & Job Search

by Wulf, MS, CPCC, Barbara Tuesday, June 12, 2007
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All of us have a personality type, in fact, one of the sixteen possibilities according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The personality typing instrument was developed by the mother and daughter team of Katharine Myers and Isabel Myers-Briggs Personality over 50 years ago and is used around the world. As you find yourself job searching, you will probably find yourself excelling at some of the tasks and shrinking with others. Yes, the MBTI® would say that your “type” showing up.

Job searching for anyone can bring can elicit a range of emotions from anticipation, confidence, anxiety, hopelessness, and more. How you self manage the emotional rollercoaster of job searching and the task of finding employment varies on your personal circumstance, but your personality “type” is definitely a factor that impacts your job search success.

Our type is determined by the following combination of pairs of preferences:

EXTRAVERSION or INTROVERSION
SENSING or INTUITION
THINKING or FEELING
JUDGING or PERCEIVING

How does “type” affect your search? Depending on your preference, you will probably use an approach that feels most natural or comfortable. The approach often feels like the best way for you, but it’s not the only way. Often the challenge of job seeking requires us to step out of our comfort zone. That might require that you reach to the other side from time to time to use the less preferred way for you. Preferences are not about right and wrong, but knowing that we can flip the coin over and see what’s on the other side. What’s on the other side might serve us better.

Looking for work or being between jobs can be a period of down time, being at home, having less social contact than being with coworkers, and have more time of solitude. This time will probably appeal to a person with a preference for Introversion rather than Extraversion. Those with a preference for Introversion gain their energy from having time alone to reflect and be with their thoughts or feelings. On the other hand, those with a preference for Extraversion, generally find themselves more energized with the phone calling or networking meetings…a time to be with people. Yet, both of these preferences are called for in a job search, time to reflect alone and time to network with others.

When job searching, those with a preference for Intuition generally embrace the time to imagine or create the possibilities for a career redesign, career change, or consider entrepreneurship. Those who prefer Sensing will be drawn to job openings that exist and are in the newspaper, online, and heard of through word of mouth. Those who prefer Sensing obtain their information by seeing it and hearing about it. They trust their senses and can discern it as factual and real.

The way we make decisions is apparent with our preference for Thinking or Feeling. A job seeker’s decision to apply for a position, hire an outplacement specialist, take a part-time position, decide to make a career change…any of these decisions can be made, but the “how” to decide will be determined by the preference. The firm-minder thinker will use the skills of logic, analysis, and objectivity to make a decision. The Feeler is more subjective and interpersonally involved with the emotion and impact of the decision.

The next preference of Judging or Perceiving is how we deal with the world, schedule our day, live our life. The job seeker who prefers Judging (not to be confused with judgmental) would enjoy a planned scheduled day with a to-do list of tasks and goals. A typical day for a J personality might be to wake up, shower, attend a scheduled networking group, and make 5 cold calls by noon. A scheduled walk or an hour workout would be followed by calling to schedule an informational interview, follow up on leads from the networking meeting, and doing 3 hours of online research on the current job market. Being in control of the day with a system or method to job search and sticking to the plan fits the J personality.

People who prefer to use the Perceiving process to conduct their day tend to remain flexible and spontaneous. They prefer to stay open to new information and avoid being tied down to a rigid schedule that requires time management. Perhaps the P personality intended to make cold colds in the morning, but a call from a friend for golf at 9:00 a.m. becomes more of a priority. Though unplanned, the golf outing feels beneficial and the Perceiver will get down to business in the afternoon. Much to the P’s delight, he learns of a job opening while out on the golf course with an approaching deadline. He returns home to prepare his cover letter and plans to hand deliver his application before the office closes. He makes the deadline and finds himself energized by last-minute pressure.

Next time you find yourself job searching, you will find you have a preference or comfort level to do certain tasks much like the preference of using your right hand or left hand. All of us are able to use the other hand, if we have to, though it can feel awkward. With more practice, it becomes more comfortable. Likewise, there is personal growth in using the less dominant part of our personality to yield the success we want.

© 2007 Barbara Wulf MS, GCDF, CPCC