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How to Use Personality Tests to Determine Your Career Path

You’re taking charge of your success — professionally and personally. You’ve decided to go back to school. You want to change careers and, in doing so, improve your circumstances, challenge yourself, and do something different with your life. Or maybe you’re just getting started in setting career goals, and you’re not quite sure where to begin. Deciding on a career path to ensure the right fit for a life of professional satisfaction can be confusing and difficult.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, research taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates the typical American worker’s tenure with his or her current employer was 3.8 years in 1996 and had increased to 4.1 years in 2008, the latest available data. While some people simply change jobs, others look for a real change in careers, one that leads to professional success and lifelong achievements.

To determine a successful path that’s right for you, many career counselors suggest taking a personality test. The personality profile can help to match your natural attributes to a career that will be more enjoyable and a more comfortable fit, as well as one in which you can excel.

Take the Test

The use of personality testing dates back to 2200 BC, when Chinese officials gave oral examinations to civil servants. The modern personality test was created in 1917 with Woodworth’s Personal Data Sheet, a test developed to identify soldiers at psychological risk of shell shock in World War I. Numerous competing tests followed, the use of which moved from military to industry.

Research indicates the typical American worker's tenure was 3.8 years in 1996 and had increased to 4.1 years in 2008.

Now, personality tests are commonly used to help people identify aptitude for a particular career path. A personality test can help you understand more details about your personal strengths and individual traits in order to choose a career that might be a better fit than your current one.

Several sites offer a free personality test — visit this site to take the test and determine your particular personality type. Some of these websites even offer specific career suggestions for your personality type, as well as insights you can use to improve leadership and teambuilding skills and personal relationships.

Present-day personality tests are rooted in the psychological work of Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. He was one of the first to define the personality traits of introversion and extroversion, sensation, thinking, and feeling, published in Psychological Types., on which most current personality tests are based.

Your personality type is based on the combination of traits in 4 categories: interaction with the world, absorption of information, decision making, and organization.

By answering a series of questions, your personality type is based on the combination of traits in four categories:

  • Interaction with the world, where you are either an extrovert or an introvert
  • Absorption of information, where you are either a sensor or an intuitive
  • Decision making, where you are either a thinker or a feeler
  • Organization, where you are either a judger or a perceiver

Personality Attributes

Using these four categories, people fall into one of 16 personality types, indicated by four letters. Once you know your personality type, and understand the strengths of each trait, you can begin to connect with career choices that work for you. And while you may change careers, your personality type stays the same for your whole life, so understanding the traits that make up your personality is important to your success. The four categories are:

1. Introverts and Extroverts 

This describes our preferences when interacting with the world and the way we get our energy and stimulation. Generally, an extrovert is energized by people and enjoys a variety of tasks and a fast pace. They think out loud, talk nonstop, and interrupt conversations constantly. It is impossible for an extrovert to spend too much time in social situations. They are recharged by interacting with others.

Introverts, on the other hand, derive energy from within and like working alone at a deliberate pace on one thing at a time. They like to listen rather than talk and generally remain quiet in group settings. In order to recharge, introverts seek solitude.

2.  Sensors and Intuitive

According to the BLS employment trends projection, healthcare will be the fastest-growing industry between 2014 and 2024.

To absorb information, sensors are well-grounded and use common sense to resolve a situation. Sensors gather information through facts and specific details. They are literal creatures and need exacting information, not generalities, in order to take in a situation.

For iNtuitives, on the other hand, everything is relative. iNtuitives are always looking at the big picture and searching for innovations in problem-solving. They find details a source of irritation and prefer generalities.

3. Thinker or Feeler

When it comes to decision-making, thinkers use logic, weighing the pros and cons to make decisions. They are usually detached and analytical, preferring to do the right thing rather than make someone happy.

Feelers, on the other hand, tend to make decisions based on what will create harmony. They avoid conflict, are empathetic, and always consider the impact their decision will have on others.

4. Judger or Perceiver

When it comes to organization, judgers are planners and rule-followers. They need schedules and lists to follow, and are at a loss when things go awry and plans fall through. They abhor spontaneity. Judgers are decision-makers.

Perceivers, on the other hand, love to be spontaneous and flexible. They are creative and think of rules as general guidelines rather than absolutes. Perceivers tend to enjoy the information-gathering process rather than making a final decision.

Finding Jobs Based on Personality Tests

So now you have your results and you wonder which career might be right for you? Your personality test results can make it easier to decide on careers based on personality attributes.

ESFJ Careers

If you’re an ESFJ (extrovert, sensor, feeler, judger), you are a gregarious, devoted person, interested in serving others and doing the right thing. Healthcare worker is one of the top career fields for you, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment trends projections, will be the fastest-growing industry between 2014 and 2024.

At Vista College, you can learn how to put your innate people-person skills to good use in our Allied Health Care programs. We will prepare you for a successful career as a Medical Lab Technician, Patient Care Technician, or Vocational or Practical Nurse, among other programs.

ISTP Careers

If you’re an ISTP (introvert, sensor, thinker, perceiver), you’re an explorer. Curious about everything, you are interested in the way things work, logical and practical, and have strong practical skills. You thrive in an environment demanding your technical skills to complete action-oriented tasks.

With your mechanical skills and innate curiosity, you like to build things that will solve problems and will excel in the trade industry. Vista College’s Construction Technology Diploma Program, Construction Management Associate Degree, HVAC Training, and Electrical Technician are excellent choices for you.

INFP Careers

As an INFP (introvert, intuitive, feeler, perceiver), you like balance and harmony and strive to prevent conflict. Your diplomatic skills, ability to communicate, and tendency to be guided by your principles make you an excellent mediator. You have a gift for language.

With your intellectual capacity and inclination to focus on the best in people, Vista College’s Business Management Human Resources Associate of Applied Science will provide career options that suit your ability to instill calm and provide opportunities for professional success.

ENTJ Careers

If you’re an ENTJ (extrovert, intuitive, thinker, judger), you’re a natural-born leader, goal-oriented, and filled with drive. You believe anything is possible.

At Vista College, the curriculum in our Business Administration Diploma, Business Management Associate of Applied Science, and Business Management Accounting Associate of Applied Science programs will build on these outstanding leadership characteristics and help to set you up for success.

ISFP Careers

If your test results show you are an ISFP (introvert, sensor, feeler, perceiver), you are sensitive, thoughtful, and enjoy helping others. You’re spontaneous and care deeply about connections with those around you. You are unpredictable and artistic, and enjoy balance and harmony.

As an ISFP, you’ll potentially thrive in careers that expand upon these caring traits. Pursuing the profession of a massage therapist might be a fulfilling career choice.

ENFJ Careers

As an ENFJ (extrovert, intuitive, feeler, judger), you are a strong, charismatic leader, standing up for what you believe in and easily motivating others. You care deeply about other people, sometimes to a fault. You have excellent interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate with your colleagues.

A “big picture” thinker, you are able to juggle responsibilities and are an excellent multi-tasker. Your entrepreneurial bend makes you an excellent candidate for an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management.

INFJ Careers

INFJs (introvert, intuitive, feeler, judger) are diplomats, do-gooders, and idealistic dreamers, but the “judger” component means they are doers, not simply dreamers with their heads in the clouds. With the penchant to care for others and a knack for creativity, this personality type does well in many different organizations, including healthcare. INFJs are thought to be the rarest personality type, but those who possess these traits leave their mark on the world.

For a satisfying career helping others, both ENFJs and INFJs can put their skills to work by entering one of our Allied Health programs such as the Veterinary Technology program. If you long to enter the business world or dream of starting your own business, a Business Administration certificate might be right for you.

ISFJ Careers

An ISFJ (introvert, sensor, feeler, judger) you have excellent analytical skills, are meticulous in your attention to detail, and are a wonderful people person. Warm and thoughtful, you are at your best when you are helping others. With your tendencies to want to help people, our Dental Assistant Diploma and Dental Assistant Associate of Applied Science programs might provide satisfying professional opportunities.

ISTJ Careers

As an ISTJ (introvert, sensor, thinker, judger), you like rules, tradition, and order in your life. You are analytical and practical, guided by logic in your decision-making. Your understanding of detail, efficiency, and planning skills make our Business Management Accounting Associate of Applied Science programs ideal to prepare you for a career that provides personal and professional growth. You are also likely to excel in the information technology industry and should explore our Information Technology Diploma and Information Technology Associate of Applied Science.

Who Am I?

If the personality test isn’t for you, you can still use your personality traits to make the career choice that is right for you. Do you talk to everyone you meet? Are you the life of the party? Do you require outside stimulation to get your energy? If so, you’re an extrovert. Extroverts tend to do well in fast-paced careers that deal directly with people, such as human resources. The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources just might be for you.

Introverts derive their energy from within, preferring to work slowly and deliberately alone or in small groups. If you are an introvert, you likely enjoy solitude and want to focus on one task at a time. The Associate of Applied Science in Business Management Accounting will provide opportunities for careers in bookkeeping, accounts receivable, billing, or payroll clerk, just to name a few.

Confusion Over the Best Careers for Personality Types

Don’t be concerned if you don’t fall squarely into the category of extrovert or introvert. Most people don’t. In fact, some research suggests two-thirds of all people are “ambiverts,” someone with the characteristics of both an introvert and an extrovert. The term, while unfamiliar to many, has been around since 1927 when it was coined by social psychologist Kimball Young in Source Book for Social Psychology.

Some research suggests two-thirds of all people are "ambiverts," someone with the characteristics of both an introvert and an extrovert.

Perhaps you generally tend to be introverted but still enjoy attending events with crowds of people. Maybe your tendencies lean toward being an extrovert, but you after a long period of time constantly in the company of others, you need to pull back and find solitude. You are flexible and adaptable — qualities that are coveted in today’s competitive global workforce. Having both qualities in your personality means more opportunities to find a good fit when it comes to choosing a career.

While one might think an extrovert is the most successful in business, a study by Wharton School of Business professor Adam Grant suggest ambiverts might actually be the most successful out of the three personality types when working in sales.

Steps to Finding Professional Success

You’re ready to make a change for the better. You want to make the switch to a career where you can be successful using your innate skills and personality to move ahead in your chosen industry. When it comes to choosing a new career or getting on the path to your first professional career, personality tests can be an effective tool to guide you in the right direction.

Regardless of whether you take the test to determine your personality type or simply recognize traits that fit your personality, the insight and information will help guide you through the process to discover a satisfying and rewarding professional career. Additionally, you will gain an understanding of your own communication and relationship-building styles. This type of information about your personality type and preferences can be useful in both your personal and the professional life.

Personality tests, which provide your 4-letter personality type, will help you to identify occupations and career choices in which you will find yourself most productive, content, and successful. The result will help you to explore and understand your strengths and weaknesses and ultimately choose the career path and education that meets your needs and is right for you. So let’s get started in planning your future.

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