Role of Type in Career Mastery


The following is adapted from Charles R. Martin, Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types and Career Mastery (Telos Publications, 2001) *Used with permission.

What Is the Role of Personality Type in Career Mastery? Don't look in this book for lists of the best careers for each type-you won't find them. Using type to match one's self to a perfect career is one of the least powerful applications of type in career management. In fact, the evidence for giving type a great deal of weight in choosing a career is not compelling. Career practitioners who are also researchers have made clear the difficulties associated with using personality instruments to make career choice decisions (Lowman, 1991).

Using one's personality type preferences as the primary factor in choosing a specific career is not the path to happiness and success. Of course, one would not want to use only one measure of anything as a sole factor in making a career decision. But what I'm saying is that if I had only one factor to choose, it wouldn't be psychological type.

Instead, it would be what you want. What you desire. What you have a passion for. What you dream about. What you enjoy the most. What you care about. What you have a talent for. Those are the kinds of factors to pay attention to in choosing, developing, and managing a career.

Sure, there's evidence that different personality types choose some careers more often than others. This kind of research lends power to the idea that type has validity-that the model of type is related to things in the real world that can be seen and measured.

The data also shows that virtually every type can be found in every career and that the link between personality type and overall career satisfaction is weak at best. In short, a variety of personality styles can be successful and happy in the same career.

Regardless of what anyone will tell you, there isn't evidence that overall career satisfaction or performance is strongly linked to the degree of "fit" between one's type and one's career. One reason is that it's difficult to type any given work environment-so how can you define a match? Careers and people are far too complex to make simple one-to-one recommendations based on personality type, and the evidence suggests that very different personality types can find satisfaction and success in the same career.

There is emerging evidence suggesting that type might have some weight in predicting satisfaction with specific components or activities within a given career or job setting. Thus, once you've decided you are interested in the general activities of, say, marketing (or information technology or psychology), it makes sense to look at personality type as you consider some of the specifics of particular jobs you might take within that given career path (e.g., marketing research, marketing design, production management in marketing). In other words, consider the niche you may carve for yourself in a given career.

All of this, however, is a discussion of group data. And in this book, we must never forget for a moment that we are talking about you, the individual you.

Also, as many people know, type preferences don't tell you what your skills are. So choosing engineering because you have a preference for Thinking or choosing counseling because you have a preference for Feeling is a bad idea. There are great engineers with a preference for Feeling and great counselors with a preference for Thinking.

What, then, is the role of personality type in Career Mastery?

Start with what you want, start with who you are at a much more individual level than type could ever tell you, and then remember the following:

The basic principle in using type as a tool in Career Mastery is this:

Build on your strengths, wake up to your habits, and stretch to do things you may avoid.

Type can be most powerful when it gives you insight into how you might approach the different activities it takes to explore your options or to position yourself in any given career. In this role, type is a tool for self-empowerment and self-development and a tool to enhance personal effectiveness and personal leadership. The personality type career descriptions in this book suggest how individuals with the different type preferences might approach the different steps of Career Mastery-what they might do and what they might miss. The descriptions close with recommendations for stretching beyond habits that may be associated with those type preferences.

Think of the type descriptions in this book as keys to awareness and keys to help you unlock how your style serves you or how it may get in the way of your finding or creating the career path that you want.

Using personality type as a tool to master your career assumes you are able and willing to step outside of yourself to recognize, truly recognize, that in the pursuit of your purpose and in the pursuit of work effectiveness and in the pursuit of happiness, you have habits of behavior that serve you well and habits that may not serve you well.

Clarify what you want, do what you desire and what you enjoy, and go where you can use your natural talents. Use type as a way of understanding how best to get there and as a way of understanding how you might find, create, or carve out a niche that meets some of your environment-specific wants and needs. Use type as a way of gaining insight into where you might have blind spots that get in the way of your realizing your career dreams and goals.

In using personality type in this way, you may find you are beginning to identify with something that is more than the personality that represents your strengths or your blind spots. You may begin getting in touch with your true self, your essence.

Know where you are and where you are going. Type is one tool to help you get there. Getting there might also mean deepening your understanding of yourself or building competence or increasing your freedom to explore or building your own business.

Bottom line:

Use type to wake up to how to get what you want in a career, not which career to choose.

Read more:

The Five Basic Elements of Career Mastery

What Are My Areas of Work-Style Interest and Skill

Quick Guide to the 16 Personality Types and Career Mastery: Living with Purpose and Working Effectively

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