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  • Kristin Schuchman, Career Strategist

Why understanding what makes you tick helps you find the right career

You have likely have heard of the Myers Briggs personality test but don’t necessarily know its captivating history. When Katharine Cook Briggs met Clarence Myers, the man who would eventually marry her daughter Isabel, she was struck by what a starkly different world view he possessed. She began researching personality theories and happened upon Carl Jung’s book Psychological Types. Realizing how similar (yet more developed) his theories on personality were to her own, she and Isabel began creating a questionnaire to help people understand themselves. Enlisting the help of more experienced psychometricians, she created what we now refer to as the Myers Briggs assessment, a lifelong project the mother-daughter team continued to perfect.

Since its initial publication, researchers and psychologist have expanded the MBTI’s reach, translating the tool into thirty languages. Since personality types emphasize distinctions between how people interact with the world, make decisions, and interpret information, our temperaments and dispositions play a significant role in our career happiness.

Implemented by more than 10,000 companies, 2,500 colleges and 200 government agencies in the United States, the influence of the Myers Briggs is pervasive. Since the Educational Testing Service added the research to its portfolio in 1962, 50 million people have taken the Myers-Briggs personality test.

This quick test allows you to do a rough assessment of your personality type. Read each description and pick "a" or "b." After you have finished, refer to the Scoring section below to determine your personality type. ​

1. At a social gathering do you: a. Interact with many, including strangers

b. Interact with a few, known to you

2. Are you more: a. Realistic than speculative

b. Speculative than realistic

3. Is it worse to: a. Have your “head in the clouds”

b. Be“in a rut”

4. Are you more impressed by: a. Principles

b. Emotions

5. Are more drawn toward the: a. Convincing

b. Touching

6. Do you prefer to work: a. To deadlines b. Just “whenever”

7. Do you tend to choose: a. Carefully b. Impulsively

8. At parties do you: a. Stay late, with increasing energy

b. Leave early with decreased energy

9. Are you more attracted to: a. Sensible people b. Imaginative people

10. Are you more interested in: a. What is actual

b. What is possible

11. In judging others are you more swayed by: a. Laws than circumstances

b. Circumstances than laws

12. In approaching others is your inclination to be somewhat: a. Objective

b. Personal

13. Are you more: a. Punctual

b. Leisurely

14. Does it bother you more having things: a. Incomplete

b. Completed

15. In your social groups do you: a. Keep abreast of other’s happenings

b. Get behind on the news

16. At a party do you:

a. initiate conversation

b. wait to be approached

Myers Briggs Scoring

Go through your answers to each question and count the number of each corresponding letter (i.e., E, I, S, N, T, F, J, and P)

1a - E

1b - I

2a - S

2b - N

3a - S

3b - N

4a - T

4b - F

5a - T

5b - F

6a - J

6b - P

7a - J

7b - P

8a - E

8b - I

9a - S

9b - N

10a - S

10b - N

11a - T

11b - F

12a - T

12b - F

13a - J

13b - P

14a - J

14b - P

15a - E

15b - I

16a - E

16b - I

Once you have tracked the number of letters corresponding with each question, compare your answers to the dichotomies outlined below:

Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)

Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N)

Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)

Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

After you take the quiz, you will emerge as one of 16 personality types: INFJ, ESTP, etc. You can visit 16personalities.com to read more about your type. For instance, if you pick more options under Introverted, INtuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving, you are an INTP, which would make you, according to 16 Personalities, the “Logician,” who are likely to be “inventors with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge,” considered to be the “most logically precise of all the personality types.” You can also take an abbreviated version on the 16 Personalities website, as well as Truity.com.

Official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

For accurate results, it can be useful to work with a career counselor or coach to take the official Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is continuously researched and retooled for greater validity. Your best bet is to take the Myers Briggs from a certified MBTI trainer -- your results will be more accurate, revealing where you are on the continuum of each dichotomy (E vs. I, N vs. S, etc.), and you will benefit from discussing the results with a consultant versed in the subtleties of the foundational theories.

At its core, the professional study of psychological type is founded on the idea that understanding your type helps you appreciate your own strengths, gifts, and personal growth while enhancing your appreciation of how other people differ from you.

If you take the full Myers Briggs and receive the report or do research on the internet, you will see suggestions for career directions that are often congruent with your type. For example, if you are a strong T (thinking) and a strong J (Judging) you are drawn to work with a clear system working towards a concrete outcome. Careers such as Project Manager or Engineer may be recommended. The results may also provide clear hints as to which careers you might find challenging. For example, if you have a strong F (feeling) and P (Perceiving), a highly structured job such as Project Manager or Engineer may feel overly impersonal and constraining.

Understanding your personality can also offer insights on how your ideal career intersects with your personal life. Some people like their work and home lives to be completely separate while others are more comfortable with an intimate dance between the two. Deeply understanding your personality type can go a long way toward appreciating this work-life balancing act and communicating with your family about the needs that work feeds (or has the potential to feed).

Striking the right blend of personal and professional fulfillment starts with exploring your personality, but it shouldn’t stop there. Desmond Tutu wisely once said, “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” By deeply considering the complex interplay of your disposition, temperament and interests with your professional and personal relationships, you will make better choices and move down the path toward a rewarding career with more ease.

© 2018 Spark a Career, LLC

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