Myers Briggs & the Job Search

Anyone who has been forced to search for a new job knows that it is no fun. When you’ve been laid off, the process can be even more excruciating. There are tons of blogs, books, and experts out there with valuable tips for making your job search more successful. We can each take those tips and incorporate them into our job search process, but occasionally the real issue is how our personality affects our approach.

What is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator?

In personality type theory, it is clear that we all have natural preferences that affect how we communicate with others, organize our lives, and make decisions. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is the world’s most popular assessment for assessing personality type. According to the MBTI, we have natural preferences towards one direction in each of the following categories:

  • How we interact with the outside world: Extraversion vs. Introversion
  • How we take in information: Sensing vs. iNtuition
  • How we make decisions: Thinking vs. Feeling
  • How we structure our world: Judging vs. Perceiving

Extroversion vs. Introversion

In every step of the job search process, out natural preferences become evident.  Individuals who prefer Extraversion may enjoy attending networking events and take advantage of vast social networks to find job opportunities, whereas introverts may rely more on non-social connections like job boards or classifieds.  In addition, the Introversion/Extraversion preference significantly plays a role in the interview process. Someone with extraversion preferences tend communicate freely and openly which can be a very positive interviewing skills, however the tendency to think as they speak can result in a Why did I say that? moment while answering tricky interview questions. Conversely, an introvert will likely take a few seconds to gather his/her thoughts before beginning an answer which can lead to a more concise and strategic response. However, that pause and tendency to use few words can also make an interviewer incorrectly question communication skills, unfortunately.

Sensing vs. Intuition

The Sensing and intuition preferences play a major role in both how you read a job description as well as what information you attend to in the interview. For instance, someone with a sensing preference will key in on specifics like the hourly schedule, benefits, pay, job title, commute time, etc, whereas someone with an iNtuitive preference will focus more on the intangibles like career growth, job satisfaction, learning opportunities, etc.

Thinking vs. Feeling

The Thinking vs. Feeling preference will play out in both the kind of role one pursues as well as the final decision to take a job. Someone with a Feeling preference will be more likely to pursue a job that is fulfilling on a personal level and/or provides service to others. In addition, someone with a Feeling preference will also be more likely to take the feelings and opinions of their family/friends into strong consideration than people with a Thinking preference.

Judging vs. Perceiving

Finally, the Judging/Perceiving preference influences how quickly we work to find job opportunities, respond to interview requests, and accept the offer itself. It also plays a major role in how organized we are in the job search process. Someone with a Judging preference probably keeps detailed notes on which jobs they have applied for, who they’ve spoken with at each company, and what to expect next. Someone with a Perceiving preference will be more œgo with the flow in terms of the process.
Knowing your MBTI preferences is helpful for understanding WHY we do what we do. However, that is only a tiny part of the value of the MBTI. The real value comes with understanding how and when it is more constructive to flex outside of our preferences.

If you are an introvert and have not yet had success with relying on non-social networks, it may be time to flex to behaviors that suit an extravert. You will need to exert extra energy and effort, but the payoff may be exponential. I highly suggest finding someone with opposite preferences as you and modeling their job search techniques just to illuminate your blindspots.
We must all work outside of our natural preferences/comfort zone at times. When it comes to searching for a new job, we often have to do things that we wouldn’t naturally do. The key is determining when we should flex to achieve better results.

***For more information on what each of these preferences mean, go to http://myersbriggs.org, and to take the assessment yourself go to http://mbticomplete.com.

Breanne Potter has her Master’s degree in Psychology and is an Organizational Development Consultant that regularly utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Strong Interest Inventory, FIRO-B, TKI, and CPI. She also writes The MBTI Blog.  She can be found at http://twitter.com/phdbre and http://www.linkedin.com/in/breannepotter. If you have follow-up questions, please email breannepotter@gmail.com.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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