Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

How Is the MBTI Used in Career Planning?

Women with questions
Have questions about your career? The MBTI can help you find answers. Lisa-Blue / E+ / Getty Images

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which often goes by its initials, MBTI, is a career assessment instrument. It is one of the tools career development professionals can use to learn about their clients' personality types and is a component of a complete self assessment. When used along with tools that assess interests, aptitudes, and work-related values, it can help clients choose the right career.

The MBTI was developed by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, based on Carl Jung's theory of personality type.

Jung's Personality Types

Carl Jung believed an individual's personality was made up of his or her preferences, or the way he or she chooses to do certain things. He theorized that there were four pairs of opposite preferences. They indicate how an individual:

  • Energizes (Extroversion v. Introversion),
  • Perceives information (Sensing v. INtuition),
  • Makes decisions (Thinking v. Feeling) and
  • Lives his life (Judging v. Perceiving).

Jung assigned a code to his personality types. It is composed of the four letters that refer to each preference (note the letters in bold above). There are 16 different personality types in all. The interaction between the four preferences is what makes each type unique and makes you who you are.

  • ISTJ: ISTJs are independent, responsible, and focused.
  • ISFJ: ISFJs' positive qualities are optimism and love of adventure, but they can also be a bit disorganized and impulsive.
  • INFJ: Compassion and creativity are hallmarks of the INFJ personality type.
  • INTJ: A preference for innovation causes INTJs to continually want to improve themselves and others. They are independent.
  • ISTP: ISTPs like sitting back and observing from afar. They tend to be quiet and enjoy taking risks.
  • ISFP: Preferring to stay on the sidelines, ISFPs are quiet and easygoing. They like taking life day-by-day.
  • INFP: INFPs have easygoing demeanors unless they sense someone is violating one of their core values. They are very private and share their thoughts with few people. 
  • INTP: INTPs are independent but not self-focused. They strive to understand the world around them.
  • ESTP: Energetic and eager to be around others, ESTPs are also full of confidence and can be quite assertive.
  • ESFP: ESFPs value their relationships. They are generous and love life.
  • ENFP: ENFPs are outgoing and enthusiastic. They sometimes have trouble staying focused.
  • ENTP: Innovative and resourceful, ENTPs love solving problems, no matter how challenging they are.
  • ESTJ: If you want an opinion on just about anything, ask an ESTJ. They are excellent decision makers who love having responsibilities.  
  • ESFJ: ESFJs prefer to connect with others. They are rule followers and want everyone to be, as well.
  • ENFJ: Their concern for the well-being of others and strong communication skills, make them excellent leaders.
  • ENTJ: ENTJs know how to get things done and are great at getting other people to follow along. They are very energetic.

    Being one type, rather than another, does not bring with it any special status. It is not better to be an ISTJ instead of an ESTJ, for example. An ESTJ may function better in certain environments than an ISTJ would, while the opposite would be true in others. Many career planning experts believe that when you know your personality type, as discovered through using this or another personality inventory, you can make better decisions about your career. For instance, this information can help you choose an occupation or figure out whether a particular job will be a good fit for you.

    Using the MBTI

    Because it is a psychological assessment, only a qualified career development professional, psychologist, or another mental health professional can administer the MBTI instrument. Make sure the person you hire to do this is "MBTI Certified." The MBTI is also available online, for a fee, from the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT), which was co-founded by Isabel Briggs Myers.

    This mode of administration also includes a one-hour feedback session.

    The professional who administers the MBTI and provides your results will give you a report that includes your four-letter code and a definition of all 16 codes. If you are using this instrument to help you with career planning, be aware that while all four letters are important to know, the middle two (indicating how you perceive information and make decisions) are the most significant when it comes to career choice. You may also receive a career report that includes a list of occupations that are most popular for those with your personality type, as well as those that are least favored.

    Sources:
    The Myers-Briggs Foundation Web Site.
    Baron, Renee. What Type Am I?. NY: Penguin Books
    Zunker, Vernon G. and Norris, Debra S. Using Assessment Results for Career Development. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company