How to Find a Career That Suits Your Personality

Knowing Who You Are Can Help You Make a Better Decision

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Are you trying to decide what career to pursue? Then you should find out what your personality type is. Certain occupations are more suitable for particular types than others are. However, personality should not be the only factor you consider when choosing a career. A self assessment should also look at your values, interests, and aptitudes. These four factors taken together serve as a better way to find the right career than any one of them does alone.

Career Personality Tests

The best way to learn about your personality is through the use of "career personality tests." It is important to note that these are only tests by the loosest definition of that term. We can more accurately call them personality instruments or inventories. Many publishers only allow certified professionals to use them. A career development professional, such as a career counselor, can administer a personality instrument and help you utilize what you learn from it. This information taken together with what you learn from the other parts of your self assessment can help you choose a career.

The career development professional will choose from among several personality inventories. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular. Other personality instruments include the Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16 PF), Edwards Personal Preference Schedule (EPPS), and NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R).

All are based on psychological theories of personality. The Myers-Briggs, for example, is based on Carl Jung's theory of personality types.

Most personality inventories consist of a series of questions that you answer by filling in circles on a scan sheet or selecting responses on a computer or other device.

Your practitioner may have you complete it in his or her office or at home. It must be stressed that while personality inventories are often called "career personality tests," there are no right or wrong answers as there would be on an exam. Remember that no personality type is better than any other, so it is important to be completely honest when answering the questions.

Getting Your Results

After you complete the inventory, you will return it to the practitioner to score. He or she will either send it back to the publisher for scoring or will do it him or herself. Once that is complete, the career development professional or the publisher will generate a report that the practitioner may discuss with you at this time. He or she may choose to wait until all other assessments are finished since, as mentioned previously, the personality inventory is just one of several assessment tools.

Your report will tell you what your personality type is. It will probably also explain how this conclusion was drawn based on your answers. Also included in your report will be a list of occupations that are suitable for those who share your personality type. Does this mean that all of these occupations are right for you?

Absolutely not. Some will be a good fit, while others won't be, based on characteristics other than your personality, such as the aforementioned values, interests, and abilities.

The level of training you are willing to undertake to prepare for a career will also affect your choice. You may not want to earn a Ph.D. for example. Other things that could rule out a particular occupation are a weak employment outlook or a salary that is too low for you to live on. When you finish your self assessment, you will move on to the exploration stage of the career planning process. During this stage, you will research occupations and eventually choose your best option based on what you learn.

Online Personality Inventories

You will find some personality inventories offered online, sometimes for free and other times for a fee. There is, for example, a version of the Myers-Briggs offered online, for a fee, by the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT). It comes with one hour of professional feedback. Since Isabel Myers Briggs, one of the MBTI's developers, co-founded CAPT, we can be fairly sure the online version is as accurate as one administered locally.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about all online self assessment tools. Some may not be as accurate as those a career development professional would use and will often not be accompanied by adequate feedback. However, you can still benefit from using them, particularly if you can't, or choose not to, hire a professional. Use common sense when looking at your results and always thoroughly research any occupations that the results of self assessments indicate could be "right for you." That is true whether you are working with a professional or using an online tool.

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