Using Myers-Briggs to Help Understand Your Best Career Path
Note: I’ve been getting a lot of “flattering comments” lately, but I haven’t been publishing them because the URLs in the comments link to spam sites trying to sell things. I wanted to bring this up to you, especially if you have a blog or site of your own, because the new strategy is to write well-written flattery (ex: “your site design is amazing”, “your writing is awesome! I want to subscribe to your RSS feed”, and “I’ll recommend your site to my friends”), then hide the spam URL in the URL field. If you moderate your comments, double-check the URL before publishing the comment, but make sure you’re not at work when you do this, because some of the spam is – shall I say – NSFW.
If you’re getting ready to choose a career, or you’re getting ready to switch careers, this is for you.
People make mistakes when choosing their career. Often, they go into careers for the wrong reasons, such as it pays well, or it’s a “prestigious” career that’ll make the family proud (I touched upon this in my article You Better Lover Working in IT or Else), or “it’s something to pay the bills”. One of the best ways to avoid making a mistake with choosing a career is understanding your personality. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is a tool to help gauge your personality so you make make an informed decision about your career.
In a nutshell, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test gives you a view of what makes you tick. By understanding that, you know the types of things that make you say “wow!”, and the type of things that make you say, “why am I doing this?”. If you answer the questions honestly, you can get an accurate assessment of your personality, and you can make good career and activity choices while making little to no mistakes. For more information about the personality types, check out this link: Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator
When I took the Myers-Briggs test, it was an eye-opening experience for me. It really gave me an understanding of why I was excited and engaged when I had the opportunity to perform certain things on the job, like presenting, mentoring, and talking to people, and why I would rather have my teeth drilled without anesthetic when I had to perform certain things on the job, like writing code or rota tasks.
I’d like to tell you about my career experience, and if I knew then what I knew now about my personality results, I would have taken a different path. On the positive side, at least I got an opportunity to learn from mistakes.
When I was in school, my goal was to be a psychiatrist. I was taking classes to prepare me for that line of work. At university, we were required to take a computer course. I did exceptionally well in it for two reasons. One, I took computer courses since I was in 6th grade, and two, I had a computer at home since I was in 6th grade, so I was already used to working on a computer. The instructor encouraged me to change my major to information management since I “showed a talent in computers”. The selling point that the instructor (and others, including family) have told me was that I could make a “good living without having to go to school for so long”. Rather than going with my instinct, I followed the advice of others and changed my major. I loved the analysis classes because we had projects where we needed to invent solutions to business problems, but I absolutely hated the programming classes. However, I stuck with it, thinking that it would just get better.
When I got my first job in IT as a tech support person, I hated the work. I still did a good job, but it was monotonous and to me, unfulfilling. My job consisted of answering the telephone, doing basic duties such as fixing data, performing the same day-to-day tasks, and collecting information and escalating to “level 2” (developers or systems analysts). I would come home miserable and wondering, “what the [bleep] was I thinking?”. I was seriously considering quitting the job and going back to school, but after 6 months at the company, I was given the opportunity to change jobs as a business analyst. I flourished! I was having a fantastic time learning how the business unit worked, visiting the plants to meet the people that made it happen, performing training sessions to different staff members, and coming up with solutions that helped solved the business units’ different problems. I really looked forward to going to work, and if I had to work overtime or do extensive traveling, I didn’t mind because I was really enjoying what I did. The only reason why I left the company was after 4 years, they did a restructuring, and I would have had to go back to tech support, which I absolutely detested.
You would think that I would have learned after that experience, but I didn’t. I decided to give software development a try. While I liked inventing new applications, I hated the day-to-day coding and having to sit at my desk all day looking at a screen to read code to research reported issues, and the long hours to do what I absolutely hated to do didn’t help. Yes, I was still really good at it, but that doesn’t mean that I liked doing it. However, when I was given opportunities on the job to lead teams, mentor people, conduct training, write training documentation, learn about business operations, and make suggestions to the company on using technical solutions to help with their business operations, I was very happy.
The penny somewhat dropped for me. I eventually learned what I liked to do, but I didn’t understand why I liked it. When I took the Myers-Briggs test, I understood why. I am an ENFP, and people with this personality type flourish in careers where they get to communicate with people, come up with new ideas, and learn and do new things. This is why I’m happy when I was consulting, teaching, managing people in a collaborative style, doing videos, presenting in front of a crowd and writing blog posts, and why I wonder what I did to be punished when I’m writing code, doing tech support work, or doing any job with tasks that don’t deviate from the list, like a cashier.
Now that I know what I like and understand why I like it, I now make career choices that fit more with my personality instead of going against my personality because it pays well or it’s “good for my resume”. It’s like the old saying – if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
If you want to give it a go with your personality test, go to Http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp, and answer the questions honestly.
Heads up – at the end of the test, it does try to “sell” you on some schools. You can ignore that part.