Does Your Job Suit Your Personality?
Dave hardly speaks at dinner. Instead, he looks down and fiddles with his napkin as if being judged on its perfect placement. When directly asked questions, he answers shyly, politely, making sure not to leave anything open ended.
“What do you do for a living?” I ask.
He gazes down again, obviously uncomfortable. “I’m a teacher,” he responds.
I nod. “A teacher? Oh, really?”
Some people’s personalities just do not match up with their careers of choice. How did they wind up in their job? How do they make it work? What exactly happens when someone is in a job that does not suit their personality?
Many workers fall into three categories:
- Those whose personalities match well with their chosen profession.
- Those who adapt their job to their personalities- for better or worse.
- Those whose personalities become squelched by their job and are basically miserable.
Research shows that if a job does not match with an employee personality, it leads to lower engagement. “Low employee engagement results in 21 percent lower productivity and about 45 percent higher turnover, and replacing employees is expensive (Top Resume).
Wouldn’t it be great if all job descriptions came with personality type indicators? We are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator based on Carl Jung’s work. Is someone generally extraverted (E) or Introverted (I)? Does a person perceive information in a Sensing (S) way where information comes directly from the external world or an Intuition (N) way where information is received from the imaginative world? Is a person a Thinking (T) person making decisions through Logic, or a Feeling (F) person making decisions on emotion? Finally, is a person more Judging (J), where they organize events and stick to plans or Perceiving (P), someone who is inclined to explore alternative options?
Whether or not you take stock in these categories, it is interesting to think about how personality traits match up with professions.
A teaching position, for example, might require more of an ESTP–extroverted, sensing, thinking, perceiving personality. An accounting position may require more of an introvert, sensing, thinking, judging (ISTJ) personality. These are generalizations, of course.
If Your Personality Matches Well with Your Profession
These are the people who seem to be the most content and happy at work. It is not a stretch for them to meet the demands of the position. I think of a salesman who is naturally extroverted and has that great combination of being intuitive and perceiving, open to travel and the ups and downs that go with sales. If this is you, excellent. You should stay where you are.
If You Adapt Your Job to Your Personality
I’ve come across people whose jobs do not suit their personalities and they naturally change or adapt the original job to fit their personality strengths. For example, a former coworker of mine had a job that required sitting and working at a computer all day. Being extremely extroverted, she became the one to do most of the calls and trained other members of the staff. She interacted with people as much as she could to make the job work with her personality.
If you are someone who adapts her job to her personality, beware that you are not adapting it too far beyond its original description. In making yourself happier, you may be letting others down or putting yourself at risk of being fired.
If Your Personality Does Not Match Up With Your Job
Let’s face it- people whose personalities just do not match with their job or original chosen profession are probably miserable at work. These are the people who have to make constant presentations when they’d rather be locked in their office alone. Or, the opposite- someone who has to sit at a desk all day alone when they thrive on being with other people. If this sounds like the position you are in and you cannot change your job in any way, the best advice is to find a better fit elsewhere.
Being in a job that does not suit your personality causes stress and unhappiness. There are too many opportunities out there for anyone to have to remain in this situation.
Visit Artemis Consultants’ job page to check out our current opportunities or speak with a member of our recruiting staff for advice.