Keeping yourself motivated and engaged when you’re out of work and looking for a job isn’t easy. Your friends and family are likely happy to offer you advice, but what works for them may not work for you. We’re all different, with different motivators and different stress triggers.
However, your personality type can give you a useful barometer for understanding how you are likely to react when job searching and the activities that might keep you motivated or even contribute to your job search.
The framework used by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment looks at four aspects of personality: whether we are energized by and prefer to focus our attention on our external environments (extraversion, E) or our internal worlds (introversion, I); whether we take more notice of information that is solid, practical, and based on the evidence of our senses (sensing, S) or instead on the big picture, possibilities, and ideas (intuition, N); whether we prefer to make decisions on the basis of objective logic (thinking, T) or based on how people will be affected and how this relates to our values (feeling, F); and whether we prefer to live in an organized, structured, planned way (judging, J) or in a more spontaneous, emergent way (perceiving, P).
We each have a preference for E or for I, for S or for N, for T or for F, and for J or for P, giving way to 16 different possible personality types. For example, someone with personality preferences for introversion, sensing, thinking, and judging will have an overall type preference of ISTJ.
Each type has different motivators that can help keep them energized when looking for a new job:
- ISTJ and ISFJ—These two types enjoy being organized and rely on a rich store of memories and past experiences to help them make sense of the world. To keep engaged while looking for a job, it’s important for them to maintain a daily and weekly routine, and to include job search and developmental activities as part of this. The latter should have clear goals and build on their existing knowledge and past experiences rather than focus on something novel.
- INTJ and INFJ—Things need to make sense if an INTJ or INFJ is to keep motivated. These two types need to develop a coherent inner vision to guide their direction. The challenge is to focus their active imagination on the job search rather than becoming distracted by interesting but not necessarily productive ideas. Having a clear, achievable but stretch goal will help.
- ISTP and INTP—Those with personality preferences for ISTP or INTP can struggle to keep motivated, especially with activities that they don’t really want to do – which may include job searching. However, when a deadline looms, they can suddenly spring into action. ISTP and INTP individuals should allow plenty of time for interesting activities outside of the job search, combined with realistic, almost last-minute deadlines for job applications. Setting alarms may be useful.
- ISFP and INFP—For these two types, living according to their values is important. Job search isn’t just about finding the right job; it’s also about finding an organization that fits with their values. A good motivator for ISFP and INFP individuals while looking for a job would be to find out more about the culture and ethos of the organizations they are applying to. This should help them decide whether that organization is right for them while also helping them create more targeted, powerful job applications.
- ESTP and ESFP—These two types live in the moment and crave excitement; they may find it difficult to stay engaged during a prolonged job search process. To move forward, they should keep their senses stimulated and remain physically active between more concentrated job search activities; spending all day sitting at a computer will only result in demotivation and disengagement.
- ENTP and ENFP—For those with ENTP or ENFP preferences, boredom can be an issue and the routine of sending off job applications can feel constraining and demoralizing. Those two types are stimulated by new ideas and possibilities, and especially by discussing these with other people. So they may find it useful to sit down with friends or like-minded people and brainstorm ideas for new jobs or different ways to approach employers. This will keep them engaged and may well produce useful job search ideas.
- ESTJ and ENTJ—ESTJs and ENTJs are action-orientated. They want to get things done and achieve their goals, and they can be quite competitive. Approaching job searching as a competition may be very appealing to them. However, if they do not succeed fairly quickly, and remain unemployed for some time, this can be demotivating. Having other areas of their lives where they can succeed and win will help keep them focused and aid their job search.
- ESFJ and ENFJ—These two types are typically focused on people; they want to make things better for their loved ones and the wider world. Having the support of other people whom they can talk to will help keep them engaged during the job search process. Choosing people who will not only act as a sounding board, but who can also suggest new ideas or alternative job possibilities, will help them grow.
Understanding how your personality preferences affect a search for new professional opportunities will provide a framework for success—both for yourself and others in the job market.