First let me say I am a huge fan of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) for understanding personality types and working styles. I absolutely abhor using it or any other assessment to provide clients with a list of job titles to sort through. Junior High and High Schools that are using MBTI or similar types of tools are completely discouraging and disabling the younger generation.
Career counselors that use this are sometimes providing tens or hundreds of job titles based on a personality test. Many of the times the career counselor doesn’t even know what half of the job titles mean – how could they, there are so many!
What is MBTI?
“The MBTI is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” (Wikipedia) It was developed by Carl Jung a Swiss psychologist/psychoanalyst. The tool is extremely helpful in understanding, generically, how individuals operate and how they might approach various scenarios. Essentially it is measuring psychological preferences
An Example of the Problem
Recently a client came in for her first session, she is a bright, young, keen 17-year-old woman who has an extremely bubbly personality. She was provided with a similar MBTI type test earlier this year and when the results came back she had two options for career titles that she could choose from – house cleaner and administrator.
I asked her how she felt about these options and her response was so kind, she said, “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings because those are important jobs and I know lots of people are proud to have them, but I thought I was smarter than that.” I agree with her. Those jobs are so important, often overlooked, and often underpaid. And in her innocent response she wasn’t calling those people unintelligent, what she was saying was “isn’t there more for me to consider?”
Whether this young woman ends up being a cleaner or administrator or not is completely up to her but what a complete disservice to the process of career discovery. How frustrating and limiting. This young woman is most likely going to end up a scientist, doctor, engineer, or entrepreneur; she has the make-up for it!
What is the Problem with Using MBTI or Similar Tests for Career Discovery?
The problem with this is that job titles are so limiting. Yes, it is our system of things and we must work within it; however, job titles are completely misleading. For example, you cannot find one clear definition of what an Administrator does. It depends on the organization and industry and who they report to. In corporate it’s usually a support role; however, in health care or education it’s usually a more senior managerial or public representative role. This is true of most job titles. Just think about it:
What does an accountant do?
What does a doctor do?
What does a business analyst do?
What does a project manager do?
Sure you can come up with a generic description of what they do but depending on the level, industry, organization, leader, etc. it doesn’t get to the root of the opportunity the client has to be able to explore a good job fit.
Did you know that there is a Job Title Registry for North America and there are over 40,000 registered job titles listed in this job bank? And many job titles are not listed or registered in the job bank! We are in a world where you cannot use psychometric testing to assign job titles any longer. It doesn’t work. Period!
Recently I looked at my MBTI results and I came up with over 100 titles that fit my personality type, many of which I had done and hated and some of which I couldn’t even figure out what they did. The other interesting thing is that I could not find Career Coach, Life Coach, Writer, or Entrepreneur in the list of titles – all things I do now for my career, and I LOVE my job!
Quite frankly, I find it to be completely irresponsible for school administrators and traditional career counselors to use this tool for job discovery. I think it is a wonderful tool to be used to help you work with and understand your client better. It can be used to learn about your client and to ask poignant questions that are applicable and consistent with the clients working style to ensure a job direction may be a fit… But to assign job titles! Bad idea!
Why is using MBTI for Job Discovery a Bad Idea and Irresponsible?
Many of my clients have come to me after working with a traditional career counselor and brought in a list of over 50 or 100 (or more in some cases) job titles for them to filter through. Even if they could start to narrow it down, it doesn’t get to root of the opportunity. It’s too generic and too much to choose from. The three things that must be considered when you are considering career discovery have NOTHING to do with the job title! You must consider:
- What are the tasks you do in the job day to day and do they give you strength or make you feel week? The job is not what the title is; the job is made up of the tasks and projects you work on. You might be called a Business Analyst but that doesn’t mean your workplace utilizes you in the way the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has defined the role to look like. In fact, many Business Analysts are actually project controllers or glorified administrators. It’s still important work but the title can be misleading. So we must get down to the tasks!
- What is your values system? If you aren’t looking at how a job fits with your values system then you are missing a big part of making a role work for your life. You spend the best part of your day at work and the best part of your life. You better have a job that aligns to who and how you want to be in this world!
- Does the job meet your psychological human needs? I prefer to use the same ones that Tony Robbins The 6 Human Needs, which include certainty, variety, love and connection, significance, growth, and contribution.
While it is unlikely that your job will meet all of these things, the idea is that the job meets as many of these criteria as possible and where it can’t meet them you are able to easily pinpoint that dissatisfaction and find a solution for that either in the workplace, outside of the workplace or by changing jobs.
Yes, at some point job titles must be reintroduced because that is our system of things. We must be able to find a job in a practical sense but now you can start to find a job based on the job fit (the tasks themselves), your values and your human needs.
Christopher is the CEO and Founder of Change My Life Coaching — a fast growing whole-life coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job” [https://www.changemylifecoaching.ca/book/]. Christopher spent 10+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.