Chapter 4: Personality, Skills, and Interests

Every artist was first an amateur. —Ralph Waldo Emerson, author

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Understand personality preferences based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI).
  • Explore the qualities of personality types that you most identify with.
  • Research job titles that matches your preferred work styles.
  • List specific skills that will be necessary for your career path
  • List transferable skills that will be valuable for any career path
  • Identify your skills and interests according to Dr. John Holland’s Occupational Themes
  • Determine career paths that align with your occupational code
  • Explain how to acquire necessary skills, both in and out of class, for your career goals

Now that you have reviewed the concepts of goal setting and identified values most important to you, the next part of the career development process will help you to reflect on personal preferences. By doing this, you will understand the work environment that you will naturally find a greater fit in. The career development process is all about you. You are a unique individual with a distinct combination of personality traits, skills, and interests, skills. Self knowledge can help you in your career decision-making process to discover careers that are the best match for you.

Personality Type

Taking the time to ensure that your personality is compatible with your career choice is extremely important. If you do not invest the time now to figure out what makes you happy and keeps you motivated everyday, you could be very unhappy in the future. But why is personality so important? Learning about your personality allows you to think about your emotions, behaviors, and ways of thinking on a day to day basis. For example, do you prefer to work alone or do you prefer to work with others? Would you be content in a career that requires that you are extremely organized and have a set schedule? Or are you the type of person that likes to have an open, flexible schedule that allows you to be spontaneous? This information will assist you in deciding which career(s) match with your personality preferences.

To review personality preferences, one of the most common tools used to understand personality preferences is based on the personality theory from Myers and Briggs. Businesses use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) to find out more about the personalities of their potential employees (very commonly used by police departments), some universities use the MBTI to learn more about the personalities of potential graduate students considering psychology, counseling, and social work fields, and it commonly used in couples therapy (to help both individuals in a relationship understand each other and their behaviors better).

Watch the following video to get an introduction of four facets that comprise the 16 possible personality types.

Personality Theory: The 4 Facets

  • Extroversion-Introversion (EI): how you get your energy and where you prefer to focus your attention
  • Sensing-Intuition (SN): how you take in information about the world around you
  • Thinking-Feeling (TF): how you like to make decisions
  • Judging-Perceiving (JP): how you prefer to organize your life

Complete the following activity to identify your personality type based on your own self reflection. As part of the course requirement, you will also be taking the MBTI personality test through our career center. Please check the syllabus for instructions. You can complete the following quick activity to self identify your personality type. Then compare the results with the actual MBTI assessment to see how your results are similar and different.

Activity 4.1: What’s Your Type?

Read descriptions for the four facets. Pick which is more like you.

  • E (Extraversion) or I (Introversion)?
  • S (Sensing) or N? (Intuition)?
  • T (Thinking) or F? (Feeling)?
  • J (Judging) or P? (Perceiving)?
Could be described as:

  • Talkative, outgoing
  • Like to be in a fast-paced environment
  • Tend to work out ideas with other, think aloud
  • Enjoy being the center of attention

Then you prefer

             (E) Extraversion

Could be described as:

  • Reserved, private
  • Prefer a slower pace with time for contemplation
  • Tend to think things through inside your head
  • Would rather observe then be the center of attention

Then you prefer

             (I) Introversion

Could be described as:

  • Focus on the reality of how things are
  • Pay attention to concrete facts and details
  • Prefer ideas that have practical applications
  • Like to describe things in a specific, literal way

Then you prefer

    (S) Sensing

Could be described as:

  • Imagine the possibilities of how things could be
  • Notice the big picture, see how everything connects
  • Enjoy ideas and concepts for their own sake
  • Like to be describe in a way figurative, poetic

Then you prefer

             (N) Intuition

Could be described as:

  • Make decision in an impersonal way, using logical reasoning
  • Value justice, fairness
  • Enjoy finding the flaws in an arguments
  • Could be described as reasonable, level-headed

Then you prefer

              (T) Thinking

Could be described as:

  • Base you decision on personal values and how our actions affect others
  • Value harmony, forgiveness
  • Like to please others and point out the best in people
  • Could be described as warm empathetic

Then you prefer

             (F) Feeling

Could be described as:

  • Prefer to have matters settled
  • Think rules and deadlines should be respected
  • Prefer to have a detailed step-by-step instructions
  • Make plans, want to know what you’re getting into

Then you prefer

             (J) Judging

Could be described as:

  • Prefer to leave your options open
  • See rules and deadlines as flexible
  • Like to improvise and make things up as you go
  • Are spontaneous, enjoy surprise and new situations

Then you prefer

             (P)Perceiving

What is your 4-letter personality type? __ __ __ __

The following are brief descriptions of the 16 personality types from Humanmetrics. Click on your personality type or a similar type to see which describes you best.

The 16 personality types
ESTJ ISTJ ENTJ INTJ
ESTP ISTP ENTP INTP
ESFJ ISFJ ENFJ INFJ
ESFP ISFP ENFP INFP

 

Work Styles

O*NET OnLine provides an online tool that helps you to review your personal characteristics and how they can affect how well one performs a job. This tool is available via the Work Styles search function on O*NET OnLine. You can browse O*Net data by clicking on the quality that you think best represents you including achievement, innovation, and leadership to explore the different jobs that will require the specific characteristic.

Skills

In addition to personality, skills are also important to consider in the career development process. If you lived and worked in colonial times in the United States, what skills would you need to be gainfully employed? What kind of person would your employer want you to be? And how different would your skills and aptitudes be then, compared to today?

Many industries that developed during the 1600s–1700s, such as health care, publishing, manufacturing, construction, finance, and farming, are still with us today. And the professional abilities, aptitudes, and values required in those industries are many of the same ones employers seek today.

For example, in the health care field then, just like today, employers looked for professionals with scientific insight, active listening skills, a service orientation, oral comprehension abilities, and teamwork skills. And in the financial field then, just like today, employers looked for economics and accounting skills, mathematical reasoning skills, clerical and administrative skills, and deductive reasoning.

Why is it that with the passage of time and all the changes in the work world, some skills remain unchanged (or little changed)? The answer might lie in the fact there are are two main types of skills that employers look for: hard skills and soft skills.

Hard Skills & Soft Skills

  • Hard skills are concrete or objective abilities that you learn and perhaps have mastered. They are skills you can easily quantify, like using a computer, speaking a foreign language, or operating a machine. You might earn a certificate, a college degree, or other credentials that attest to your hard-skill competencies. Obviously, because of changes in technology, the hard skills required by industries today are vastly different from those required centuries ago.
  • Soft skills, on the other hand, are subjective skills that have changed very little over time. Such skills might pertain to the way you relate to people, or the way you think, or the ways in which you behave—for example, listening attentively, working well in groups, and speaking clearly. Soft skills are sometimes also called “transferable skills” because you can easily transfer them from job to job or profession to profession without much training.

What Employers Want in an Employee

Employers want individuals who have the necessary hard and soft skills to do the job well and adapt to changes in the workplace. Soft skills may be especially in demand today because employers are generally equipped to train new employees in a hard skill—by training them to use new computer software, for instance—but it’s much more difficult to teach an employee a soft skill such as developing rapport with coworkers or knowing how to manage conflict. An employer might rather hire an inexperienced worker who can pay close attention to details than an experienced worker who might cause problems on a work team.

In this section, you will look at ways of identifying and building particular hard and soft skills that will be necessary for your career path. You will also learn how to use your time and resources wisely to acquire critical skills for your career goals.

Transferable Skills for Any Career Path

Transferable (soft) skills may be used in multiple professions. They include, but are by no means limited to, skills listed below:

  • Dependable and punctual (showing up on time, ready to work, not being a liability)
  • Self-motivated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Committed
  • Willing to learn (lifelong learner)
  • Able to accept constructive criticism
  • A good problem solver
  • Strong in customer service skills
  • Adaptable (willing to change and take on new challenges)
  • A team player
  • Positive attitude
  • Strong communication skills
  • Good in essential work skills (following instructions, possessing critical thinking skills, knowing limits)
  • Ethical
  • Safety conscious
  • Honest
  • Strong in time management

For more extensive exploration, visit this checklist of transferable skills from Community Employment Services in Woodstock, Ontario.

These skills are transferable because they are positive attributes that are invaluable in practically any kind of work. They also do not require much training from an employer—you have them already and take them with you wherever you go. Soft skills are a big part of your “total me” package.

So, identify the soft skills that show you off the best, and identify the ones that prospective employers are looking for. By comparing both sets, you can more directly gear your job search to your strongest professional qualities.

ACTIVITY 4.2:  IDENTIFYING YOUR SKILLS

Objective:

  • To self identify your Top 5 transferable (soft) skills, skills you are good at, and those skills you wish to learn or develop further.

Instructions:

  1. Review the list of transferable skills list and additional checklist of transferable skills above to complete the chart below.
Top 5 Skills I Enjoy Using Top 5 Skills That Come Naturally
Top 5 Skills I Want to Learn
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5

10 Top Skills You Need to Get a Job When You Graduate

The following video summarizes the ten top skills that the Target corporation believes will get you a job when you graduate. You can read a transcript of the video here.

Assessing Your Skills and Interests

In this section you will continue to assess your skills and your interests in more depth. Most career assessment tests created to measure skills and interests are based on the career theory developed by Dr. John Holland.

The following video provides you with an introduction to the world of work and Holland’s Occupational Themes:

As mentioned in the video, Holland defined six categories of people based on personality, interests, and skills:

  1. Realistic: These people describe themselves as honest, loyal, and practical. They are doers more than thinkers. They have strong mechanical, motor, and athletic abilities; like the outdoors; and prefer working with machines, tools, plants, and animals.
  2. Investigative: These people love problem solving and analytical skills. They are intellectually stimulated and often mathematically or scientifically inclined; like to observe, learn, and evaluate; prefer working alone; and are reserved.
  3. Artistic: These people are the “free spirits.” They are creative, emotional, intuitive, and idealistic; have a flair for communicating ideas; dislike structure and prefer working independently; and like to sing, write, act, paint, and think creatively. They are similar to the investigative type but are interested in the artistic and aesthetic aspects of things more than the scientific.
  4. Social: These are “people” people. They are friendly and outgoing; love to help others, make a difference, or both; have strong verbal and personal skills and teaching abilities; and are less likely to engage in intellectual or physical activity.
  5. Enterprising: These people are confident, assertive risk takers. They are sociable; enjoy speaking and leadership; like to persuade rather than guide; like to use their influence; have strong interpersonal skills; and are status conscious.
  6. Conventional: These people are dependable, detail oriented, disciplined, precise, persistent, and practical; value order; and are good at clerical and numerical tasks. They work well with people and data, so they are good organizers, schedulers, and project managers.

 

ACTIVITY 4.3: What’s Your Occupational Type?

Objective:

  • To determine your occupational types and code

Instructions:

  1. Using the descriptions above, choose the three types that most closely describe you and list them in order in the following table. Most people are combinations of two or sometimes three types.
  2. Then list the specific words or attributes that you feel describe you best.
  3. After determining your primary, secondary, and tertiary occupational types, take the first initial for each type, in order, to establish your occupational code.
Occupational Type Words and Attributes That Closely Describe Me
Primary type (the one I identify with most closely)

 

Secondary type

 

Tertiary type

 

Note: Your occupational code is made up of the initials of the three personality types you selected, in order.

My occupational code:   ___  ___  ___

(For example: if Social, Enterprising, and Conventional are your top three occupational types, your occupational code would be:  S E C)

Woman sitting in front of windowExploring Careers and Your Occupational Type

Now that you have determined your top three occupational types, you can begin to explore the types of careers that may be best suited for you. Holland studied people who were successful and happy in many occupations and matched their occupations to their occupational type, creating a description of the types of occupations that are best suited to each personality type. Just as many individuals are more than one personality type, many jobs show a strong correlation to more than one occupational type.

This is a rough beginning to finding your occupational type, but you will soon be seeking out more detailed results from the Strong Interest Inventory assessment as a part of this course.

Use the top thee occupation types you defined in Exercise 4.2 “What’s Your Occupational Type?” to help identify careers you may want to consider from the table below.

Table 4.1 Occupational Options by Type

Ideal Environments Sample Occupations
Realistic
  • Structured
  • Clear lines of authority
  • Work with things and tools
  • Casual dress
  • Focus on tangible results or well-thought-out goals
  • Contractor
  • Emergency medical technician (EMT)
  • Mechanic
  • Military career
  • Packaging engineer
Investigative
  • Nonstructured
  • Research oriented
  • Intellectual
  • Work with ideas and data
  • Pharmacist
  • Lab technician
  • Nanotechnologist
  • Geologist
  • College professor
Artistic
  • Nonstructured
  • Creative
  • Rewards unconventional and aesthetic approaches
  • Creation of products and ideas
  • Advertising career
  • Architect
  • Animator
  • Musician
  • Journalist
Social
  • Collaborative
  • Collegial
  • Work with people and on people-related problems/issues
  • Work as a team or community
  • Teacher
  • Geriatric counselor
  • Correctional officer
  • Coach
  • Nurse
Enterprising
  • Typical business environment
  • Results oriented
  • Driven
  • Work with people and data
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Power focused
  • Sales manager
  • Banker
  • Lawyer
  • Business owner
  • Restaurant manager
Conventional
  • Orderly
  • Clear rules and policies
  • Consistent processes
  • Work with systems to manipulate and organize data
  • Control and handling of money
  • Auditor
  • Insurance underwriter
  • Bank teller
  • Office manager
  • Database manager

You can also check out Gottfredson and Holland’s Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes in the reference section of your library or use the Department of Labor’s O*Net (http://online.onetcenter.org/find) to get a deeper understanding of your occupation. For each occupation, O*Net lists the type of work, the work environment, the skills and education required, and the job outlook for that occupation. This is a truly rich resource that you should get to know.

Identify Which Factors Might Affect Your Choice

You may now have a list of careers you want to explore. But there are other factors you will need to take into consideration as well. It is important to use your creative thinking skills to come up with alternative “right” answers to factors that may present an obstacle to pursuing the right career.

  • Timing. How much time must I invest before I actually start making money in this career? Will I need to spend additional time in school? Is there a certification process that requires a specific amount of experience? If so, can I afford to wait?
  • Finances. Will this career provide me with the kind of income I need in the short term and the security I’ll want in the longer term? What investment will I need to make to be successful in this field (education, tools, franchise fees, etc.)?
  • Location. Does this career require me to relocate? Is the ideal location for this career somewhere I would like to live? Is it somewhere my family would like to live?
  • Family/personal. How will this career affect my personal and family life? Do friends and family members who know me well feel strongly (for or against) about this career choice? How important is their input?

Your Next Steps

It may seem odd to be thinking about life after school, especially if you are just getting started. But you will soon be making decisions about your future, and regardless of the direction you may choose, there is a lot you can do while still in college. You will Directional signpostneed to focus your studies by choosing a major. You should find opportunities to explore the careers that interest you. You can ensure that you are building the right kind of experience on which to base a successful career. These steps will make your dreams come to life and make them achievable.

Start by developing a relationship with a counselor in the Counseling/Transfer Centers in the S Building, SAC Career/CTE Center staff, or an Undecided Majors Counselor in L-222. Another great resource is SAC’s Undecided Majors website http://sac.edu/undecided. It provides several helpful career exploration links.

All too often students engage these counselors only near the end of their college days, when the pressure is just on getting a job—any job—after having completed a degree. But these counselors can be of great help in matching your interests to a career and in ensuring you are gathering the right kind of experience to put you at the top of the recruiting heap.

Keep in mind that deciding on and pursuing a career is an ongoing process. The more you learn about yourself and the career options that best suit you, the more you will need to fine-tune your career plan. Don’t be afraid to consider new ideas, but don’t make changes without careful consideration. Career planning is exciting: learning about yourself and about career opportunities, and considering the factors that can affect your decision, should be a core part of your thoughts while in college.

Learn Specific Skills Necessary for Your Career Path

The table below lists four resources to help you determine which concrete skills are needed for all kinds of professions. You can even discover where you might gain some of the skills and which courses you might take.

Spend some time reviewing each resource. You will find many interesting and exciting options. When you’re finished, you may decide that there are so many interesting professions in the world that it’s difficult to choose just one. This is a good problem to have!

Table 4.2  Online Skills Identification Resources

RESOURCE DESCRIPTION
1 Career Aptitude Test (Rasmussen College) This test helps you match your skills to a particular career that’s right for you. Use a sliding scale to indicate your level of skill in the following skill areas: artistic, interpersonal, communication, managerial, mathematics, mechanical, and science. Press the Update Results button and receive a customized list customized of career suggestions tailored to you, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can filter by salary, expected growth, and education.
2 Skills Profiler (Career OneStop from the U.S. Department of Labor) Use the Skills Profiler to create a list of your skills, and match your skills to job types that use those skills. Plan to spend about 20 minutes completing your profile. You can start with a job type to find skills you need for a current or future job. Or if you are not sure what kind of job is right for you, start by rating your own skills to find a job type match. When your skills profile is complete, you can print it or save it.
3 O*Net OnLine This U.S. government website helps job seekers answer two of their toughest questions: “What jobs can I get with my skills and training?” and “What skills and training do I need to get this job?” Browse groups of similar occupations to explore careers. Choose from industry, field of work, science area, and more. Focus on occupations that use a specific tool or software. Explore occupations that need your skills. Connect to a wealth of O*NET data. Enter a code or title from another classification to find the related O*NET-SOC occupation.
4 Suggested Courses to Develop Skills that Prospective Employers Want (Psych Web) If you are trying to strengthen particular skills, certain courses may be helpful. The list at this site is based on courses offered on many campuses and some of the skills the courses emphasize.

Acquiring Necessary Skills (both in and out of class) for Your Career Goals

“Lifelong learning” is a buzz phrase in the twentieth-first century because we are inundated with new technology and information all the time, and those who know how to learn, continuously, are in the best position to keep up and take advantage of these changes. Think of all the information resources around you: colleges and universities, libraries, the Internet, videos, games, books, films—the list goes on.

With these resources at your disposal, how can you best position yourself for lifelong learning and a strong, viable career? Which hard and soft skills are most important? What are employers really looking for?

The following list was inspired by the remarks of Mark Atwood, director of open-source engagement at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. It contains excellent practical advice.

  • Learn how to write clearly. After you’ve written something, have people edit it. Then rewrite it, taking into account the feedback you received. Write all the time.
  • Learn how to speak. Speak clearly on the phone and at a table. For public speaking, try Toastmasters. “Meet and speak. Speak and write.”
  • Be reachable. Publish your email so that people can contact you. Don’t worry about spam.
  • Learn about computers and computing, even if you aren’t gearing for a career in information technology. Learn something entirely new every six to twelve months.
  • Build relationships within your community. Use tools like Meetup.com and search for clubs at local schools, libraries, and centers. Then, seek out remote people around the country and world. Learn about them and their projects first by searching the Internet.
  • Attend conferences and events. This is a great way to network with people and meet them face-to-face.
  • Find a project and get involved. Start reading questions and answers, then start answering questions.
  • Collaborate with people all over the world.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and social media profiles up-to-date. Be findable.
  • Keep learning. Skills will often beat smarts. Be sure to schedule time for learning and having fun!

Just Get Involved

After you’ve networked with enough people and built up your reputation, your peers can connect you with job openings that may be a good fit for your skills. The video, below, from Monash University in Australia offers the following tips:

  1. Get involved in part-time work
  2. Get involved in extracurricular activities
  3. Get involved with employment and career development

“Just Get involved. There are so many opportunities and open doors for you.”

Key Takeaways

  • The right career for you depends on your interests, your personality, and your skills.
  • Learning about your personality helps you to think about your emotions, behaviors, and ways of thinking on a day to day basis. An awareness of these things will help you to find a career that compliments your personality.
  • Employers look for both hard and soft (transferable) skills in future employees; however transferable skills may be in more demand because they help people adapt to a variety of different jobs and professions without much training.
  • Defining your occupational type may confirm career choices you have already made and open entirely new options for you.
  • Connect with a college counselor early in your career development process to help you match your skills, personality and interests with potential jobs and eventually a career that best suits you.
  • Career planning is an ongoing process involving knowing yourself, knowing about career options, and understanding the context in which your decisions will be made.