The Many Benefits of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® to My Business
Through my company, A Better Impression, I provide résumé and career counselling services to help my clients create a better impression. I use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) with career counseling clients seeking to make a job or career change.
The original purpose for the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® was to assist people in finding the best possible match between their preferences and career opportunities. Type theory has no implications for success, capability, or performance level in a chosen career path, but is very useful for examining career interest tendencies and choices.
However, an unexpected benefit has been the ability to apply my MBTI® knowledge with résumé writing clients, as well. Other unexpected benefits were insight into building my team of résumé writers/career counselors, and gaining self-understanding and validation as a résumé writer.
Self-Understanding and Validation as a Résumé Writer
In grade school and junior high, I was always recognized by teachers for my writing abilities, and based on the creative writing assignments I produced, they all thought that I would become a writer. Yet, I had no desire to become a writer, because I knew the truth: creative writing was a painstaking process for me – it was always difficult to come up with an original story idea, yet somehow writing was something that I did well. I decided early on to rule out a career as a writer.
By high school, another career aspiration had taken hold. Every spare moment during my high school years were spent drawing and painting. I wanted to be a commercial artist. After the first year of the Art & Art History program at the University of Toronto, I discovered a pattern that had first emerged with my writing: although my technical skills in drawing and painting were excellent, I had a difficult time coming up with original ideas for my art assignments. I came to the conclusion that I could not be a successful artist – the creative spark was missing.
I gave up on my artistic aspirations and decided to study human resources management instead, and then worked in this field for four years. Due to my human resources background, I was frequently approached to provide career guidance to students and adults, through my community involvement and informal networks. As a volunteer in the community, I designed and delivered workshops on résumé writing and interview preparation, provided one-on-one career planning facilitation, and prepared résumés and cover letters targeted to individual career goals. I came across many people experiencing dissatisfaction with their work, which was often spilling over into their personal lives, as well. Often these people would stay at jobs they disliked – or even hated – because they didn’t know what else they could do, or were not confident enough to make a career or job change.
Today, I am a self-employed Certified Professional Résumé Writer and career counselor. After becoming qualified to administer and interpret the MBTI® in 1997 and learning that my psychological type is ISFJ, the ups and downs of my previous career aspirations finally came into focus and unlocked the mystery of why I felt I lacked the creativity to become a writer or artist.
Revelations through Myers-Briggs Type Theory
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® is based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. Jung’s theory is a framework by which to understand human behavior, which attempts to sort people according to the preferences described by Jung. There are 16 psychological types made up of various combinations of preferences resulting in a four-letter type – in my case, ISFJ.
As an Introvert, I prefer:
- Working with clients on a one-to-one basis
- Opportunities to reflect and write down ideas, and depth of learning
- A quiet environment
Extraverts (Jung’s spelling, not a typo) prefer:
- Group interaction
- Opportunities to exchange ideas verbally, and breadth of learning
- An active environment
As a Sensor, I prefer:
- An organized approach and environment
- A systematic approach to gathering facts and details
- Focusing on application and tangible results
- Developing a clear, step-by-step implementation plan
- An innovative approach and environment
- Brainstorming ideas and information spontaneously
- Focusing on theoretical relevance (big picture)
- Developing new possibilities and synthesizing ideas
As a Feeler, I prefer:
- A client interaction style that emphasizes caring for individual needs
- A warm, friendly, supportive environment
- Genuine, authentic feedback
- Opportunities to share inspirations and receive individual validation
- A client interaction style that emphasizes the delivery of expert knowledge
- An intellectually stimulating environment
- Brief, fair, and businesslike interaction
- Opportunities to analyze and critique
As a Judger, I prefer:
- Organized, structured interaction during sessions
- Quicker task completion and decision-making
- Flexible, adaptable interaction during sessions
- More time to complete tasks and make decisions
My inferior function (the one most difficult to access) is Intuition. People who have a preference for Intuition are imaginative and see the big picture and new possibilities. This was a freeing revelation, because I now knew why I had so much difficulty coming up with ideas – as a Sensor, I prefer to focus on facts and details, which is definitely needed as a professional résumé writer. However, no one preference or type is considered good or bad, better or worse. All types are valuable – each type and each individual has unique gifts. People who prefer Intuition can use their natural strengths to become excellent résumé writers, as well.
As an Introvert, I prefer to work with clients on a one-to-one basis, and as a Feeler, I prefer a client interaction style that emphasizes caring for individual needs and a warm, friendly, supportive environment. As a Judger, I prefer organized, structured interaction during sessions. Furthermore, as a professional résumé writer, I am using my writing talents and artistic inclinations in writing powerful résumés and designing innovative formats to help my clients stand out.
When I discovered that I am an ISFJ, I realized that my new career as a professional résumé writer was perfect for me, as it capitalized on, and allowed me to use, all my natural preferences. The satisfaction I derive from making a difference in people’s lives (a Feeler attribute) is what led me to leave the corporate world to start my own business in 1999.
An Innovative Use of the MBTI® with Résumé Writing Clients
Because I have been using the MBTI® since 1997, I can often form hypotheses about clients’ likely MBTI® types through observation, and could adjust the way I conducted the sessions. For example, clients with a preference for Introversion are more comfortable with worksheets, which allow them to reflect and write down their ideas, while clients with a preference for Extraversion gain insight from talking out their ideas and interaction with the interviewer. A client with a preference for Feeling appreciates individualized attention and supportive validation, while a client with a preference for Thinking would be more likely to question my techniques to ensure they are getting the best possible career documents.
Through an understanding of psychological type, I have become aware of the need to recognize preference differences when interacting with clients, and the need to adapt my style to accommodate these differences in order to enhance my effectiveness as a résumé writer.
Building My Business Team
At a recent professional development workshop, How Entrepreneurs Can Build an Effective Team, we were introduced to the following concept: Many business strategists believe that chances of success are increased if founders of companies take into account any missing preferences and “hire their weaknesses.”
As the President of A Better Impression, I now oversee a team that includes a career counselor, two résumé writers, and Web Developer. One résumé writer works with clients exclusively online, while the other provides telephone consultations – thus catering to clients with differing preferences for Introversion and Extraversion.
Furthermore, as an ISFJ, I made sure to seek out a career counselor that has a preference for Intuition, which is my own inferior function. Our MBTI® types complement each other – I particularly valued her expertise in Constructivist Counseling, for which I had taken an introductory course, but quickly found required heavy use of Intuition. Thus, I can now offer Constructivist Counseling to my clients – through her – whereas I could not before.
About the author
Sandra Lim is the President of A Better Impression in Toronto. More information on the company and her services can be found at ABetterImpression.com, or by email.
Copyright © 2003 A Better Impression. All Rights Reserved.
Published November, 2003 in the Professional Association of Rιsumι Writers & Career Coaches’ Spotlight newsletter and reprinted with permission.
MBTI, Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are trademarks or registered trademarks for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.