Find Your Career Flare – Your Personal Style

Career Decision Wheel
Model by Norm Amundson
Image by Jody Little

“We construct a narrative for ourselves, and that’s the thread that we follow from one day to the next. People who disintegrate as personalities are the ones who lose that thread.” ~Paul Auster, author

At the core of ‘who you are’ is your personal style.  It doesn’t operate all on its own, as it is impacted by other aspects of your ‘self’ in the Career Decision Wheel.  However, it may steer much of your thinking, communicating and decision-making.  It may also impact how you get along with others, and how they perceive you.   Knowing your personal style, along with being able to assess the style of others can be helpful in the world of work.

There are many ways to assess your personal style, but one of the most common is based on the psychology type theory of Carl Jung.  The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) http://www.myersbriggs.org/ is one assessment that will help you determine which of sixteen types best fits for you.  It uses the following components or four scales:

  1. How and where you focus direction and get energy (extraversion vs. introversion)
  2. How you prefer to receive and process information (sensing vs. intuition)
  3. How you like to make decisions (thinking vs. feeling)
  4. How you react in life and decision making (judging vs. perceiving)

Another well respected personal style assessment is called Personality Dimensions. http://www.personalitydimensions.com/ It shares some similarities to the MBTI in that the full assessment measures how you focus your direction and how you get your energy, and the end result is a dominant style or type using a colour-coded system (e.g. Inquiring Green vs Authentic Blue).  These types are based on the work of Jung, Keirsey, and Berens and uses a dynamic card sort system and questionnaires to help determine personal style.  One of the qualities of this tool that is worth mentioning is that it represents the metaphor that we are all a composite – or plaid – of all of these colours, and simply that one colour or ‘type’ comes more naturally than others.

Personal Style Gaps

Typically the only time you will find a ‘gap’ in personal style is if something is wrong with the assessment process.  It is important first to remember that we are never just one thing – that while we are unique individuals, we all have the ability to share certain traits, characteristics, preferences, and styles.  No assessment will tell you who you are – you need to verify this for yourself, and determine why an assessment is saying what it says.  Before you take an assessment of any kind, it is important to take note of your personal state – most suggest that you take the assessment when you are not stressed and try to envision yourself in your most relaxed, natural state.  However, if you are under duress, such as during a crisis of any kind (including unemployment) or if you have any mental health concerns you should talk to a counsellor and Career Development Practitioner first.

Some people find that they are able to find a style that feels like it fits very easily.  Be careful to avoid complacently allowing an assessment to ‘tell’ who you are and suggest what career is best.  Be sure to validate your results with examples from past life and career successes, and by spending time talking to others about how this could fit for you.

Some people find attributes from each personal style that fits for them, and are unable to accept the results of just one type.  Another important distinction is that personal style is the difference between personal preference and skill.  For example, a person may have developed excellent presentation skills and appear to be outgoing, but they may find their energy more inwardly – understanding this difference between skill and preference may be the key in determining your true preferred style.  Most people can find skill and some interest in many aspects of personal style, but if you are able to be true to your most preferred states, you are likely to have the best assessment results.

Personal Style in Career: A True Story

An accountant in a social service firm knew that she was the ‘go to’ person for all the company’s financial matters.  Known for her meticulous and dependable nature, she always had her reports done on time for the CEO who liked his reports with detail, but preferred the executive summary.  The accountant was quiet, and preferred to work with her door closed.  Meanwhile, the Lead Project Manager down the hall drove her crazy!  She was so loud on the phone, insisted on her ‘open door policy’ so that colleagues could come talk to her whenever they wanted.  Her reports were always left to the last minute – probably because she was talking all the time, according to the accountant – and it drove her crazy, because her procrastinating always made the accountant have to wait to get her reports finalized.  The CEO, on the other hand, had knowledge of the finances, but when it came to innovation, when he decided they were moving forward with something, he didn’t question the ‘how’, but just directed her to figure out the finances to make it happen.

Despite how these relationships might have appeared doomed, each colleague had a great deal of respect for each other and the skills and attibutes they each brought to the team.  Their personal style was reflected in their career choices (ISTJ accountant, ENFP Manager, ENTP CEO).

Personal Style Assessments

These two types of personal style should be done with a qualified practitioner and you can find someone who administers these assessments through the links below.  However, if you would like a taste of what personality or personal style assessments can offer at free/low cost, consider starting a personal style assessment on your own through one of these other personal style or personality assessments:

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)  http://www.myersbriggs.org/

Personality Dimensions http://www.personalitydimensions.com/

Other Sample Assessments:

Keirsey Temperament Sorter:  http://www.keirsey.com/sorter/register.aspx

Carolyn Kalil’s Personality Assessment (True Colors): http://www.truecolorscareer.com/quiz.asp

These assessments are offered for FREE at a most Work BC centre: http://www.workbc.ca/Work-BC-Centres/Pages/Work-BC-Centres.aspx

Next Steps

Once you have completed your Personal Style assessments, you might find it helpful to note your MBTI Type or Personality Dimensions colours on your own Career Decision Wheel.  More importantly, note what that means to you – if there are particular words or images that resonate for you through the assessment process, document the top ‘ideas’ that come to mind.  If at any point you feel stuck, consider meeting with a professional Career Development Practitioner.  They can help provide you with appropriate assessments and other tools to help you make the best career choices.  Stay tuned for the next Career Decision Wheel blog on Significant Others.

Sarah Nelson’s educational background includes education, linguistics, and career development. Professionally a Career Development Practitioner with a CHRP designation, Sarah has a vast array of work experience across several industries. Her early career began in the hospitality industry and has morphed into a career with a strong focus on education, including being a School Trustee in the public education system, a Learning Consultant in the career development field, and a college instructor.

Her main areas of interest include communication and the power of words, innovation and creativity, living with passion and purpose and a desire to see the world full of lifelong learners who want to ‘be the change’. Sarah is also a “midnight genealogist” with a desire to uncover lost roots for herself and others, with a desire to learn from the past to live in the present and create a better future.  Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn at  http://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahnelson71 or Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/sarahnelson71.

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