People making career decisions often find it useful to think in terms of personality types. I have written two books about this: 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality and 10 Best College Majors for Your Personality. In additional to these two, several of my other books also use the Holland taxonomy of personality types (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, Conventional) as an introduction to career exploration.
But personality types are helpful for more than just making a career decision. They can also guide you much later in the career development process, by suggesting strategies for the job hunt.
One reason your personality type is relevant to your job hunt techniques is that you probably are looking for a job in an occupation that is related to your personality type, and different kinds of jobs demand different job-hunting strategies. For example, in a job-hunting process with an Artistic job as the target, a portfolio showing examples of creative work is almost always required. Although portfolios are being employed in job campaigns aimed at other kinds of jobs, such as Enterprising jobs, the people who do the hiring for those jobs tend not to expect them.
There’s something to be said for running counter to expectations—for example, using a portfolio when seeking an Enterprising job precisely because it will set you apart from other job-seekers. However, your job-hunting activities should be the kinds of tasks that best suit your personality. If you’re a Social type, you’ll be more skilled at using strategies that maximize your personal contacts with others. If you’re an Investigative type, you’ll be more comfortable emphasizing research techniques that uncover job openings.
Here are some ideas for how to match your job-hunting tactics to your personality. At their foundation, all of them share the highly effective strategy of networking, but they go about the network-building process in different ways.
If you’re a Realistic personality type, you like hands-on involvement. You should visit workplaces related to your career goal or perhaps an eatery where the workers can be found, so you can interact firsthand. Dress accordingly; you may not need to wear steel-toed boots, but you should avoid wearing an expensive suit. You may want to bring a model or sketch or photograph of an idea you have for how to do the work better or how you have done it in a previous job or school project. Use this as a prop when you start up a conversation with a worker. A related strategy is to do volunteer work of a kind that is related to your career goal and that, ideally, allows you to work alongside people who do that kind of work for a living.
If you’re an Investigative type, you probably have good research skills. Use them to identify important employers for your career goal and compile a list of people who work there with whom you can make contact through intermediaries. Savvy users of LinkedIn and Twitter can search these databases to identify potential contacts. Another tactic is to find the blog where people in your targeted industry exchange news and ideas. (Every industry has at least one.) Become a conspicuous presence there; if you can’t contribute useful comments, at least ask intelligent questions. When you eventually get a chance to meet with a useful contact, bring a chart or diagram that analyzes an industry issue or a plan for solving a problem.
Artistic types, as I noted earlier, will certainly want to develop a portfolio and bring it to any meeting with a contact. You may want to brainstorm and develop an original, media-based way of representing the industry or an industry-related issue, such as an animation, a collage, or a Web page. This representation of your ideas may be easier to distribute than a traditional portfolio. The kind of job you’re aiming for may be more open than most to gimmicky methods of making cold contacts, such as printing your resume on a piece of paper shaped like a shoe and sending it attached to a sticky note saying that you’re trying to get your foot in the door.
In my next blog, I’ll cover the remaining three Holland types.