Mar 13, 2007

Socionics and Careers

I'll start off this topic with a question: Which of the following would provide the greatest assistance when making a career choice?

a) a socionic type test
b) the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory
c) the Keirsey Temperament Sorter
d) a career preference test

I hope you chose d) ! That is correct. Of these, the socionics test would be least useful, and the MBTI and Keirsey test somewhere in between. Why is that?

The career preference test will give you results specifically related to careers, based on questions about various work activities. The socionics test will have neither of these. Keirsey and the MBTI are more predictive of career choices because, compared to Jung's "original typology," the Myers-Briggs and Keirsey typologies have over time become more closely associated with professional behavior and professions (especially in Keirsey's case) than was true in Jung's time (essentially, I'm claiming their type distributions and type definitions have drifted). This is probably due to the high demand in the U.S. for all kinds of business applications (the U.S. has a extraverted logic dominant culture).

Socionic type, in comparison, has less relation to profession. Why this is the case has been discussed indirectly in my article "Socionics and Evolution" in the "Group Strategies" section. Each profession consists not only of individual specialists who are performing work unique to the profession, but also all sorts of auxiliary functions, as well as complex relationships between all people and work functions involved. When we think of a profession like "physicist," we usually think of someone who looks like this. However, what about all the physicists who do this? In almost every profession there are different roles that require different capabilities. In each industry (such as the medical industry, or the film industry) the range of roles is yet greater.

The irony of career counseling is that most of today's careers really aren't that different. Most people don't become "physicists" or "teachers" or "artists." Most people end up doing some sort of office work. Where is the career preference test that gives you a realistic answer: "you are best suited for general administration work that involves sitting at a computer, creating and editing Word and Excel documents, writing several dozen e-mails a day, and attending the occasional meeting or luncheon. Some kind of auxiliary skill - such as legal knowledge, programming abilities, or tax expertise - may prove worthwhile." It seems that there is a discrepancy between what we are "best suited for" and what we actually end up doing. This is because the economy exists to produce goods and services, and not to ensure the self-realization of all participants :)

So, if socionic type is not very predictive (or not predictive enough) of profession, can it be used in career counseling at all? Probably not, in my opinion. It would be better to use traditional instruments such as career preference tests, and then talk to an experienced and talented counselor who can recognize your strengths, interests, and preferences and help you to formulate them.

However, socionics could be useful after one has chosen one's profession and is trying to find one's niche within the field - assuming that one is essentially satisfied with one's choice of profession. For example, one-on-one counseling with an experienced socionist could be useful for artists and actors who are trying to find their "voice," or for managers and other professionals who are trying to develop the work style that works best for them. For such cases, I can't think of anything more insightful than socionics.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

true- it is useful to develop a work style once in a profession.
even professions where one is beyond the inner voice thing in maturity, and just need to develop a more efficient work-output without burning oneself out or limiting ones intrinsic creativity.

i hope that all personality types find sufficient tools for this stage of personality development.
if i can find a link that probably helped for a lot of beta and gammas i will post it.. something from an archive of socionics literature....__

Anonymous said...

I think your knowledge of different roles and what goes on in the work place is perhaps a little limited.

I can not see an enfp working in a quality control position for BMW.

I can not see an intj or even an entp becoming great and delicate facilitators, trainers and project co-ordinators when there is a massive amount of internal conflict within the organisation about the direction the company should travel. Here you would find enfj and isfj well suited.

Of course if a person is "not type oriented" or has worked on so many things that weaknesses are pretty much as good as strengths, then anything is possible.

The more type oriented a person the less careers will be suitable for that person.

Not every office job involves creating and editing Word and Excel documents, writing several dozen e-mails a day, and attending the occasional meeting or luncheon. I don't know how many places you've worked? ....

Rick said...

I prefer socionics notation for the types, because I don't know if you're coming from an MBTI paradigm or a socionics one. MBTI and socionics have different views on types and careers. I have seen many, many people working in positions that did not correspond in any way to common expectations of what their type would be good at. Therefore, I'm inclined to think that any type in virtually any position is possible in principle, and that every or nearly every combination in fact does occur.

The fact is, career recommendations tend to focus on exciting careers, not the relatively dull ones that so many people ultimately end up with. My point about office work is that from a certain perspective, what people end up doing in the office isn't so varied in essence -- basically just sitting at a computer at a desk, with occasional meetings, write-ups, reports, and phone calls. The content of the work differs, but the form is pretty uniform.

I've had about 12-15 jobs, personally. My last office job was 7 years ago.

Anonymous said...

I come from a socionics background, and I have been in many office jobs. Where I have not had to write word documents, excel spread sheets or attend meetings.

The jobs where I have been forced to not do what "I want" to do and write documentation, deal with customers on the telephone and so on I disliked every last minute of it, and to tell you the truth I was out the door and into my next role as fast as my legs would carry me.

A job where I can be creative, design solutions to complex problems that have not been solved before and build stuff is my bag, this would not be the bag of an isfj.

Sure I have seen loads of people in jobs where their types would not initally match, but not that many! You make it out like there is no correlation at all.

A career report saying an intj may be interested in computer programming and that istp may be interested in accountancy and that an istj may be interested in military and processes.

This is worthwhile, because it helps a person find themselves and find what they may well be interested in. Even if they don't know anything about the topics covered in the report yet.

An enfp would detest an ideal job for an istj and vice versa.

Maybe you should try working as a quality control supervisor for BMW or a tester in software house Rick, where 1 minor change to the system means you have to go through about 5,000+ tests manually checking the outcome of each and writing your findings before the minor change can be approved.

Rick said...

I guess I disagree with the idea of an "ideal job" for any type. For instance, would you say that "theoretical physicist" is an ideal job for ILEs? What about the ones who are too restless for that amount of mental work, or the one's who aren't that mathematically inclined, or simply not that intelligent?

The specific traits that one needs to be ideal for a job never correspond exactly to type traits. Furthermore, an ideal job is an abstraction that is largely unattainable in practice. People find themselves working largely at jobs that are a decent match for their interests, skills, and temperament.

One of my favorite jobs working for someone else was purely physical (packing Pepsi-cola, many years ago). As an intellectual person, I appreciated the fact that the job didn't encumber my mind with things I was not interested in, and that I could think about whatever I wanted while working. That's pretty counter-intuitive to what one would think "ideal" for an IEE. There was no creativity involved whatsoever.

I agree that many LSIs are well-suited for quality control, and fewer IEEs. However, I've met more emotionally labile LSIs who would be poorly suited to that work, as well as ones who may not have had the mental capacity necessary. I wouldn't want to suggest quality control as a career choice for these LSIs.

Nor would I recommend my current career path for most IEEs, although I find it very fulfilling personally. I've met ESEs and ILEs with very similar careers to my own, however. All of us have shared a particular set of traits that goes beyond our types, that makes us suited for what we do.