Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type

Do What You Are : Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type--Revised and Updated Edition Featuring E-careers for the 21st Century
Publishers: Brown Spark, Little
Published: 4/15/2014
DO WHAT YOU ARE--the time-honored classic that has already helped more than a million people find truly satisfying work--is now updated to include jobs in today's hottest markets, including health services, education, and communications technology.

Book Summary - Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger

Key Insights

Do What You Are discusses the different personality types and their temperament groups, along with their respective preferences, blind spots, strengths, and weaknesses. Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help identify which of the 16 personality types are your dominant traits. Knowing your personality type will facilitate choosing the career path that will give the best chance for success because work can be easy and enjoyable when it fits with your personality, innate temperaments, and primary functions.

Key Points

Personality Type Identification

The notion of personality types goes back as far as ancient Greece and was refined in 1929 by Carl Jung. Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers developed the concept further. After many years of research and testing, they created what is now called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It relies on four preference scales and identifies 16 distinct personality types.

The value of this self-test is how it helps you identify the way you interact with the world and assists you to pick a career that brings satisfaction. If you are in the wrong career, it can feel like writing using the non-dominant hand. With enough practice, you can accomplish the task, but it may be lower quality, more difficult, tedious, and less fulfilling.

On the other hand, work that suits your personality type can actually be something you look forward to doing, and which gives you energy.

When piecing together the various personality types that are revealed by taking the MBTI, don’t believe the notion that one personality type is more prone to success than another. It can be common for our culture to value an extroverted personality above the introvert, but that is nonsense. When you are doing the work that best suits you, your success will be much easier than going against your natural grain.

Four Basic Temperaments of the Personality Types

While there are 16 distinct personality types in the MBTI, they can be divided into four temperaments.


  • Traditionalists thrive on stability, order, and consistency. These people will follow through with whatever task they are given. A weakness is that they don’t adapt well and avoid long-term thinking. Around 50% of police officers are traditionalists, which is a high percentage from one career field. It can be understood, though, as traditionalists prefer strong organizational structures and clear procedures, expectations, and chains of command.
  • Experiencers are adventurous, outgoing, and impulsive. Their strengths are courage, innovation, and adaptability. They tend to be good at using tools. Weaknesses include impulsiveness that can result in irresponsibility and they don’t recognize patterns and connections very well. Many Experiencers are in law enforcement, but different than Traditionalists, they are there for the thrill, the variety and the unpredictability of the work.
  • Idealists are about personal growth, knowledge acquisition, integrity, and authenticity. They gravitate toward meaningful work which tends to reflect spirituality and philosophy. Strengths include being open to people and bringing out the best in others. They are highly creative. The downside of Idealists is that they lean toward moodiness, impracticality, being overly emotional, and are poor at handling criticism. Idealists will do best in non-competitive environments that are harmonious.
  • Conceptualizers are intuitive thinkers which see great possibilities everywhere and want to be agents of change to bring about improvements. Their strengths include designing and planning innovative solutions, being confident, and clever. They recognize trends and patterns. Weaknesses include arrogance, disregard for authority, and being too complex while lacking attention to detail. Their best occupations are challenging and intellectually engaging with a generous amount of independence.


These four temperaments can work well together, as each group’s skills are needed to complete the whole. This is especially true in large corporations where strengths in all the various areas come together to produce success.

Dominant Functions Defined

Knowing your temperament is just the beginning. Every personality type has a dominant function and when you know what your dominant function is, your work can be easy and pleasurable.


  • Dominant Sensors prefer cold, hard facts, and the more detailed, the better. They have excellent memories and do their best work when collecting and putting facts to work. The researcher would be a good job for the Dominant Sensor.
  • Dominant Intuitives focus on implications rather than facts, such as subtext and meaning that others may overlook. There will be a preference for employment where creativity, originality, and imagination are allowed. Advertising is a good job for the Dominant Intuitive.
  • Dominant Feelers do well in jobs that reflect their values. Loyalty, empathy, and compassion are the characteristics of this function. Work that focuses on human experiences, such as advocacy and even art, is ideal.
  • Dominant Thinkers are able to cut through the “touchy-feely” and make logical decisions. When tough decisions need to be made, people go to the Dominant Thinkers. Legal careers can be good options for this group.


Changes in Interest Should be Anticipated

Expectations we place on ourselves at the outset of our careers can push us in the wrong direction. Traditional education forces people to make career plans while still in their teens. This is problematic because as we mature, our interests often transform and redirect. To stay satisfied in our employment, we should strive to choose careers that can change with us.

The first six years of life is where the primary personality traits develop. Then between six and twelve, the Dominant Function comes into focus. For example, a Dominant Thinker might talk her way out of trouble while a Dominant Feeler will reflect abilities to sympathize with others in more noticeable ways than normal children.

Additional functions emerge as we age, experience life, and as our brains develop into maturity. It is suggested that the strongest function won’t be revealed until between 25 and 50 years of age and that the common mid-life crisis around forty years of age is actually a Dominant Function arising, causing someone to want to change careers. After 20 years of focusing on the same skill set, we can find ourselves needing a fresh change while at the same time, we are discovering the skills we enjoy that we hadn’t previously explored.

While these new developments and shifts may lead to new career paths, they could also be satisfied with a hobby. However, when heading towards a career choice, awareness of the potential to desire a change down the road is good to consider. At the very least, it’s good to understand just what is happening when you find yourself suddenly ready to completely mix things up. This “mid-life crisis” may not be so much a crisis as a natural transition of life as more functions are revealed.

Apply Knowledge of Your Personality to Career Selection

The chance of someone emailing and offering you your ideal job exists only in daydreams, so the first job to tackle is that of finding what your ideal occupation is and embarking on the search for an opening. The ideal job brings together what you are good at and what interests you. The Meyer-Briggs Personality Test can help you quickly identify which personality types you are and use them to narrow down the types of employment best suited for your traits.

Make a list of the occupations which are recommended for each of your personality types, temperaments, and functions. Then go through the list and rank them according to what sounds best to you. Keep a focus on which ones you allow to be in your top five. Then ask yourself the question, “If money weren’t an issue, which one of these jobs would I be happy to do for free?”

Once you’ve made your list, write down the skills and talents that would be needed to do each of the jobs. This can help you identify the ones you have a natural capability to accomplish as well as assist you in explaining to potential employers why you are the best candidate. In this process, you may also add to your list the ways you have used such skills in the past. It’s also a good idea to inventory your weaknesses and be prepared to show your awareness and intention to address those areas of your personality type as well.

When you’ve narrowed down your list, do some exploratory research into those jobs. Interview people who currently work in them. You just might discover that what you thought was your dream job isn’t so interesting after all.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Careers

If you are already well into your career journey and find life unfulfilling, just know it is never too late to make a shift and start a new career path. More and more, people are staying employed longer than their parents did. According to research, 40% of Americans plan to work until they drop!

When you start a new career late in life, it can be called an “encore career” and be pursued with enthusiasm. No apologies are necessary. Gaining awareness of your personality type and dominant function can ensure that your encore career is the best years of your life because the likelihood that you select something you are going to love is greater. You may feel a breath of fresh air because you are finally doing what you sense you were always meant to be accomplishing.

An example in the book is Jay, whose first career took him from getting an MBA to becoming the president of his family’s company. While working in his company, he began coaching sports on the side. This brought him so much enjoyment, at 46 years old, he shifted his career to become a teacher. He now teaches social studies and history in high school and wishes he had made the change sooner.

Whether you are just beginning college or are nearing retirement, knowing your personality traits can help you plan the next phase of your life to best suit your interests and natural abilities.

The Main Takeaway:

Allowing your personality traits to lead your choice in careers can facilitate success. Knowing your personality type helps you recognize strengths and weaknesses, then work to maximize your strengths while mitigating weaknesses. The end result is that your job can be both easy and enjoyable.

About the Author

Paul D. Tieger is an expert in Personality Types. He is the Founder and first Director of The New England Type Institute. Mr. Tieger has trained thousands of managers, team leaders, HR professionals, career consultants, psychologists, attorneys, and educators in his career.


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