Updated 27 May 2020
The acronym ESFP is used to describe one of the 16 unique personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
A widely adopted personality test, the MBTI uses social, behavioural and cognitive preferences to determine an individual’s character. The personality type allocated reflects the key qualities that make up their overall personality.
Identifying your Myers-Briggs personality type can help you understand more about how you interact with people, how you make decisions and how you process information. It can also help you choose a suitable career path based on your strengths and weaknesses.
Specifically aimed at the ESFP personality, this article offers career advice for those who identify with this type, including the 10 best career matches for ESFPs, plus careers they should avoid.
The ESFP personality is perhaps the most outgoing of all the Myers-Briggs types. Often referred to as the ‘Entertainer’, the qualities of the ESFP are a result of the following characteristics:
As sociable individuals, ESFPs are known as the life and soul of the party. They take pleasure in bringing joy to those around them and have a wide circle of friends to whom they devote a lot of time and energy.
Although the ESFP personality finds satisfaction in being the centre of attention, they are also emotionally observant and sensitive to the feelings of others.
They make for supportive friends, often being the first to lend a shoulder to cry on, and are good at practical problem-solving. However, they can be conflict-averse and tend to avoid dealing with their problems.
ESFPs live in the here and now and place little emphasis on future planning. They have a passion for life, constantly seeking out new experiences, and are motivated by instant gratification.
Highly people-focused, ESFP personality types enjoy sharing their excitement and inspiring others through their enthusiasm.
Strongly guided by their senses, ESFPs also take great pleasure from the visual world. They are keenly observant and have the most heightened sense of aesthetic appreciation of all the Myers-Briggs personality types. This quality is often outwardly visible, as ESFPs take pride in the appearance of both themselves and their surroundings.
Talkative, entertaining, curious and opportunistic, ESFPs are people-pleasers who crave company, live in the moment and always look for their next chance to take centre stage.
The qualities of the ESFP character type are made up of certain key strengths and weaknesses:
The best ESFP career matches are generally those that offer a service-oriented environment. With a love of people and a need for instant gratification, ESFPs perform best when working with others to achieve visible results.
Their tendency to live in the moment makes them unsuited for long-term projects or roles that involve forward planning. Instead, they prefer to take direct action for short term gain.
As creative individuals, they approach their work with flexibility, feeling restricted by rules and regulations.
The careers best suited to ESFPs are also those that offer variety. This personality type is experience-driven and enjoys a practical working environment that presents new challenges or adventures.
Outgoing and personable, ESFPs view teamwork as a form of social interaction. They enjoy working with others that don’t take things too seriously and look to have fun while fulfilling their duties.
As team members, ESFPs are unlikely to be the ones to focus on detail but will support their co-workers with practical guidance and encouragement.
ESFPs are also good at uniting a team, using their people skills to foster cooperation and their observational skills to pinpoint where individual talents lie. As they are action-focused, they prefer a team environment that delivers results and will show little interest in drawn-out meetings or in-depth discussions.
As managers, ESFP personality types look to build bonds through their engaging personality and meet the needs of staff through keen observation. They lead through motivation and encouragement, often making highly inspirational managers.
However, they also look to maintain a harmonious environment and can be ineffective at dispute resolution, preferring to delegate this responsibility elsewhere.
As in all aspects of their lives, ESFP managers prefer to focus on short-term plans with tangible results. This makes them less suited to leadership roles that involve long-term strategy or substantial planning.
Thanks to their love of people, ESFP personality types are well suited to any career that involves high levels of social interaction. They enjoy catering to the needs of others and, as such, would find job satisfaction in hospitality, retail, sales and customer service. Their highly tuned senses also draw them to roles that are visual or tactile.
Results-driven and motivated by action, ESFPs need to work to specific and short-term goals and will find the most pleasure in a flexible, harmonious working environment.
With that in mind, here are 10 of the best ESFP career matches.
As the entertaining personality type, the role of actor is one of the most appropriate ESFP career matches. Their love of the spotlight, and for inviting others into a shared experience, makes this a highly fitting profession, particularly in the case of stage acting where the action happens live and the effects are instantly visible.
Working as an actor, ESFPs may be required to travel or learn new skills for a particular role. This will satisfy their need for excitement and appeal to their adventurous nature.
Any social gathering is a treat for the ESFP personality, so a career in planning them is a logical move. With their strong people skills, ESFPs communicate effectively with clients, venues and suppliers to bring ideas to life.
Their creative streak and love of aesthetically pleasing environments would also help them bring visual appeal to any celebration.
Since ESFPs take pride in seeing the results of their efforts, the fast-paced world of events is a great fit for this personality type.
The best ESFP career matches are those that offer a hands-on working environment, so any kind of design-based career may appeal to those with this personality type.
Fashion design, in particular, combines the ESFP's love of style with their appreciation for quality. Those working in this field often travel for inspiration and experiment with new trends.
They may also be involved in presenting their work to buyers or at fashion shows. The ESFPs outgoing, thrill-seeking character would find enjoyment in all of these responsibilities.
ESFPs are enthusiastic individuals that find fulfilment in sharing thoughts and ideas with those around them. They enjoy taking centre stage and see it as their duty to ensure everyone in the room is involved.
These qualities make them well suited to educational settings. As teachers, they would motivate their students, taking pride in their achievements and finding job satisfaction in making a difference to the lives of others.
Due to the uncertainty and potential instability of this career path, many personality types are unsuited to entrepreneurship. For ESFPs, though, it plays to many of their strengths.
This personality type is not afraid of taking risks and actively seeks out a challenge. ESFPs have the charisma and persuasive people skills to get people on board with their ideas and enjoy making things happen.
The downside is that they often neglect to think ahead, so ESFP entrepreneurs may need a supportive team around them to focus on the finer details.
Service-related roles that include variety make for strong ESFP career matches. Working as part of a cabin crew offers the chance to meet new people every day and travel to various destinations, while working with a group of like-minded co-workers.
Not only would ESFPs find the nature of this work appealing, but they also have the people skills to deal with passengers from all walks of life. Cheerful and attentive, they would put nervous flyers at ease, calm irate travellers and entertain in the event of delays.
Another of the ESFP careers that will offer substantial social interaction is the sales profession. This personality type enjoys building a rapport through small talk and is tuned in to the needs of those they meet. They also have an infectious enthusiasm, which would help them in closing deals.
ESFPs enjoy providing solutions that enhance the lives of others and, if they truly believe in the power of what they’re selling, would find this career highly rewarding.
With an eye for fashion, a love of service and a friendly, attentive manner, ESFPs would make great personal stylists.
Helping others achieve confidence in their appearance would satisfy the pleasure-seeking tendencies of this personality that finds joy in making others feel good.
Almost instant results would heighten the ESFP's enthusiasm – and a constant stream of new customers would provide long term job satisfaction.
For those that have particular athletic ability, the world of professional sports offers one of the most gratifying ESFP career matches. Whether as an individual or as part of a team, ESFPs that pursue this career would work towards personal success while providing entertainment for spectators.
The opportunity to perform in front of large crowds would meet their need for attention and, although training would involve long-term strategy, meeting milestones along the way would fulfil their need to work to short-term goals.
As ESFPs are natural entertainers, many are found working in performing arts. For those who lack a specific talent however, the role of compère may prove an equally rewarding choice for ESFP careers.
Using their skills to excite a crowd before and between acts, compères get the buzz of the stage without having to spend years honing their artistic craft. Since no two shows are ever the same, this career would also appeal to the ESFP's love of new experiences.
If you’ve been identified as an ESFP personality, you should also be aware of the jobs that are less suitable for you. Anything that involves extended periods of solitude, a long-term focus or mundane/repetitive tasks is likely to lead to job dissatisfaction.
As a guide, the below gives three examples of ESFP careers to avoid:
Accountants are responsible for data analysis, budgeting and maintain detailed financial records to ensure the smooth and profitable operation of a company. They work to strict procedures, often independently, and gain little public recognition for their efforts.
All of this goes against the very nature of the ESFP personality. Preferring practical work in a flexible environment, and with little interest in detail and planning, ESFPs would find this work restrictive, monotonous and unrewarding.
Although ESFPs have a natural talent for storytelling in a face-to-face capacity, the solitary working conditions of a writer would prove isolating for them.
Technical writing, in particular, would suffocate the ESFP's outgoing personality. Academic research, fact-checking and attention to detail would leave them exhausted and craving the social interaction that inspires them.
ESFPs are not the sort of people to concern themselves with routine tasks. They look for spontaneity and roles that bring fresh challenges. They are also not the type to spend every day working the same set hours from the same desk in the same office.
This personality type would feel stifled by the detail-oriented nature of this work and quickly become bored with the lack of variety, making administration one of the top ESFP careers to avoid.
The ESFP personality type is quite common and makes up a large percentage of those working in the service and entertainment industries.
ESFPs are not the sort of people to stay in a job for security reasons. They often act impulsively and are not averse to switching career paths if they find a role leaves them unfulfilled.
For the ESFP, life is about enjoying the journey with little focus on the destination, and this character trait largely influences the choices made in their professional lives.
However, when ESFPs commit to a career, they make valuable employees. Enthusiastic, sociable and caring, they are strong team players that can motivate others and foster a working environment in which everyone is heard, respected and appreciated.
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