Updated 27 May 2020
When considering your career options, it is useful to develop a good understanding of your character, the strengths and weaknesses you possess, and how these translate to the workplace. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a personality test.
The Myers-Briggs assessment is one such test. It separates individuals into 16 different personality types based on their dominant and supporting cognitive functions.
In this article, we will look in-depth at the ISFJ personality type, discussing their associated qualities and working preferences, before providing ten examples of the most suitable ISFJ career matches.
One of the more common Myers-Briggs personality types, ISFJ individuals possess qualities that relate to the following characteristics:
These identifiers indicate an individual’s way of thinking, behaving and interacting.
In the case of ISFJ personality traits, their introversion makes them private people that value time alone with their thoughts. They keep emotions hidden and struggle to open up to others.
However, they are unique in that they can often be mistaken for extroverts, owing to the fact they possess strong people skills and are good communicators. They tend to have a large number of acquaintances but will consider only one or two as close personal friends.
ISFJ personality types are natural caregivers. They are kind, considerate and warm, and are motivated by attending to the needs of others. ISFJs often go the extra mile in their endeavours but place little value on recognition, preferring instead to work quietly behind the scenes.
They are also creative and imaginative but balance this with a grounded, practical outlook. Focusing on the moment rather than looking to the future, ISFJ personalities have a keen eye for detail and look for structure in their lives.
They hold traditional values and prefer convention over unpredictability.
ISFJs are organised, methodical and comfortable with routine. They enjoy seeing a task through to completion, making them dependable and the type of people that others tend to rely on.
As well as providing a blueprint for behavioural tendencies, ISFJ personality traits also offer insight into the strengths and weaknesses of individuals who identify with this type:
The ISFJ personality is driven by altruism and prefers a working environment that allows them to tend to the needs of others. Their affiliation with traditional values draws them to established roles that have a clear and concrete purpose.
Their introverted tendencies make them best suited to solitary roles, or those that involve working with a small team of like-minded individuals. ISFJs shy away from attention and prefer to take supporting roles that allow them to remain in the background.
ISFJs crave structure, performing best when provided with strong direction, or when working to detailed procedures. They respect both rules and authority, and are most comfortable when these are clearly defined.
They approach their work in a practical, organised manner and enjoy the closure of completing a set task. Hardworking and loyal, and with a preference for routine, the ISFJ is a personality type that will remain in one place of employment for long spells of their career.
ISFJs tend to opt for supporting team roles. Their practical and organised methods of working mean they often find themselves fulfilling administrative duties such as note-taking, and their preference for working behind the scenes makes them more inclined to focus on the finer details, rather than taking the lead on big ideas.
The ISFJ personality appreciates teams that work in harmony. They are uncomfortable with conflict and are easily affected by tension due to their emotional sensitivities. As individuals that strongly adhere to rules and regulations, they expect their co-workers to do the same and will find it a challenge to work with others that don’t share their values.
ISFJ personality types are not born leaders since they take no pleasure in being in the spotlight. Despite their reluctance, however, their loyal sense of duty means they will take on a management role if required.
When acting as leaders, ISFJs stick to working behind the scenes and are likely to form strong relationships with the supporting staff they can trust to get the job done. Their traditional hierarchical values extend to their position as leader, and they will look for the same level of respect from their employees.
ISFJs are traditional, warm and caring. They look for structure in their professional lives and value stability. They prefer quiet, harmonious environments and hold traditional values which they bring to the workplace.
The list below provides ten suggestions for ISFJ career matches based on the strengths, character traits and working preferences of this personality type.
The ISFJ personality is attentive to the needs of others and enjoys taking on the role of caregiver. In their work, they value established practices and procedures and look to fill roles that contribute to a wider purpose.
This makes nursing one of the most logical ISFJ career matches. It is a profession that will allow them to combine their compassionate nature with their talent for organisation.
As one of the few introverted personalities with strong social skills, the ISFJ will also find no problem interacting with patients.
Whilst they do possess good people skills, ISFJ personality types also value solitude, and a role such as bookkeeping offers just that.
Spending their time recording a company’s costs and income, as well as producing financial reports, will appeal to the ISFJs preference for structure and organisation, and allows them to work independently.
As good bookkeeping is integral to the success of any business, it also plays to the ISFJ's desire to work behind the scenes in a contributing role.
Interior design brings a creative option to ISFJ career matches. This personality type has a love of harmonious, calm environments, as well as a practical imagination.
In this role, the ISFJ can use their emotional intelligence and creativity to design spaces that fulfil the needs of others. They can also work one-on-one with their clients, avoiding conflict and work-based politics.
ISFJ personality types are not naturally drawn to leadership roles, but as an office manager, many ISFJs will thrive.
Organisation and reliability are key qualities needed in this career and are both strong ISFJ personality traits. Working in the background, office managers ensure the business runs smoothly, adhering to and enforcing established practices and procedures, leaving others to lead on front-line operations.
ISFJ career matches that appeal to their warm, compassionate character also include that of childcare. As with nursing, ISFJs working in this profession will find satisfaction tending to the needs of those in their custody, whilst abiding by rules and regulations that govern their responsibilities.
Attentive and detail-oriented, ISFJs will ensure each child receives appropriate care. Their imagination and gentle personality will also create a nurturing environment that encourages growth.
ISFJs avoid roles that bring conflict or require them to take the spotlight, making them unsuited to certain posts within law. The position of paralegal, however, makes a great option for ISFJ careers.
This profession includes high volumes of independent work, the results of which play a valuable role in a wider team effort. Performing research, preparing documentation and collating evidence allows ISFJs to work in an organised manner, an appealing proposition for this personality type.
The ISFJ personality is more than happy to work on tasks that others would find mundane, as they see them as crucial in achieving a larger goal. Administrative roles are therefore strong ISFJ career matches.
Their methodical, organised approach to work, combined with their commitment and reliability, make them well suited to this career path. Since administrative roles are available across all industries, ISFJs can also satisfy their altruistic temperament by opting for roles in healthcare or educational administration.
Nutritionists work to improve the lives of others by conducting research and educating the public on healthy eating. In this role, ISFJs can work within public or private organisations or one-on-one with individual clients.
By identifying nutritional needs, and implementing appropriate plans, ISFJs use both their observational and organisational skills to deliver positive outcomes.
ISFJs are service-oriented individuals who take satisfaction in assisting others. They are also attentive, patient and empathic, making them well equipped for roles in customer service.
As practical problem-solvers, ISFJs can resolve situations quickly and effectively. However, this profession can present tension if dealing with a particularly difficult or unsatisfied customer. As such, it is one of the ISFJ career matches better suited to those that are more comfortable with conflict, or are prepared to work on this aspect of their personality.
The ISFJ personality type’s preference for peaceful working environments makes the museum setting an ideal fit. As a curator, ISFJs can work alone or as part of a small team to provide and maintain a public place of interest.
ISFJ career matches in a museum setting also appeal to the traditional values of this personality type. They are drawn to history and heritage, and are motivated to preserve it for the enjoyment of others.
Despite their interpersonal skills, ISFJs are still introverts and should avoid any profession that involves extended periods of social interaction. Without time alone, they can easily become overburdened and worn down.
As they prefer roles that offer structure and enjoy working to set schedules, they are also unsuited to jobs that are unpredictable or subject to change.
To illustrate the kind of roles this personality type should steer clear of, the following gives three examples of ISFJ careers to avoid and the reasons why.
Careers in this field are highly unpredictable. Journalists never know what they’ll be working on from one day to the next and may have to drop all other responsibilities in response to breaking news. This would sit uncomfortably with the ISFJ, who prefers routine and structure.
Journalists also have to report on hard truths, which can result in their work causing offence or upset. ISFJs are people-pleasers and would not cope well in these circumstances.
They are also highly sensitive and may struggle with the level of scrutiny associated with this career path.
It is the aggressive, target-driven nature of sales that makes it one of the ISFJ careers to avoid. This personality type enjoys working hard in the background without craving recognition; commission and performance-based bonuses would be a compromise on their ideals.
ISFJs do have the ability to read people – a key quality of any good salesperson – but they are not forceful and would find it difficult to convince others to buy anything they felt they didn’t truly need.
This personality type also prefers cooperative teamwork and would be unfulfilled in a competitive sales environment.
Although some healthcare roles make for strong ISFJ career matches, others, such as emergency response, are less well suited.
Crisis situations call for immediate action, going against the ISFJ's methodical approach. They also set incredibly high standards for themselves and, when working in this kind of role, are likely to question if there was something they could have done better.
Though this is often useful for personal growth, for the ISFJ, it is a source of constant emotional strain.
The ISFJ is a common personality type that accounts for a substantial percentage of the UK workforce. However, as they perform supporting functions that take place behind the scenes and do not seek credit, their presence can often go unnoticed.
Ultimately though, without ISFJs, many businesses and organisations would fail to operate effectively and many individuals in need would not receive quality care.
ISFJs act as the backbone for any company they work for, ensuring the wheels keep on turning, whilst assisting those who prefer to take the lead and work in the limelight.
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