How to Choose a Career as an ESFP


People with the ESFP personality type are commonly attracted to careers with high flexibility and creative freedom. While a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is never the only thing to consider for a career, it can be a valuable part of the decision or narrow down possibilities.

For more information on choosing an ESFP career, what their benefits are, and other factors to consider, continue reading below.

ESFP Careers Summary

The best careers for ESFPs are hands-on, creative, active, and results-oriented. ESFPs are often found as artists, performers, designers, sales representatives, and counselors. These careers satisfy ESFPs’ need to be engaged and habitually interacting with others, but they can be some of the hardest to get started in.

Common Careers For ESFPs

Some careers are more common than others for ESFPs. Jobs that combine the different strengths of each category of ESFP will generally be good career options. This is because jobs that require all elements of an ESFP’s character will keep their mind stimulated and play to their strengths.

To better understand common careers, it is crucial to break down what “ESFP” really means:

Element Focus Placed On
E – Extraverted Exterior things and people
S – Sensing Confirmed experiences
F – Feeling People and subjectivity
P – Perceiving Flexibility and information

These are quick explanations of each section largely as they relate to careers. You can also refer to your original Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test for a more detailed review of what each letter means and how it may specifically apply to you.

A Concise List

Keeping the cognitive functions of ESFP in mind, we can move on to a shortlist of potential careers. Each of these caters to at least one part of the ESFP profile, and likely more than one.

Individual experiences at each career, and even position, will differ. A designer working for an agency may experience a more ESFP-friendly environment than one working for a bank, as an example. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Manual includes some recommended options.

Common ESFP career choices include:

  • Artist
  • Actor
  • Sales Representative
  • Counselor
  • Child Caretaker
  • Designer
  • Event Planner
  • Photographer
  • Social Worker

As you read through the list, you may notice that many are classically referred to as creative paths or commonly associated with artists and freelancers. The mix of sensing, feeling, and perceiving traits all stack exceptionally well to make this work.

For example, working as an event planner may touch upon each trait in the following ways:

Personality Element Application to Career
Extroverted Talking and communicating with others at all times
Sensing Providing experiences and crafting detailed reports
Feeling Crafting events around specific people and their feelings
Perceiving Spontaneously crafting plans and adapting to new clients

Some of these points are stronger than others, or multiple parts of the job will touch upon the same trait. Rather than viewing this as a negative, try to think of it as a positive. Myers-Briggs Personality Types are meant to represent general preferences, not cover every detail of one’s being.

There will inevitably be days that you feel more introverted (I) or areas where you prefer to be more judging (J) with work. Some careers will adapt to you more than others.

For example, working as an actor or actress may be less flexible than an artist or counselor. It is a job that constantly requires you to be “on” and in the spotlight, even on working days where you do not want to be.

Choosing A Different Path

The provided list of typical career paths should not limit your options. If you are called to be something outside of the list or to a career not commonly seen as ESFP, that is no reason not to pursue it. Instead, you can consider what other factors are pulling you toward that option.

There has been plenty of research into how different personalities fit into career paths ranging from advertising professionals to doctors. While ESFP personalities may be much less common in some of these, they do exist. Common ESFP careers should be used as inspiration, not a limiting factor.

With that said, you can take some essential steps to make working in a traditionally non-ESFP field easier for you. The theory that ESFP-type personalities operate best in slightly chaotic spaces with more freedom is a popular one. Creating freedom for yourself at almost any job is an option with careful consideration and some early planning.

When choosing a career, take the following steps:

  1. Try to avoid working too heavily with data.
  2. Mix teamwork or multi-headed solutions whenever possible.
  3. Areas where you can be resourceful are a good idea.
  4. Find careers where you can independently push yourself.

Above all, staying actionable and placing yourself in the middle of what is going on will help you succeed in any career.

Some of these points may seem to contradict one another; in reality, they allow for flexibility. Due to individual changes and personalities, you may find that you prefer tackling some problems alone, while others demand your attention in a team setting.

Luckily, there are plenty of careers out there that can fill these different requirements. Generally, start-ups or small businesses where you can get your hands in different pies at once can help you out – even if your base job does not traditionally fit an ESFP.

What to Factor in while Deciding on a Career

You cannot choose a career simply because it fits on a list of ESFP careers. Everyone has different personalities, traits, and talents, and finding a career that lets you combine your specific skills with your personality is worth the trouble.

Think about the following while deciding on a career:

  1. What talents were you born with?
  2. Factor in the experiences you’ve had.
  3. Consider your current interests.

Even if it does not fit into ESFP, such as being a surgeon, you should mark it down. It may help inspire you to find jobs that mix your skills well.

Accounting for all of these external factors will also help you be more realistic in your pursuits. While it is essential to do what you love, deciding to become an actor with no stage experience late in life may be exceptionally difficult.

Quite a few of the common ESFP careers are traditionally difficult to get into and require passion on the part of the pursuer. Rather than deciding to become a photographer or artist due to a list, consider whether you even enjoy painting or cameras early on.

Your Decision Making During Testing

Another thing to consider when looking at careers for ESFP minds is your decision-making during testing. One of the more common detriments of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test is that it can be faked to receive a different answer. This is true of almost every test, however, and studies have also shown the positives of the test.

Still, it is important to consider your decision-making and mindset when you got tested. Especially if you took the MBTI in search of matching a specific job, you should consider why. There is a possibility that your mindset was not your usual one during testing, and as such, you received a different answer than normal.

Other common reasons why your typing may be different include:

  • Stress
  • Idealization
  • Social Stigma

Each of these reasons (and more!) can account for different answers, so try to be honest with yourself. If you feel that you likely did not answer truthfully during your testing, consider asking for another go.

It is generally held among psychologists that one’s personality type does not really change over time, though the results of the test may change based on the degree of honesty in the answering.

Recap

ESFP personalities tend to operate best in careers with freedom, energy, and interaction with other people. Jobs where you can switch between working in teams and alone while capitalizing on high flexibility play to ESFP strengths.

Common ESFP careers include:

  • Artists
  • Entertainers
  • Designers
  • Photographers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Event Coordinators

And more. Any career can be tailored to fit an ESFP person by changing environments or focuses.

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