ESFJ, or “Extraversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judgment,” counts among the 16 Myers-Briggs “Personality Types,” a psychological phenomenon that’s penetrated popular culture.
Also known as “The Consul” or “The Supporter”, ESFJ individuals are characterized by strong social skills, a desire to help those close to them, a keen interest in how they present themselves to the world, and a penchant for problem-solving. One of the most popular Myers-Briggs types, ESFJs account for 12% of the population.
As with any other personality type, ESFJs gravitate toward specific career paths based on their strengths and preferences. Here, we’re breaking down ESFJ personality characteristics, how they manifest in the workplace, and which particular careers best suit professionals who identify as ESFJs.
ESFJs in the workplace
According to 16Personalities (a hub for those interested in Myers-Briggs), ESFJs “thrive on social order and harmony, and use their warmth and social intelligence to make sure that each person knows their responsibilities and is able to get done what needs to get done.” These inclinations serve ESFJs well in professional contexts, as people with this personality type can both effectively lead junior employees and possess an ingrained respect for authority, making them excellent team members.
Because ESFJs are highly social creatures, they feel comfortable accepting responsibility for the coordination of groups and the work performed by the teams they assemble. This allows them to provide strong yet collaborative leadership when they find themselves in management positions. ESFJs want their teams to feel invested and fulfilled by their work, and as managers, they actively seek out input from their subordinates and try to weave those suggestions into their future plans (as opposed to a strict “my way or the highway” ethos). However, ESFJs also value traditional power structures and chains of command. Therefore, they won’t react positively to outright rebellion or disrespect from junior employees.
ESFJs thrive on teamwork, and this trait renders them valuable, productive, and dedicated employees. They’re willing to pitch in whenever necessary and can use their exceptional networking skills to bolster their company’s reputation and help attract new, talented team members. However, because ESFJs prefer structure and clearly-delineated rules of operation, they sometimes struggle with freeform work environments. Also, managers of ESFJs would be wise to remember that people of this personality type crave positive reinforcement, and a bit of clear, unambiguous praise goes a long way toward solidifying a strong track record of work performance.
How to find the right career for your strengths and weaknesses as an ESFJ
If you’re an ESFJ on the job hunt, your search will be well-served by cataloging and considering your personality-based strengths and inclinations. First of all, recognizing the fact that ESFJs vastly prefer to work in social environments will help you focus in on appropriate career choices; working in an isolated atmosphere (like working from home as a freelancer or accepting a solo research position in a remote location) won’t play to your natural strengths as an ESFJ. Instead, seek out roles that encourage team collaboration and exposure to the public.
Because ESFJs possess a powerful command of socialization, the interview process can be an excellent platform to showcase your conversational abilities. However, ESFJs can also become overly concerned with how they’re perceived by others, occasionally resulting in disingenuous, “people-pleasing” behaviors. When interviewing for a job, it’s crucial to avoid performative, conciliatory actions and to remain discerning. After all, the interview isn’t an audition; it’s a chance for you to discover whether the role and the company suit you.
Best ESFJ career choices
Public-facing jobs with convivial workplace environments and a solid sense of order and procedure especially appeal to ESFJ candidates. A few prime examples of ESFJ-friendly professions include:
Real estate agent
The communicative and personable ESFJ is a natural fit for many sales-related roles, including guiding clients through the purchase and sale of homes and properties. Real estate agents must be talkative, but also must have the ability to adjust their social behaviors to best fit the comfort level of their clients, a necessity well-matched to the ESFJ’s intuitive nature. Although real estate often involves flexibility, it also requires clear methodology and timetables, from scheduling tours to moderating negotiations. These boundaries suit the ESFJ’s logistical side. Because ESFJs like to work in groups, larger real estate companies with teams of agents may prove a stronger fit for this personality type than a solo real estate endeavor.
Between coordinating with administrators, communicating with parents, devising lesson plans appropriate for the classroom, and taking time with each student to address his or her educational needs, teachers must have both a talent for collaboration and a love of teamwork. ESFJs take a deep personal interest in their work, giving them the mental and emotional investments necessary to effectively impart lessons and set students up for success.
Public relations account executive
For a successful publicist, an outgoing personality is absolutely essential. The ESFJ’s social-butterfly status will serve her well in this field, and because public relations executives frequently work in teams, the ability to closely collaborate with both colleagues and clients will align beautifully with her natural preferences and skills.
ESFJs are compassionate individuals with a notable capacity for identifying the needs of others. Therefore, nursing can be a harmonious fit for this personality type. Nurses frequently work together and alongside doctors and other medical professionals to customize care for patients, which corresponds wonderfully with the ESFJ’s empathetic nature and her fondness for teamwork.
The worst careers for the ESFJ personality type
ESFJs adore professional environments that allow them to work alongside others, and they also treasure discipline, hierarchical chains, and clear scheduling. For those reasons, jobs that involve erratic workloads, unpredictable timing, and isolated circumstances aren’t the best fit.
While the ESFJ’s talent for social interaction can make them effective networkers and journalists, the solitary and (comparatively) unstructured life of a freelancer doesn’t suit the ESFJ’s need for an organized schedule and regular engagement with coworkers. An office atmosphere fits the ESFJ personality far better than a work-from-home situation, but if freelance writing is the job of choice for an ESFJ individual, signing up for a coworking membership can help to offset the negative effects of working solo.
Like freelance journalists, software developers frequently work in isolated circumstances, which doesn’t bode especially well for the socially-inclined ESFJ. ESFJs are capable of sustained focus and data-centric tasks, but a prolonged assignment without regular first-hand communication with colleagues, clients, or managers will erode the ESFJ’s job satisfaction and, as a result, her productivity.
While the ESFJ’s forthright personality can seem useful for an actor, this career choice includes constant competition and criticism. Because ESFJs place significant importance on their social status and outside perceptions, the dog-eat-dog world of the professional actor can easily become overwhelming to those with this personality type.