ESFJ Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
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One of the more common personality types, there are quite a few notable ESFJ personalities in the world, including: Hugh Jackman, Jessica Biel, Ed Sheeran, Tyra Banks, Jason Segel, Jennifer Garner, Steve Harvey, Penelope Cruz, Danny Glover, and Dale Carnegie.
ESFJ stands for: extroversion (E), sensing (S), feeling (F), and judgment (J).
This personality type is one of the most well-liked personalities. They are simply popular people, as they’re always finding ways to make friends, set the tone of an event, support loved ones, and host get togethers or social gatherings. They’re focused on fun and heartfelt conversations, but also love to gossip and discuss more practical topics. Making up about 12 percent of the population, there’s a fair amount of popular ESFJs out there in the world.
If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and received the results of an ESFJ, then you may be wondering what this personality type says about you. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how can they be applied to your career? How might your personality affect your life and your livelihood?
Let’s see what being an ESFJ means for you!
ESFJ Personality Traits
“If I go to a party I don’t feel like I have to be in the centre. But I do find myself quite often being placed in that position. Even when I was younger at school, I would be asked to make a speech. I don’t remember putting up my hand and all that often, but I’d just find myself there.” – Hugh Jackman
The MBTI test has 16 possible personality results, which determines your results based on the following:
- How you focus your attention or re-energize (extraversion (E) / introversion (I))
- How you perceive or take in information (sensing (S) / intuition (N))
- How you make decisions (thinking (T) / feeling (F))
- How you orient yourself to the outside world (judgment (J) / perception (P))
As an ESFJ, your results are as follows:
- You re-energize around other people and prefer to be surrounded by friends or groups of people — you feel comfortable in social situations (extraversion)
- You tend to be more concrete than abstract — you often focus your attention on the small details rather than the big picture, as well as focusing more on the immediate needs rather than future possibilities (sensing)
- You often give more weight to social implications than logic, especially in cases where personal considerations or feelings are concerned (feeling)
- You rely on controlling what you can by making decisions early, predicting outcomes, and sticking to plans — predictability is your preference over spontaneity (judgment)
Altruistic and Traditional
As an ESFJ, you’re drawn to doing the right thing in any scenario. You care deeply about your family and friends, and you are always eager to make sure you’re following your moral compass and never harming anyone you love. However, similar to your logical counterpart, ESTJs, you often base your beliefs or morality on traditions and laws. You respect and uphold authority and rules, and you’re not very inspired by philosophy or mysticism — although you may still enjoy the occasional horoscope reading. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be on the same page or have the same upbringing as you, and it can be difficult for you to remember that not everyone has the same worldview. Sometimes, this may make your altruistic desires seem a bit misguided, as those you love may have a different idea of what is “right.”
Authoritative and Supportive
Because of your traditional beliefs, you also place increased value on authority figures and classic hierarchies. You’re also often invested in becoming an authority figure yourself — whether for your career, friendships, or family. You’re loyal and devoted to those you love, but you also enjoy upholding rules and keeping your environment organized and stable. There’s no better way to do that than to become a rule enforcer yourself. Plus, you love to be a supportive figure to others. You enjoy hearing from friends and relatives, asking them about their relationships, jobs, or activities, and you love to provide a shoulder for others to lean on when in need of emotional support. You can easily notice when some people are feeling tense or angry, and you can effortlessly restore peace and security to a previously agitated group discussion.
Flourishing in Fun, but Avoiding Conflict
You love social gatherings, and you often host parties of your own just so you can spend time around those you love. You’re outgoing and invested in your relationships, and you flourish when you can be in a fun and engaging environment. However, you’re rather averse to conflict. You’re much more interested in creating and maintaining order, and when others may reject your ideas or show disinterest, you can feel personally hurt. You may not argue or disagree with the opposing party — as you have no interest in starting a fight — but you may harbor those feelings inside and struggle with your self-esteem. You put a lot of effort into creating fun and showing love and support in all your relationships, and your sensitivity to criticism and rejection can be your biggest challenge to overcome. It’s important to remember that although others might not be interested in your idea, that doesn’t mean they’re not interested in you. If you’re lucky, you may be able to surround yourself with people that appreciate all you do for them, and then you can flourish knowing that you’re doing your best while being a positive role model for those you love.
ESFJ Financial Habits
As a natural leader, you will most likely make a healthy income as an ESFJ. This can be helpful when it comes to your personal finances, but that doesn’t mean you’re a natural financial planner. Because of your inherent attraction to traditions, you oftentimes struggle with change and new ideas. You may be a bit inflexible when it comes to making adjustments to your finances, and that can be detrimental to your overall wealth. Both your inclination to be loyal, as well as stubborn, can compel you to cling onto financial plans long after they’ve proven to be unsuccessful or costly.
Sticking to Plans and Backup Plans
You’re an exceptional planner and very well organized, so creating a plan and sticking with it is something you can do easily. For some finance decisions, this can be a positive trait. Unfortunately, not all plans prove fruitful. However, you can easily overcome this by making an effort to create backup plans — either before the issue at hand gets worse, or when you are first making plans for a big financial decision. Consider all the ways in which your plan can go awry, and make a plan B or even a plan C. The more prepared you can be, the easier it will be to abandon a failed project and make a transition to try to remedy the situation.
ESFJ Strengths and Weaknesses
“I’m strong and opinionated. Those qualities brought me a lot of problems since I was a little girl in school, saying ‘I don’t agree’ and fighting with the children. It’s part of my curiosity for life.” – Penelope Cruz
Of course, just as with any other MBTI personality type, your personality comes with its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Here are the pros and cons to having an ESFJ personality:
Loyal and High Emotional Intelligence
As an outgoing and social individual, you’re an extremely vital pillar of your community. Not only are you eager to support your friends and family, but you also are drawn to tradition and upholding social norms. You’re loyal and want to prove it, and many people may rely on you in times of need, or just to be a secure presence in their life. You highly value how others perceive you, and so you’re always hopeful to make a good impression. You’re also more in tuned with your personal emotions and the emotions of others: a positive trait in leadership, useful for reading a room and finding “win-win” solutions, and important when being an emotional supportive person when others need it.
Practical and Dutiful
Your attraction to tradition also means you’re not someone that is easily bored by routine: you actively seek it out. You’re not going to be discouraged by household chores or paperwork as some other personalities may be; you see each piece of maintenance as an essential part of caring for those you love. You’re also driven by a strong sense of duty and responsibility, mostly because you’re worried about letting down those closest to you. How others perceive you is important to you, and so you’re willing to put in the work to meet your obligations, prove your practicalness, loyalty, and more.
Social and Warm
Again, you care about how others perceive, and much of that concern is what drives you forward. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: humans are social creatures, and you’re very invested in fulfilling that part of your human nature. You want to belong, and you often do. This also just makes you a general warm and charismatic person to be around, and you can easily be found at the center of social circles, the pillar of your family, and the most well-liked member of your class. Small talk is no issue for you, and you can make even the most introverted of your friends feel supported and loved.
Shallow and Needy
Unfortunately, your concern about how others see you can also be an unhealthy obsession. You may preoccupy yourself too much with trying to impress or stay in the good graces of others, that you may limit your own creativity and abilities entirely. You are also constantly needing the validation and compliments of others. If you feel as if your efforts have gone unnoticed, you may start to become discouraged, and even begin to fish for compliments in a more desperate fashion.
Inflexible and Reluctant to Change
Just as you’re concerned about how others see you, you’re also concerned about social norms and the status quo. You place high value on social acceptance, and you’re not comfortable around unconventional ideas or people. You may even try to push your own beliefs too hard onto other people in an effort to set a boundary or establish an idea as “mainstream.” You also try your best to fit into the “mainstream” of culture, and you’re fearful of appearing weird or different to others. You like to stick to plans and traditions, and veering from that can be really good in certain circumstances, but you often see it as potential for you to fail and become a punchline at others expense.
Selfless and Defensive
Because of your obsession for acceptance, and you’re willingness to work hard to win over everyone’s good side, you oftentimes sacrifice yourself in the process. You can be so preoccupied with the needs of others, that your own personal needs slide, and your self-worth and emotions can slowly dwindle. It’s difficult to know how to take care of yourself when you’re so accustomed to taking care of others, but self-care is something you should try to invest in from time to time. Additionally, you’re very vulnerable and defensive when others critique you. You actively try to avoid conflict, and when other criticize you for your beliefs or habits, you can feel personally attacked and hurt. It’s important to remember that people are not always trying to personally hurt you when they’re critiquing you, even if their delivery comes across as such.
Best ESFJ Personality Careers
“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” – Dale Carnegie
As an ESFJ, you’re devoted to others and traditions, and you’re both organized and sympathetic. All these traits can make you an exceptional leader in your industry, but that doesn’t mean your only calling is within management. There are many paths your career can take, but the biggest key for you is to work in a field that aligns well with your belief system and values. Once you can find a calling, dedicate yourself, and stick with it, you may find that you can be extremely successful over time.
However, just like any other personality, your career options are not limited to the results of a personality quiz. ESFJs can perform well in any industry, and the trick is to play off your natural talents to find a calling that best suits you and to stick with it to become an expert. No matter what your MBTI result maybe, there’s a future for you down many different career paths.
Best Career Matches for ESFJ Types
Similar to ISFJs, ESFJs are the cornerstone of the workforce. Not only are you drawn to upholding traditions and values, but you’re also eager to serve and help others. When you’re in an environment that can harness your strengths, and those you work with show appreciation for what you do, you can flourish.
Luckily for you, the more tedious sides of work are not an issue for you, as you understand that even those small tasks are essential to creating a stellar final product. You also don’t mind predictable work. You’re a natural fit to many human-interacting jobs, such as clerical, administrative, customer-service, or managerial work. You’re someone that thrives off of positive feedback, and working in an environment that not only provides feedback from either managers or clients, but also has a traditional hierarchical structure is often attractive to you.
You’re a practical and dependable worker, and you’re a great team player. You can both listen to the needs of others, as well as delegate tasks and take charge when it’s needed. You’re enthusiastic and charismatic, which can help you earn a valuable positive reputation around the office. You’re also altruistic, which means you’re eager to help others and provide value to individuals through your work. All of these traits combined make ESFJs impressive and essential workers in the modern workforce.
Other things that ESFJs look for in a career include:
- Clear guidelines and expectations for success
- Emotional feedback and human interaction from those you work with: whether management, clients, customers, students, or coworkers
- Friendly and well-structured environment that is free of conflict or uncertainty
- Opportunities to organize work or people, as you thrive in structure
- Working in teams that are action-oriented and conscientious, as well as share your values and drive
Some of the most fitting careers for ESFJs include the following:
- Administrative Office Support, Business, and Human Resources: Because you are naturally drawn to human interaction, and because of your high emotional intelligence and ability to find practical solutions for others, ESFJs are a perfect fit for many front-facing office jobs. Whether you’re a receptionist for a busy lawyer, or you’re working within human resources for a small company, you can fit many of your natural talents into these positions. Keep in mind, although business is a very broad industry, not all business jobs will be best for you. Primarily, you’ll want to focus on jobs that allow for one-on-one time with clients, coworkers, or customers (such as a CPA), so that you can flex your social muscles while also remaining organized and finding ideal solutions to any problem within your wheelhouse.
- Administrative Office Support
- Customer Service Representative or Manager
- Office Manager
- Certified Personal Accountant (CPA)
- Event Coordinator
- Human Resources
- Corporate Trainer
- Human Resource Manager or Specialist
- Public Relations Manager
- Administrative Office Support
- Education: As an empathetic and well-liked individual, teaching can be a natural calling for many ESFJs. Many school systems are built on traditions, and require organized and kind teachers. Within school administration, you have the ability to uphold rules, create order within the school, solve conflicts between students, teachers, or parents, and show empathy to any student that needs it. Everyday you can feel as if you’ve made a difference in someone’s life: whether a student, coworker, or parent. Your drive and altruistic nature will fit perfectly within the education industry.
- Child Care Provider
- Elementary Teacher
- School Administrator
- Special Education Teacher
- Healthcare and Counseling: Another natural fit for ESFJs is healthcare and counseling. Just as with ISFJs, you’re drawn to this industry because of its rich traditions and slow-changing structure, but you also have the opportunity to work with patients to help them recover from any medical ailment. Your extroverted and empathetic nature mean you have the ability to showcase perfect bedside manner that’s essential to nursing. Similarly, within counseling you can utilize your strong listening and empathy skills to help people recover from trauma and self-doubt. Every day you can make a difference in the lives of others, and many people will be grateful for your kindness and help.
- Dentist or Dental Hygienist
- Family Physician
- Fitness Trainer
- Healthcare Administrator
- Medical Assistant
- Physical Therapist
- Physician Assistant
- Radiation Therapist
- Respiratory Therapist
- Speech Pathologist
- Counselor or Therapist
- Social Worker
- Legal and Protective Services: Although not all legal and protective service jobs will be right for you, you can still find a calling within the courtroom and many police departments. Empathy is an often missing but essential element to police work, and with your social, listening, and problem solving skills, you can make an organized and kind civil servant. Within the courtroom, you can utilize your organization skills to keep detailed and practical notes about proceedings, or even work one-on-one with clients to help them find a legal solution for their problem. Plus, both of these environments are rich with tradition and are well structured, helping you feel secure within your position.
- Court Reporter
- Police Officer
- Sales and Other Trades: Finally, if none of the above callings are speaking to you, then you could always go into sales or other trades, as well. Within sales, you can utilize your charisma to become a top-earner in almost any sales-related industry: from insurance to real estate. You’re also an exceptional listener, which means you can hear the needs of your customer, think of solutions, and work to find the best possible plan for your customer. Within the other trades, you can be anything from a hotel manager to a minister or cosmetologist. The sky’s the limit, as long as you keep your strengths and weaknesses in mind.
- Advertising Sales Agent
- Insurance Agent
- Merchandise Planner
- Real Estate Agent
- Real Estate Appraiser
- Other Trades
- Funeral Director
- Hotel Manager
- Technical Writer
Highest Paying ESFJ Careers
ESFJs are often some of the top earners in the working world. They may not be as innovative as INTPs or as ambitious as ENTJs, but you still harbor many of the desirable qualities of the modern worker. In fact, many of your natural strengths and talents can help contribute to your paycheck: from your enthusiasm for tradition and sticking to plans, to being an empathetic and attentive team leader. Emotional intelligence, in particular, can help you earn the respect and trust of any employee that works alongside you.
As a charismatic, empathetic, and organized person, ESFJs naturally fit within many leadership positions. Luckily, this means you can become a high-earner, simply by showcasing your strengths and dedicating yourself to your chosen industry. With time, you can eventually work your way up the corporate ladder.
Many ESFJs can earn high paychecks within management, but some of the most fruitful trades may be real estate, healthcare, business, accounting, and sales. However, your drive isn’t often focused on making money and succeeding, so much as just getting an opportunity to work and help others. If you can earn a high-paycheck in the process it’s only an added bonus, instead of a main motivating factor to your work.
ESFJ Careers to Avoid
“I’m all about zagging when everyone else is zigging.” – Tyra Banks
It should be noted that ESFJs — or any other personality, for that matter — can succeed in any career. However, there are some careers that might better match your personal talents, mode of thinking, or natural behavior. If your career is not playing off your natural inclinations, then you could find that job draining, unappealing, or might even suffer from burnout. It could be that you need to quit your job and switch career paths.
ESFJs do not like working in quiet and secluded offices with no human contact, and aren’t very comfortable with abstract concepts or sudden change. Because of this, you would be confused or overwhelmed working in a rapidly evolving field such as marketing, and you would hate working as a business auditor with very little face-to-face time with others. Lastly, you flourish in stable and traditionally-built environments, so less structured businesses (such as technology start ups) would be much too volatile for you.
In general, ESFJs would not enjoy working in these positions or fields:
- Airline Pilot
- Computer Programmer
- Electrical Engineer
- Investment Banker
- Mechanical Engineer
- Power Plant Operator
- Recreation Worker
- Social Scientist
- Software Developer
- Tech Support Specialist
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Katie McBeth is a researcher and writer out of Boise, ID, with experience in marketing for small businesses and management. Her favorite subject of study is millennials, and she has been featured on Fortune Magazine and the Quiet Revolution. She researches SEO strategies during the day, and freelances at night. You can follow her writing adventures on Instagram or Twitter: @ktmcbeth
This post was updated July 5, 2018. It was originally published July 7, 2018.