ESFP Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid

Katie McBeth  | 

There are many famous ESFPs in the world, including: Steve Irwin, Adele, Jamie Foxx, Marilyn Monroe, Adam Levine, Serena Williams, Andy Samberg, Dolly Parton, Deepak Chopra, and Nicki Minaj.

ESFP stands for: extroversion (E), sensing (S), feeling (F), and perception (P).

Commonly known as “entertainers” or “performers”, ESFPs are charismatic, social, and creative people. They make up about 8 to 9 percent of the population, and they love to shine in the spotlight — seeing the whole world as one big stage. They can easily get caught up in the excitement of an event, and break out into song and dance at a moment’s notice. They are energetic, generous, encouraging, and irresistible to be around.

If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment, 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 ESFP means for you!

ESFP Personality Traits

“I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.” – Steve Irwin

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 ESFP, 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 tend to withhold judgement or put off important decisions, preferring instead to keep your options open so that you don’t limit your possibilities should your circumstances change (perception)

Charismatic and Entertaining

It’s no wonder that most of Hollywood is filled with ESFPs: you are one of the most social and charismatic personalities out there. You enter every room with a flare, and you can be both witty and observant in any conversation. You’re also very drawn to new ideas, particularly in your personal style. You enjoy aesthetically pleasing fashion and designs, and your curiosity can help you make brave fashion choices that always stun a crowd. However, you don’t always have to be partying. For you, feeling fulfilled can be as simple as having a fun time with your best group of friends.

Sensitive and Supportive

Despite appearances, ESFPs are not inherently self-centered people. As you well know, you’re very sensitive to the emotions of others and are always willing and able to help during difficult times. If a friend has a challenge ahead of them, you will eagerly offer practical advice and emotional support to help them through it. However, you’re also eager to avoid any potential conflict for yourself. Although you love the spotlight, you avoid it at all costs when you’re facing your own challenges, as you’re not one to enjoy being criticized.

Irresponsable and Optimistic

Even though you may be an engaging and interesting person, that doesn’t mean you have your whole life figured out. Unfortunately, ESFPs can oftentimes struggle with the small, daily tasks that help you get by: whether that’s in managing your finances or doing the small but necessary steps in your career that can help you advance to a new level. You’re easily bored with routine maintenance, and you can often neglect your duties and responsibilities, instead just hoping that with luck you will come out O.K. You’re simply not as equipped to make long-term plans as other personalities, and you can very easily live beyond your means by not paying attention to the details. However, you’ll always be an optimistic and entertaining person to be around, and your friends may cherish you for your laughter and eagerness to try new things.

ESFP Financial Habits

Expensive Habits

You love the finer things in life: from fashion to interior design, and from entertaining guests to going out on the town with best friends. You’re often focused on entertainment value, rather than the actual financial cost of participating or purchasing experiences. Unfortunately, your inability to make long-term plans, and your general avoidance of routine, means you can very easily spend beyond your limit. ESFPs can make many poor financial decisions, and you should probably avoid applying for credit cards with high limits, unless you have some plan in place to pay them off and you’re conscious of your balance.

Challenge Yourself

Besides your immediate financial situation, you’re also not very equipped to make long-term plans for yourself. This can mean your retirement plan or investments can become neglected, or forgotten altogether. Even worse yet, you may fail to set up a retirement plan at an early age, simply because the paperwork bored you, or you forgot to follow through on your duties. Luckily, you’re someone that can enjoy challenges, and if you can see your long-term financial plans as a fun challenge, then you may be able to create a lasting strategy that works for you.

The Buddy System

Better yet, if you have friends or a partner in life that can help you stay accountable, then you can lean on them when you feel confused, bored, or downtrodden. Perhaps you can even ask them to accompany you to financial courses that help you learn more about controlling your wallet and investments.

Don’t be like many celebrities in Hollywood who neglected their finances. No matter what, being practical about your finances is a must, and ESFPs need to keep your budget and future fiscal plans in mind.

ESFP Strengths and Weaknesses

“I’ve always been the type of person to make everybody happy and get things done. I want everything to be 100% perfect.” – Nicki Minaj

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 ESFP personality:

ESFP Pros

Unique and Bold

For ESFPs, breaking the traditional mold is not just a fun challenge, but a way of life. You fully embrace new styles, and you love to experiment with your physical look or your mode of thinking. You’re artistic and creative, especially when it comes to your outward appearance, and you’re not afraid to stick out from the crowd. You’re also a very bold personality: eager to challenge yourself and experience everything the world has to offer. You are constantly stepping out of your comfort zone, and many of your friends may admire you for your willingness to try new things and your general bravery.

Fashionable and Inspiring

Your unique and bold choices often shine in your wardrobe and home. You see value in having a well designed life, and although it can be dangerous for you to overspend, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of splendor. You also can interject your creativity in other areas, such as you conversations or actions. It’s easy for you to see any opportunity to take the stage or steal the spotlight, and almost everyday is a performance. Because of your loud and proud outward expression, many others may be inspired by your choices, words, and showmanship.

Practical, Empathetic, and Observant

However, you’re not someone to take the emotions of others for granted. You have been blessed with a high emotional intelligence, and you have exceptional and observant people skills. As an ESFP, you rely heavily on your strong feeling-over-thinking side, and can easily read the tone of a room, or dive deeper into the motivations of individuals. You’re also a very supportive person, and many of your friends may be grateful for your practical advice and warm personality.

You don’t get caught up in philosophical questions or musings, as you’re much more interested in the physical possibilities of the world — which means you’re much more likely to act than you are to deliberate over “what-ifs.” However, you’re also observant of your environment, and you can easily pick up on changes (whether physical or emotional) within a room or person. In life, your greatest joy is simply being around people that you love, and you can easily hold a witty and entertaining conversation with almost anyone.

ESFP Cons

Sensitive and Averse to Conflict

Unfortunately, although ESFPs have a high emotional intelligence, you can often become too sensitive when others criticize you. You’re very vulnerable to criticism, and you try to avoid conflict in your life at all costs. If someone does come to you with a negative comments, you may feel cornered and lash out in an inappropriate way. Additionally, if conflict is inevitable, you may ignore the issue or avoid your responsibilities altogether. You’re much more interested in having fun than feeling bad for a poor decision. However, conflict and criticism are sometimes necessary for growth and personal betterment. Instead of avoiding it, you should try to work on accepting it and using it as a learning experience. Once you can get through the issue at hand, life can be much easier going forward.

Easily Bored and Unfocused

You’re someone that thrives in the spotlight and craves excitement. Unfortunately, that means routine and repetition are boring to you. Without your brain being constantly engaged, you can easily slip into boredom, and may even seek out risky behaviors just to stay excited. Anything that requires your attention or dedication for an extended period of time — such as academics, financial planning, or other important tasks — may be hard for you to focus on. The trick is for you to find enjoyment in the small daily tasks that lead to a completed and finalized product. If you can make it through even the most tedious tasks, then you will certainly be rewarded at the end.

Bad Planner

Of course, you’re also not gifted with the ability to make long-term plans. You’re much more interested in living in the moment and taking things as they come to you. This can be useful if you do make initial plans but circumstances force them to change, as you’ll be much more prepared to readjust. However, when it comes to making long-term commitments, you may fail to properly consider all the consequences and steps needed to see the project to completion.

Best ESFP Personality Careers

“Everyone’s dream can come true if you just stick to it and work hard.” – Serena Williams

As an ESFP, you’re eager to inspire others and challenge yourself. You’re also well accustomed to change, excitement, and practical solutions. It would be best for you to avoid jobs that require tedious small tasks or routine maintenance, as they won’t be able to hold your attention for very long. Despite the fact that you’re a poor planner, you may find that one job is capable of holding your attention for years, as it can provide you with the excitement you crave and the spotlight that you seek. As with all other personalities, the biggest key for you is to work in a field that aligns well with your personal 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. ESFPs 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 ESFP Types

Much like a highly sensitive person or empath, ESFPs can often reflect the mood of your environment. You’re very aware of the emotions of others and of a room, and if you notice a change in mood, you can easily adapt. However, in a working environment, this can mean you need to avoid working in overly pessimistic environment, and instead try to find a job where everyone can match your level of enthusiasm for life.

ESFPs are also social people, so you’ll most likely enjoy a job that provides you with the opportunity to work closely with others. This can make you a natural fit for many leadership positions, as your strong interpersonal skills mixed with your charisma make you an attractive team leader. You strive to make a memorable impression on anyone you meet, and so customer service oriented jobs are also ideal for you. You can also be an excellent event or trip planner: listening to the needs of others and organizing the perfect unforgettable trip or event for them. You’re also very good at finding practical solutions for personal challenges at a moment’s notice, making you a perfect fit for emergency response, social work, and healthcare careers.

Of course, you also have a very colorful and creative side, and you may want to focus your career less on your emotional abilities and more on your imaginative side. In this way, you can excel in the arts and entertainment industry, becoming a famous musician or talented actor.

Other things that ESFPs look for in a career include:

  • Environment that is social and active, preferably with like-minded coworkers
  • Environment that is well designed and aesthetically pleasing
  • Hands-on duties with the potential for action and fun
  • Little to no bureaucracy or strict rules
  • Real, tangible results for projects, with little to no long-term planning
  • Recognition and appreciation for the work you do, whether from management or clients

Some of the best careers for ESFP types include:

  • Art, Performance, and Design: Whether you’re a cosmetologist — trained to see the beauty in everything — or an accomplished actor, working within the arts, performance, and design fields is a perfect fit for many ESFPs. Not only do you have the opportunity to work off your creative and imaginative side, but you also get to work with a plethora of other people, many of which may share your personality. No matter what course you take, there is potential for you to utilize your practical skills, be an empathetic listener, and show a flare for the dramatic in whatever you do or create.
    • Art and Performance
      • Actor
      • Artist
      • Chef
      • Cosmetologist
      • Jeweler
      • Musician
      • Photographer
    • Design
      • Fashion Designer or Costume Designer
      • Floral Designer
      • Interior Designer
      • Landscape Architect, Manager, or Gardener
  • Business, Public Relations, and Sales: In general, ESFPs don’t do well with strict structures and bureaucracy, but that doesn’t mean the world of business, PR, and sales is completely off limits to you. There are many specific callings within these industries that can play off your talents, provide you with new and engaging tasks, and help you make memorable connections with clients and coworkers. Within PR, you can serve as the face of the company and can create a positive image for the outside world to see. Within business, you can be anything from a trainer to an event coordinator, and can use your practicality and empathy to positively influence those around you. Within sales, your charisma can help you become a memorable and successful salesperson within any industry.
    • Business and Public Relations
      • Consulting Agent
      • Corporate Trainer
      • Event Coordinator
      • Merchandise Planner
      • Public Relations Manager or Specialist
      • Receptionist
      • Retail Manager
    • Sales
      • Buyer
      • Insurance Agent
      • Real Estate Agent
      • Retail Salesperson
      • Travel Agent
  • Education and Social Work: As an ESFP, you have both the practicality and empathy needed to be a skilled educator or counselor. Although not all teaching positions will be right for you, there are plenty of opportunities to shine within education, and you may find that you’ve become a school favorite just by being who you are: energetic, kind, funny, and fashionable. As a counselor, you can also use your skills to listen to the problems of others, face challenges, find solutions, and remain positive so people feel better after being in your presence.
    • Education
      • Child Care Provider
      • Elementary Teacher
      • Special Education Teacher
    • Social Work
      • Residential Counselor
      • Social Worker
  • Healthcare: You also have the practicality and kindness necessary to have superb bedside manner, making you a perfect candidate for the healthcare industry. As an ESFP in healthcare, you can be resourceful and passionate about the people you’re helping. Plus, all your projects will be hands on, and you may face many tense emotions that you are well equipped to handle. Whether you pursue a more specialized medicine, or just work as a general practice nurse, you can excel within the healthcare industry.
    • Dentist or Dental Hygienist
    • Dietitian
    • Fitness Trainer
    • Massage Therapist
    • Nurse
    • Occupational Therapist
    • Paramedic
    • Pediatrician
    • Physical Therapist
    • Physician Assistant
    • Veterinary Assistant
  • Protective Services and Other Trades: Finally, if none of the above industries inspire you, then you can always work in a more intense field such as emergency response or protective services,or within a host of other random trades. Your social skills, practicality, empathy, and resourcefulness can come in handy within almost any field, as long as it’s not too burdened down with strict rules and tedium. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re keeping your strengths and weaknesses in mind to find the perfect calling for your personality.
    • Protective Services
      • Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
      • Firefighter
      • Police Officer
    • Other Trades
      • Animal Trainer
      • Farmer or Rancher
      • Flight Attendant
      • Personal Trainer
      • Restaurant Host
      • Tour Guide or Recreation Worker

Highest Paying ESFP Careers

As mentioned earlier, one of the areas where ESFP might struggle is in your financial life. Luckily, there are quite a few callings out there that can help you earn a healthy paycheck to support your semi-lavish lifestyle. However, even if you do get into acting or some other high-paying career, you should still be mindful about your spending.

ESFPs are natural fits for many leadership positions — especially due to your charisma, empathy, and practicality — and many managerial spots are top earning positions within the business. All it will take is you dedicating yourself to that business to earn the respect and admiration needed to win over your peers and bosses. When you feel you’re ready for management, you can eventually hint to your boss that you’re eager for a promotion.

However, if you’re not interested in pursuing leadership positions, you can work in a more independent setting as a successful salesperson or as an independent consulting agent. Either position has the potential for you to earn a decent living, and many salespeople also have the added bonus of commission for sales. With your social nature and your ability to listen to the needs of others, you can easily build up a strong clientele that will help keep your business going for years to come.

Finally, you can also work within the arts, design, and entertainment industry, although this one is notoriously tricky to earn a decent paycheck in. It may take you years before you get the “break” that will help you become a household name, but luckily you have the drive and dedication to pursue your passions if you feel inclined. Just be sure to be conscious of the time and energy that will be needed to get you through the first few years of building your personal brand. Even if you aren’t great at making long-term plans, it can be beneficial to try to plan your career path within these industries. Eventually, you’ll be able to work your way into the industry, and possibly earn a high paying position for your hard work.

ESFP Careers to Avoid

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.” – Deepak Chopra

It should be noted that ESFPs — 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.

ESFPs don’t work well in environments that make them feel trapped or confined. You enjoy freedom and the ability to work on tasks in the moment. Because of this, more detail-oriented jobs, such as engineering or technology, might be too tedious and mundane for you. Although you love to be creative, you’re not the sort of person to enjoy all the small steps necessary to build well-crafted machines or engines. Additionally, bureaucracy can often hamper your creative side, so working within administration may be difficult for you. You also crave human interaction, so working in a cooped-up office building, punching in numbers and data might be extremely boring for your personality. You need to be social, and you love to work with people. You’re also not one to be held back by strict schedules, repetition, or overbearing bosses, which may further limit your career opportunities.

In general, ESFPs would not enjoy working within these industries or positions:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Airline Pilot
  • Auditor
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • College Professor
  • Economist
  • English Teacher
  • Family Physician
  • Judge
  • Management Consultant
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • School Administrator
  • Systems Analyst
  • 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 10, 2018. It was originally published July 10, 2018.