INFJ Personality Traits, Career Matches, and Jobs to Avoid
If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and received the results of an INFJ, then you’re aligned with such personalities as Carrie Fisher, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Cate Blanchett, Jamie Foxx, and Bob Dylan.
INFJ stands for: introversion (I), intuition (N), feeling (F), and judgement (J).
INFJs are soft-spoken, but extremely driven and thoughtful. They can be both quiet and reserved, as well as very opinionated and passionate about their ideas. Many INFJs use their inherent abilities to help other people, and believe that their calling lies in rescue efforts, charities, or similar endeavors.
Only about 1 percent of the population is believed to be an INFJ, which makes this personality the rarest MBTI result. This comes with the unique benefit of being in high demand, but also the difficulty of not being able to easily find people that you can relate to.
If you’ve received the INFJ characterization by the MBTI assessment, then you may be wondering how you can apply this information to your career. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and how can your unique and rare characteristics be used to your advantage?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Table of Contents
INFJ Personality Traits
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela
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 INFJ, your results are as follows:
- You tend to be more quiet and reserved, you prefer small groups of friends over large circles of friends, and you expend energy in social situations, but recharge when by yourself (introversion)
- You tend to think in abstract concepts, or think more “big picture” and don’t worry about the small details — often concentrating on a final product instead of individual tasks that lead to its completion (intuition)
- 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)
INFJs have multiple monikers, including: “the Counselor”, “the Diplomat”, or “the Advocate.” All of these names relate to the fact that you’re someone who not only is in tune with your feelings and emotions, but is also willing and able to take action and help others when they need it. Chances are, you see helping others as your calling — or you at least find a higher level of fulfillment when you do.
INFJs seek out chances to learn more about themselves or others, and thrive when they can have meaningful relationships. You see problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions. You also have a more well-rounded understanding of personal motivations (either your own or others), which means you can be adaptable to social situations. Your interaction with others can appear outgoing, and some may mistake you for extroverted simply because you’re genuinely invested in learning about others. However, you’re also a true introvert, and need your alone time when you can get it.
Because of your introverted tendencies, you may also be more inclined to work behind the scenes. You don’t need to take the spotlight to feel appreciated and proud of your work. You may also be very independent, but you love to make close personal connections and to learn or better understand the inner workings of others. You’re also deeply interested in bettering humanity in some way.
Slow Relationship Builder
Your mind is full of rich and creative ideas, but you’re deeply concerned with your relationships with others. However, INFJs can also be slow to build meaningful relationships, and you might also withdraw on occasion as a way to preserve yourself or to set boundaries. This can come off as confusing to others, and may result in hurt feelings — despite your intentions.
Of course, personalities are always subject to change. As you grow and have different experiences, you may find some traits change to match your evolving life or worldview.
INFJ Strengths and Weaknesses
“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed, or it should have a capital and its own currency.” – Carrie Fisher
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 INFJ personality:
Because your personality is so closely tied to your emotions, INFJs can have an extremely high emotional intelligence. You are always curious of people’s intentions, and are aware of how emotions can impact and influence different people.
You are also altruistic, since your strengths are often used to better the lives of others. You believe strongly in your morals and are devout to causes that speak to you. However, you don’t make decisions lightly or selfishly, as you realize that your decisions can have a much larger impact. You take action with the intention of better the lives or others or the world.
Additionally, because you are so driven to causes or your morals, you are extremely passionate and outspoken about them. For some, this can come off as intimidating or obsessive, but INFJs understand that you’re convicted and dedicated to what you believe in. You will not stay quiet if you believe something is wrong, and you’re not afraid to challenge the status quo if it means standing up for your cause. Separating yourself from your cause is also not something you are capable of doing: your cause is a part of your identity and personality.
The combination of being intuitive and in-tuned with your feelings means you’re also an extremely creative person. You may use your strong imagination and compassion to solve human issues. Whereas other personalities (such as ENTJs) use their intuition to solve technical puzzles and problems, you’re more invested in solving human puzzles. This can make you a perfect advisor or counselor to people, or an extremely important close friend to have. It is also why INFJs are often referred to as “counselors.”
Additionally, your creative and intuitive nature pairs well with your drive to see projects through to the end. You don’t just imagine a solution and talk about it, but you take actionable steps and follow through with willpower and conviction.
To the Point
INFJs are also highly aware of ulterior motives and manipulation — which is most likely due to your high emotional intelligence. This can mean you’re uninterested in traditional sale-pitches or fake and manipulative personalities, because you’re more interested in having honest and heartfelt discussions with people. You’re not one for small talk, and you’re not one to beat around the bush.
When it comes to your public-facing persona, INFJs are very inspiring and passionate people. You may be a writer or orator that can use beautiful and idealist language to deliver your message; as long as you’re passionate about the subject being discussed.
Although INFJs are eager to learn more about others and emotionally invest in other people, you may be more inclined to be private about your personal life. In fact, INFJs tend to be very closed off, except with their most trusted partners or friends. Instead, you want to present yourself as the culmination of an idea or cause, but rarely will you open up about your personal struggles or feelings. This can make it difficult to make new friends, or can even strain existing friendships if you feel overwhelmed or vulnerable.
Additionally, as a highly emotionally intelligent person, you can tend to be a bit more sensitive than other personalities. Whereas others might be able to take criticism or ignore complaints, you often take it directly to heart. You’re always worried about how other people think or feel about you — simply because personal intentions are what you think about all the time. Additionally, if anyone questions your motives or the cause that you believe in, you may retort in a harsh or alarming way. People may be taken aback by your response, and any sense of criticism may make you immediately resent that person.
INFJs are also perfectionists, and much of this is due to your idealistic nature. You may drop perfectly acceptable or healthy situations or relationships, simply because you believe there is a better option out there. Unfortunately, this characteristic can be damaging to your career, as you may find that you’ll quickly quit a job once you’ve lost interest or believe there’s something out there better for you. There’s nothing wrong with quitting a job when you’ve lost interest, but you should be sure you’re making the right decision, instead of acting off your typical natural inclinations.
It’s obvious that INFJs thrive when they’re working towards a cause, but unfortunately INFJs may struggle if there’s bureaucratic hurdles or administration in the way of you achieving your goal. This can mean that you’ll either feel lost, disappointed, or frustrated if you can’t take concrete steps to achieve your intended goal.
Prone to Burnout
Lastly, INFJs are very vulnerable to burnout, as you often give your all to the cause you believe in. With work, your close-knit relationships, your ideals or morals, your day-to-day life, and your lack of patience for routine, you may neglect your body’s need for self-care. Additionally, your extremely private nature can make if hard for you to reach out to others when you need to let off steam. Luckily, if you can find a way to balance all your daily activities alongside your ideals, you may be able to avoid the eventual burnout.
Best INFJ Personality Careers
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey
INFJs enjoy learning about other people, and are sometimes considered “counselors.” However, not all INFJ personalities have the emotional capacity to become a counselor, nor should you limit yourself to such a calling. INFJs can perform well in many different industries or professions — and even the jobs that are listed here might not be right for your individual career path. You can be successful in almost any calling — regardless of your MBTI results.
Best Career Matches for INFJ Types
INFJs work well in environments that provide you with the opportunity to turn your humanitarian dreams into a reality. Of course, not all INFJs have the ability or emotional capacity to work alongside humanitarian efforts. However, many INFJs thrive when you can have a hand in solving human problems and creating idealistic solutions.
INFJs also tend to be well organized, and many are independent in nature. You may prefer to work within an office that is quiet, organized, and can provide you with the tools you need to see your goals through to the end.
However, INFJs may also struggle to really start your career path, as your indecisive nature may show you a multitude of wildly different opportunities — each with their own alluring futures, but also requiring you to give up so much more. Because of this, you may find that every career on this list is alluring in some way, but you should only chase after the one that really speaks to you. You may find that if you stick with a career long enough, you’re able to succeed and earn a decent living — as long as you’re doing something that you love.
Other things that INFJs look for in their career include:
- Environments structured for positive change
- Working alongside their values
- Opportunities to help or connect with people (whether coworkers or clients)
- Consistent productivity
- Fostering creativity
- Opportunities for leadership or independence
- No competitive environments
Based on these features, some of the best jobs for INFJs include:
- Art, Humanities, and Language: INFJs do exceptionally well in the arts, as it plays off of both your creative side as well as your love for humanity. Additionally, INFJs can become skillful writers and creative speakers, which can mean a fruitful career in journalism or oration. Many of these career paths also offer you the ability to directly interact with and impact communities, or even be your own independent contractor or boss.
- Graphic Designer
- Interior Designer
- Public Motivational Speaker
- Technical Writer
- Business and Law: Although the corporate environment is not one that INFJs tend to enjoy, there are still many positions within business and law that can provide you with an excellent career. Traditionally, the most applicable jobs that match your skills will be in human resources, mediation, or counseling — the sort of roles that provide you with access to helping others and making a difference in their lives. Plus, receiving an education in business can give you the opportunity to lead your own consulting firm or small business — which plays off your inherent desires to be independent.
- Career Coach
- Corporate Trainer
- Human Resource Manager
- Environmental Attorney
- Family Attorney
- Legal Mediator
- Education: Education is a perfect calling for many INFJs, as you can play off your creativity, be independent in leading classrooms, and can create an emotional connection with your students. Despite the fact that teaching in front of a class is normally an extroverted activity, INFJs can still find enjoyment in helping both children and adults develop their skills and learn. If you’re too nervous to work in a classroom setting, there are also plenty of jobs within education that give you the opportunity to work one-on-one with students or work in small groups.
- Administrative Leader
- Elementary Teacher
- Guidance Counselor
- Special Education Teacher
- School Nurse or School Counselor
- Healthcare, Counseling, and Social Services: All of these professions require one thing that most INFJs have plenty of: empathy. Not only can INFJs use your inherent talents to help others in need, but you can also listen to struggles or issues, think critically about them, and deliver heartfelt and knowledgeable solutions if they’re warranted. All of these callings give you the opportunity to play off your intellect, find connection with a cause, help others, and solve human problems without meeting major barriers that can limit your impact and goals.
- Counseling and Social Work
- Clergy Member or Religious Counselor
- Social Worker
- Speech Therapist
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Medical Researcher
- Physician Assistant
- Physical therapist
- Sciences: Because INFJs feel deeply connected with a cause, many can enjoy a calling in the sciences. Plus, many of these careers can challenge you intellectually, which is rewarding for INFJs. Some of the most purposeful scientific careers include:
- Environmental Scientist or Conservationist
- Social Scientist
Highest Paying INFJ Careers
Many INFJs do not work to make a living — they work to find fulfillment in their lives. Because of this, INFJs tend to be low earners in their careers, and many don’t achieve more than a middle class income.
If you’re hoping to make a decent living, it can be difficult as an INFJ to find both a fulfilling job and one that pays you a higher wage. However, it’s not impossible, and many INFJs can work for years in the career path of their choosing and manage to rise to a top-earning position.
The key to making money — no matter what your personality — is to devote yourself to doing something that makes you feel fulfilled and challenges you to grow and learn. Over time, you’ll find that opportunities are presented to you — whether through promotions or recruitment efforts — and you should consider all your options before you take the leap.
Again, INFJs tend to have a difficult time finding a career path simply because your nature is to think of all the possibilities — both missed and gained — with every career decision. It can be hard to pass up excellent opportunities for growth, but if you keep your goals in mind (whatever they may be), you may find that over time you’re able to make a high wage and find fulfillment in everything you do.
INFJ Careers to Avoid
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan
It should be noted that INFJs — 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.
Some of the least fulfilling careers for INFJs are those that don’t provide them with the opportunity to help others, or that focus too heavily on meeting sales metrics and other competitive (but not human related) goals. It could also be that these jobs are draining for you because they require conflict or require you to take advantage of other people — such as in repossession work, military, or law enforcement. That’s not to say that INFJs can’t succeed as police officers, but that many may find that career path draining or conflicting with their personal value systems.
In general, these are the careers you should avoid as an INFJ personality type:
- Bill Collector or Repossessor
- Engineering Technician
- Factory Supervisor or Worker
- Financial Manager
- Medical Records Manager or Technician
- Military Officer or Recruiting
- Police Officer
- Property Manager
- Real Estate Broker
- Restaurant Manager
- Sales Manager or Salesperson
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 June 19, 2018. It was originally published May 21, 2018.