By Dr. A.J. Drenth
ENFPs are intelligent, creative, versatile, good with people, and can have a knack for entrepreneurship and leadership. The ENFP wants to find a career he or she is passionate about. Settling for a mediocre career choice seems unacceptable to this personality type. As for INFP career-seekers, money is rarely the prime motivator for ENFPs, who often downplay the importance of material comforts or possessions. Most would rather live frugally doing what they love than get rich performing unsatisfying work.
ENFP college students may struggle to identify a college major that can satisfy their broad interests and versatile abilities. Like ENTP career-seekers, their wide-ranging curiosity stems from their dominant personality function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). Both of these types like to explore a variety of options before making any permanent decisions about their career path. They often require plenty of experimentation and life experience in order to discover their deepest passion. Despite the challenge of zeroing-in on the right career, job, or college major, ENFPs can find satisfaction in a number of different career areas.
ENFP Holland Career / Code Interests
To orient our discussion of ENFP career interests, we will draw on six interest themes described by John Holland and the Strong Interest Inventory. The Holland interest themes include the Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C) domains, which are collectively referred to as the “RIASEC” model. After identifying one’s preferred interest domains, these letters can be combined in a way similar to the personality types to form a multi-letter “Holland Code” (e.g., IAS, RAI). This can help individuals identify their best career choice.
Individuals with Realistic interests enjoy physical, hands-on work. Realistics tend to enjoy working with “things” more than people. It is therefore not surprising that this interest domain is correlated with a preference for Thinking over Feeling. Research suggests that S, T, and P types are somewhat more drawn to Realistic work than are N, F, and J types.
As Perceivers, ENFPs are somewhat more inclined toward Realistic work than ENFJ career-seekers are. While Realistic interests are rarely foremost for ENFPs, they may opt to take up Artistic or Investigative work with a Realistic element. They may, for instance, pursue careers in landscape architecture. Various types of art may also entail a Realistic component that ENFPs find interesting.
The Investigative domain incorporates analytic, scientific, and academic interests. Investigative types enjoy working with ideas, theories, facts, or data. As with the Realistic domain, Thinkers outnumber Feelers when it comes to Investigative interests. Those who enjoy investigating “things” will generally have a Holland code of IR (Investigative-Realistic). They may study mathematics, the physical sciences, technology, engineering, computer science, etc.
In general, ENFPs shy away from the hard sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, etc.) in favor of the life (e.g., biology), health, or social sciences (history, economics, psychology, sociology, geography, anthropology, archeology, political science, etc.). ENFPs with IA interests may study the social sciences, philosophy, critical theory, theology, investigative journalism, or take up non-fiction writing. Investigative ENFPs may also pursue careers in journalism, research, or scholarship. Generally, law is not the best fit for ENFPs (law is better suited for T types, especially TJs).
Like Investigatives, those with Artistic interests often have an intellectual or cultural-orientation. The Artistic domain strongly correlates with Myers-Briggs Intuition, as well as, to a lesser extent, Feeling and Perceiving. It captures those with unconventional and creative interests, including actors, painters, dancers, poets, sculptors, writers, designers, and the like. Artistics are highly represented among students studying the arts and humanities.
Research suggests ENFPs enjoy and excel in Artistic occupations. Creative careers allow them to directly utilize their Ne-Fi combination in creative and meaningful ways. Those interested in the arts may be drawn to music, theater/drama, visual arts, healing arts, graphic design, interior design, and the like. Others may opt to study creative writing, poetry, or literature, perhaps even at the graduate level. ENFPs are typically strong writers.
Individuals in the Social interest domain enjoy working with people. Social interests are common among teachers, healthcare workers, and clergy. The Social domain relates to preferences for Extraversion and Feeling, making it a good fit for ENFP and ESFPs alike.
ENFP Socials gravitate toward healthcare, ministry, counseling, or education. As Intuitives, they tend to prefer working with high school or college level students, those who are more capable or interested in abstract learning. Those who opt to teach lower grade levels can nonetheless use their Ne creativity for their students’ betterment.
While some ENFPs may find a satisfying niche in healthcare, many will find healthcare too concrete or practical (i.e., too “Realistic”), lacking the creative and abstract elements they crave. Hence, ENFPs are generally better suited for mental health careers such as psychology (SIA), counseling (SAI), or psychiatry (IASR).
Social ENFPs may also be drawn to various types of humanitarian or non-profit work. They often enjoy venues such as the Peace Corps or missions work, furnishing them with opportunities to travel and work toward causes they care about; they may even “find themselves” in the process. ENFPs also gravitate toward organizations focused on social justice, environmental protection, animal rights, etc.
The Enterprising domain entails the promotion of products, ideas, or services. Typical Enterprising careers include sales and marketing, business and management, law, politics, journalism, insurance, and stock trading. Enterprising individuals often prefer Extraversion.
ENFPs, along with ENTPs, are probably better suited for journalism than any other type. They love to travel, engage with people, explore contemporary ideas, and to write about their experiences. Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller Eat, Pray, Love is a perfect example of the sort of work and paripatetic lifestyle ENFPs enjoy.
ENFPs who are sufficiently shrewd and ambitious may find entrepreneurship an attractive and viable career option. Entrepreneurial ENFPs may try their hand with a variety of art forms or business ideas: graphic and web design, freelance writing or journalism, photography, blogging, music, self-publishing, etc. Others may opt to start their counselling practice or sell their artistic creations via online venues such as Etsy.
Entrepreneurship grants them the autonomy and freedom they desire, sans the strictures of organizational life. Marketing is an important element of entrepreneurship, one which ENFPs may actually come to enjoy. It is amazing how much more motivated ENFPs can be when given the opportunity to sell and advertise their own work (Fi) versus that of others. In fact, their dominant Ne may be the personality function best-suited for marketing and entrepreneurship.
One type of entrepreneurship that seems particularly appropriate for ENFPs is the “slash career.” They may, for example, view themselves as “author / lecturer / trainer / consultant.” Slash careers may be particularly appealing to Perceiving types, who are known for their versatility and adaptability.
Individuals with Conventional interests enjoy administrative work. They do well with manipulating data and are organized and detail-oriented. Those in this domain often prefer Sensing, Thinking, and/or Judging. While ENFPs can use their Si and Te to competently perform Conventional work, they will rarely find long-term satisfaction in these sorts of careers and thus tend to avoid them.
While by no means a comprehensive career list, ENFPs may find the following careers, jobs, or majors worth exploring:
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