Advice to a Career Key User about Inconsistent Personality Patterns

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Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, NCC

A person who had an inconsistent personality pattern (Investigative-Enterprising) emailed me, "Do you see something abnormal with these results? And more importantly, how do I go about choosing a career with these 'conflicting' results?"

This is how I replied,

"I can understand your confusion, but your interpretation is exactly right: there are occupations where 'inconsistent personality patterns' work especially well. The example you gave of a sales person (E) working in a technical field like science (I) or engineering (I) is a good one.

I happen to have an inconsistent personality pattern myself: Realistic (very strong) and Social. Patterns like these are not seen very often. The theory (and common sense) would predict that people with patterns like these have more difficulty making career decisions and, possibly, "fitting in" to a particular work environment.

For example, I worked as a counselor educator (primarily a Social occupation), and was aware that I was different from the other professors in my department who were strongly Social and Enterprising. The same was true for the students who were preparing to be counselors. They were mostly Social. In other words, I was a Realistic person working in a Social work environment.

At times, I did not feel as if I fit very well in this job. The students rated me as a good teacher, but not outstanding -- as they did for the other professors. Fortunately, there is an Investigative side to my personality. This, together with my Realistic side, motivated me to do research directed to practical outcomes: 'How can I use counseling psychology to help people?'

My personality has led me in directions and given me opportunities in my work and life that my Social co-workers did not have, or were not interested in -- like creating practical career measures like the Career Key and career guidance self-help books; enjoying books about nature and science; and camping, fishing, astronomy, etc.

So, our patterns are somewhat unusual, but that makes us a little more unique, gifted. There's nothing wrong with us. It makes life more challenging, and possibly rewarding. But, being aware of our personality differences helps us understand ourselves and, then, valuing who we are as persons.

I hope this is helpful. In writing it, I'm thinking I should probably add it to the website for the other "unusual" people like ourselves.

Wishing you well,

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