should you add IQ or Myers Briggs to your resume?

A reader writes:

Applicants always want their resume to stand out. Well, I know that a few of the companies I have worked for know of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type test. Although it is not seen as “professional” (yet), I have seen it posted in many settings and have even seen workshops on this stuff.

Would this be a good thing to add to a resume to make it stand out?

By that same token, would an IQ score be something to add? I mean, it is a test of problem solving and reasoning, which are valuable skills in the workplace.

No! Do not under any circumstances put your IQ on your resume. You will look pompous (assuming it’s high), weird, and … just strange. If you are smart, count on it to come across on its own in your materials, your achievements, and your interview.

Don’t put your Myers-Briggs type either, unless you’re in a field where it’s widely considered useful currency. I don’t know what those fields are or if there even are any, but if one exists and you’re in it, presumably you’ll know. But otherwise, you risk appearing a little cheesy to some (although probably not all) resume readers. I suppose you can mention it in your cover letter if it’s somehow highly relevant to the needs of the job, but leave it off the resume. (But I bet someone will disagree with me on this, and I’m looking forward to reading their reasoning in the comments.)

Resumes are for listing your accomplishments; they’re not for personal traits. Listing that you’re an “ESTJ” does give me some information about you, but it doesn’t tell me what you’ve achieved and experienced, which is what I’m looking for when I look at your resume.

Anyone want to argue the opposite?

{ 27 comments… read them below }

  1. Laurie*

    OMG, is this real? I would openly mock a resume with an IQ or MBTI type listed on the document. Maybe I’m evil…

    …but why don’t you just list your favorite color, tell me that you like ponies, and share a whole host of other really creepy information?

  2. Sadistic Manager*

    I’ve seen one of these resumes. When I asked about it, the candidate launched into a somewhat long-winded description of her personality, and the way she framed it came off as “I put that there so you’ll know what accommodations to make to work with me.”

    ‘Scuse me, Princess, but if I’m conceding anything in the personality field it’ll be because I’ve gotten to know you after I chose to hire you.

    I can’t imagine ever using MBTI details in a resume. I’ll get my personality impression from the interview, thanks. And I agree with you completely on the IQ.

    Unless they want to put an IQ of 60 on there and try to convince me it’s exceptional. I can use a laugh every now and then…

  3. Breanne*

    Couldn’t agree more. I wrote a similar article on the topic, and honestly, I wouldn’t even put my MBTI preferences on my resume if I were applying in my field.

  4. nuqotw*

    I saw a resume with MENSA membership mentioned once. When I asked the candidate what she brought to the company, she cited it. Didn’t help her case. Frankly, we cared much more about *our* evaluation of a candidate’s abilities/work persona, rather than someone else’s. That’s what the application process is there for – so that the company can do its own evaluation. So, a resume should be the data that the prospective employer will evaluate, not a third party evaluation. Putting in one’s IQ or such implicitly devalues the prospective employer’s evaluation process – never a good message for an interviewee to send.

  5. Anonymous*

    We had one person mention tout their Mensa membership all the time. This did NOT impress the other members of the team, all of whom were honest to goodness rocket scientists. People thought he was a jerk trying to overcompensate for some weakness. It actually lessened his credability.

  6. michael j pastor*

    Disclaimer: I’m a qualified MBTI Trainer.

    For the same reasons that the MBTI should *never* be used as a screening mechanism by an employer, the MBTI shouldn’t be used by an employee to self-label. It’s unethical and doesn’t help your case, and if anything, artificially hinders it.

    Other than Laurie’s ignorant comment about equating one’s MBTI type with ponies, favorite colors or other “creepy” information, the MBTI only helps *after* you’ve landed the job. That doesn’t mean that you can’t use the information about your Type to your advantage in the job hunting process.

    How the MBTI helps you (and only you) in the process is to give you the vocabulary to describe and emphasize your strengths and contrastingly gives you the vocabulary to describe your weaknesses when that inevitable question comes up.

    But it’s important to not just recite your personality profile and use MBTI vocabulary. Use your own words, make sure it’s the kinds of things you would say about yourself anyway, and realize that they’re only parameters and preferences and not a dictation of your working style – anyone can operate in any type mode; the MBTI only describes what we prefer to do, and how we operate in a level of low stress.

    Unfortunately far too many people see the MBTI in derisive terms like Laurie, and you can only hurt yourself by listing it outright.

  7. HR Wench*

    The best way to make your resume standout: MEET THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE JOB FOR EFF SAKE.

    That is all.

  8. Wally Bock*

    Mensa? Wow, that brings back memories. I was at the Bronx High School of Science in the 1960s. Science was a school filled with super high IQ kids. One lesson I learned from that is there’s always somebody, or in this case a couple of thousand somebodies, who are smarter than you.

    But Mensa was new in the US then and there was a big drive to take the test and join. It never made sense to me. It still doesn’t. I don’t need a special club to find bright people to hang around with. They’re all over. And they’re interested in things besides how smart you and they are.

    Mensa on a resume triggers the question: “List six things that you’ve accomplished in your life that you’re proud of.” That usually gets us to something worthwhile.

  9. RLH*

    If I might be so bold as to distill Mr. Pastor’s comment: The key is self-reflection, which is beneficial in all stages of job seeking. Knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as how to promote or compensate for them, is fantastic. Knowing myself means that I apply for jobs that are right for me. I can honestly and accurately answer the to-often asked question “What is your best strength/what is your biggest point for improvement?” By providing a real (read, not stock) answer, my perspective employer and I both can walk away thinking that this is a fit.

  10. Breanne*

    I have to defend Laurie. She doesn’t buy in to the MBTI, and that’s okay.

    The point is that Laurie represents a portion of HR that would be unimpressed (and possibly turned off) by that information. Getting a job is hard enough these days. Don’t take a chance at turning off a future employer by non-standard information.

    As a MBTI Certified consultant, one of my greatest obstacles is the fact that some people are “self-educated” on the MBTI which means they usually don’t really understand it. Only someone who really understands type theory wouldn’t discriminate based on type. Don’t take the chance of letting an uneducated arm-chair type “expert” discriminate against you by telling them your type before selection.

    Now, if I know someone is a Certified MBTI consultant, I would have no reservations about sharing my type. They would know that the issue then is about my ability to flex my type rather than fitting a certain mold.

    In the end, there are too many opportunities to turn off a future employer. Just give the facts that relate to your ability to do the job and nothing else.

  11. michael j pastor*

    There’s a difference between not buying into a theory and outright denigrating it. Laurie crossed that line.

  12. Breanne*

    If I didn’t feel like I sort of knew Laurie, I would be annoyed by the comment, but I don’t think she was trying to be offensive. I think she was making a comparison to other extraneous information one could include on a resume.

    I actually was first introduced to Laurie years ago after she wrote about personality assessments and explained why she was not a fan. We had a nice discussion and I found her to be open and interested in opposing theories. As it turns out, she had a less than thorough debrief in the past and that has colored her experience.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I particularly respect Laurie because she still openly engages in the discussion and is open to opposing views.

    There are plenty of topics that Laurie and I agree to disagree on, and that’s one reason why I enjoy reading her blog so much. At least she makes you think!

  13. George A Guajardo*

    I can’t think of a single instance where adding personality labels to a resume is a good idea.

    In theory, some personality dimensions can speak to a person’s ability to succeed on the job (like the conscientiousness dimension of the NEO). However, this type of information will most likely be misunderstood and misused by the person evaluating a resume.

    If an organization really wants or needs to know information about an applicant’s personality they can administer an objective personality test.

  14. Robert*

    I am a firm believer in the MBTI because years ago, I had a high level of difficulty in relating to other people in high school. My parents introduced me to a book about the subject, where I learned that I am at my core an INTP. It felt like the description of me was written specifically about my experiences.

    More important to me than the mere fact that I was at a big minority in terms of the way I think was that it helped me learn and better understand that not everybody thinks the same way. I learned this more thoroughly through personal experiences at a job. It’s good to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing that the majority of the world is associated with extroversion meant that I had to learn to adjust myself. Now, depending on changing needs, I am much better able to adapt parts of my own personality to more ably tackle problems.

    My experience with Myers-Briggs is limited to two books I’ve read as well as some articles found on the internet, so I should not be counted on as a complete expert, but this is a topic with which I have found great interest and thought about in detail. It’s important to note that your personality is likely to change with your situation.

    Aptitudes, however, do not change as easily. For example, a person with a highly developed understanding of music is likely to hold onto those abilities for much of their life. Consider the number of composers and musicians who have continued practicing the art well past our generally accepted age of retirement (although musical aptitudes differ from most of the others in that they generally fade much less than others).

    Your aptitudes can demonstrate a capacity to perform a job well, but the person who may hire you needs proof. The proof you can provide them is experience, and to demonstrate that you need to focus on using concise, clear language.

    I feel that the MBTI is best used for personal strength. It can help you learn to adapt to people who think differently than you do, but remember that your personality is situational. The ability to change your behavior as needed can be a strength.

    Telling the interviewer your personality type without being asked may be interpreted as “Here’s how you should adapt to me,” when they are likely more interested in the opposite. Like most of the posts here, I recommend against placing it in your resum�.

  15. Anonymous*

    Why would you openly mock a resume with an IQ (or claim to membership to MENSA)?

    Consider my case:

    1. I have 110+ completed college credits from Oxford University with a transfer to Cornell University (but no diploma because I left during my final year).
    2. I have 12+ years of professional, corporate experience with very solid recommendations.

    Despite this, I continue to be judged by companies because I lack a piece of paper signifying a college education even though I am BOTH educated and experienced.

    Credentials over substance? How is this any different? And yet you express an “OMG”?

    I joined that silly MENSA organization just so I could list it under my educational history for people like you, people who value credentials over intelligence, substance, and experience.

  16. Rikki*

    In regards to “Anonymous,” of course an employer is going to be turned off by the fact that you accumulated hundreds of credits from Oxford/Cornell and yet you failed to actually earn a degree.

    It’s not so much the piece of paper that matters, it’s the fact that you didn’t have the self-discipline to finish what you started. It suggests that you are unpredictable, impulsive, and don’t necessarily start what you finish, all traits which are major turn-offs to prospective bosses.

    You boast of your intelligence, but come on, how smart is it, really, to acquire all those units and then stop short of actually earning the damn degree? Why would you leave during your final year? Maybe you had some tragedy or life crisis that forced you to drop out, but even so, why didn’t you ever go back and finish it?

    A degree MEANS something because it signifies follow-through, commitment, and self-discipline. Bailing out during the home stretch demonstrates just the opposite. So, I am not surprised at your lack of finding a job; no boss wants a flighty MENSA member who just couldn’t pull it together to actually complete the credential like the rest of us do.

  17. Julianne Britton*

    I am a member of Mensa, this organisation which you all seem to have something against.

    I do not feel I am trying to make up for anything as I am happy with my life’s achievements so far, and it is not something I tend to boast about.

    I became a member for myself and nobody else, and as bad as it may sound to you, it does make me feel good that I managed to achieve that.

    I am unsure whether to include it on my CV, hence why I stumbled across this article. I have seen plenty of examples where people do include it and a lot of these people do seem to have landed great jobs. I am not saying these jobs have been given to them based on their Mensa membership but I am saying that it didn’t put off their employers.

    Personally, I don’t think it should be seen as boasting. It should be recognised as a personal achievement and possibly proof of problem-solving skills and mental ability, just as qualifications are proof of knowledge of certain subjects.

    I am by no means saying that people who are not in Mensa, are any less qualified or any worse at problem-solving etc. I am purely saying that it is a certificate that documents such qualities.

    I agree that it would be pompous and irritating if someone were to bring it up every five minutes and constantly talk about their Mensa membership. However, I do think it is the sort of achievement that one should be able to include on their CV without being considered as a “boaster”.

    1. JC*

      Maybe people should be able to put Mensa membership on a CV.

      But we don’t live in a world of “should”. The purpose of a CV is practical, not hypothetical. It is to convince hiring managers that you’re right for the job.

      Wrongly or rightly, putting Mensa membership – or IQ – on a CV does look pompous arrogant to many hiring managers. Maybe it shouldn’t, but when you’re looking for a job, your CV is a storefront and the customer is always right.

  18. Anonymous Job Seeker*

    I’ve taken the MBTI, and never list my type (ISTP) on a resume or bring it up (and I’ve never been asked), but I use it to screen jobs I’m considering based on the description of the position and the duties. The one time I didn’t, I did get the job, but was miserable there.

    I wish I was smart enough to join MENSA.

  19. Commenter*

    I think it is funny that people are actually taking the information on this blog seriously. The first thing I notice about this website is that it is way too cartoony for anyone to take seriously. What is with the cartoon manger at the top? My question is what successful manager writes a sentance like this in their “about me” section?

    “When I started this blog in May 2007, I managed a medium-sized, successful organization. I hired, fired, promoted, managed, all that. ”

    Ending it with “all that” really? One would think that someone that is giving advice about resumes and such would post their on resume in their about me section…

    I do give her credit, because she did the correct domain name, but if you ask me thats about it.

    Your friendly neighborhood ENTJ

    1. Liz in a Library*

      I’m not sure why conversational writing is always assumed to be unprofessional. I find that many of my favorite bloggers (in business, academia, and libraries) write in a conversational tone, but that adds to the value of the blog rather than detracting.

      Additionally, I think the people who take Alison’s advice seriously do so because they’ve read her long enough to recognize that she gives clear, straightforward, level-headed advice, which is increasingly difficult to find.


    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Thanks, Liz. I also find that people who can’t write well don’t realize that good writing almost always breaks some of the rules that bad writers think you’re supposed to follow.

      1. Commenter*

        I never claimed to be a good writer, but using a conversationalist style and using more updated grammar like the following sentence isn’t the way to go about helping people get jobs.

        “And I’m bossy, so I like to tell you my opinion.”

        For instance, I understand that grammatical rules are changing and these days it is sometimes acceptable to use “and” to begin a sentence. But, do most hiring managers or weathered human resource mangers understand that?

        The point is that most humans will tend to try to emulate your style of writing in cover letters or resumes, because they may feel it is more exciting than their drab expression. The problem with that is there are still alot of baby boomers out there that will see one sentence that is out of place from their old embedded grammical ways and they will just toss the resume in the garbage.

        Just a little constructive criticism… That’s all :-)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Dude, I’ve been paid to write professionally for years, for publications from The Washington Post to The New York Times, so I think we’ll all be fine.

  20. Sher Miller*

    Ok…I know this topic is over and done with, but I couldn’t help but want to say “Kudos” to you, Alison. It’s obvious you understand the different kinds of writing available to you and when to use them, whereas Commenter appears to be stuck in the old rut of “There is only one kind of writing and it must be used at all times.”

    I just ran across your blog and I find it clear, concise, approachable, and enjoyable, which I probably would not were you to write using a journalistic approach rather than in a conversational tone. Using a conversational tone does not denote ignorance or a lack of seriousness. Quite the contrary – it shows an understanding of your audience and a drive to clearly communicate your message.

    And just for the record, it is quite permissible to use a conjunction to start a sentence, if used efficiently, and it has been since the beginning of writing. Go read some biblical verse.

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