What 3 Elements Do ROMANTICS Look for in Jobs?


Some people with the Romantic personality

Drawing by Elizabeth Wagele from "The Career Within You"

prefer a career where they can use compassion for their fellow humans. Others focus on their own creative work. Still others may use their interest in aesthetics and beauty, as art critics perhaps. No matter what your Enneagram type, however, according to Ingrid Stabb in The Career Within You, if you are looking for a new career or assessing your present one, it’s likely that one of the following needs will outweigh the others:

  • the opportunity to work on your interests or passions
  • the income it will provide, or
  • successful affiliation with other people. Here are Romantic type’s examples of each:

Working for money and contributing compassion.

Ron wouldn’t have picked law naturally, but his insistent parents groomed him from early childhood for this field. The long hours of studying necessary to get into the best universities, through law school, and to pass the bar exam meant he didn’t have time to express his compassionate nature. In middle age he had enough money to afford a stylish lifestyle, but he yearned for more meaning to his life. He became a Buddhist and volunteered at a hospice many hours a week. Forming relationships with the dying helped him make use of his naturally compassionate nature, which he did in an unusually creative way by introducing activities that were innovative at the time, such as taking his clients on interesting outings. The clients appreciated the individual attention and the opportunity to feel that they were among the living.

Affiliating and following a meaning profession.

Sylvia was skilled at working with payroll and other office jobs because her grandfather had trained her to do the bookkeeping for his shop. After college, she worked in the city tax collector’s office for ten years but longed to do something more creative. When things didn’t go well at work, she’d feel sensitive and start crying. She had great emotional needs and couldn’t get close enough to people in the large impersonal office. Finally, she became a psychotherapist and developed a respected practice. It was only after she learned the Enneagram and began to understand herself that she realized a different career would be more rewarding than office work.

Following one’s passion and creating beauty.

When Kate was in high school, her father wanted her to be the next great woman scientist, but it was her interest in spirituality that ultimately made her a female pioneer—at a time when ministers were almost all males. After seminary she spent twenty-six years as an ordained head of a church, expressing both spirituality and originality. Her inspiring services included carefully picked liturgical music, dance, lighting, and banners as well as interesting sermons. Instead of reading the same Christmas story over and over, Kate focused on a detail of a parable that would help her parishioners understand the parable in a new way. They would say, “Wow, I’ve never thought of that. Your sermon touched me and made me think.”

(This is the fourth in series of career motivations. For the first, second, and third, please see my Psychology Today blog of 5-17-11 on Perfectionists,  my WordPress blog of 6-14-11 on Helpers, and my Psychology Today blog of 6-7-11 on Achievers.)

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What 3 Elements Do “Helpers” Look for in Jobs?


Helper's wishes

Helper's Wishes from "Career Within You"

Some Helpers want to be needed and appreciated primarily by helping someone else shine, some thrive by offering advice wherever possible, and some prefer being an essential hub for the organization (Joan on Mad Men). If you are a Helper in the Enneagram personality system, Ingrid Stabb, career expert, believes one of these fundamentals will probably outweigh the others in importance as you assess what you need to fulfill in your work situation:

  •  the opportunity to work on your interests or passions
  • the income it will provide, or
  • successful affiliation with other people. Here’s an example of each:

Following his passion and counseling others in relationships.

Going to a psychotherapist himself inspired Peter to follow a career in therapy. The field is a perfect fit because it combines intellectual challenge with the opportunity to interview clients, encourage them, and watch them grow. After working in the inner city with a clientele of chronic addicts, he now runs his own psychotherapy practice working with adults on careers and relationships. Peter takes pleasure working in a field where he can feel genuine love and compassion for his clients.

Working for income and serving as an integral part of the organization

Charles considered several career paths, including foreign service and nonprofit work. Deciding he could make the biggest impact as a major donor, her pursued a career in investment banking. After achieving financial success, he entered public service and helped congressional candidates raise campaign funds. Then he helped Homeland Security by coordinating the deployment of six thousand National Guard troops and improved information flow between the department, the White House, and Congress. Charles became the department’s chief of staff, the trusted right-hand man to the top boss, and helped competing departments work together.

Affiliating and helping others become successful

In high school, Clare was impressed by a journalist who spoke at career day, but it was not until much later that she realized she could become a writer too. First she authored a large resource book while working for a business that helped kids develop confidence in their academic skills. Then at a software firm she helped marketing directors to express promotional content more eloquently. After building up a solid resume of writing, she became an independent consultant. Her task now is to listen to her clients, write what she thinks they want to say, and then double–check them to make sure she has captured it to their liking.

Once you’re aware of your preferences for these three elements, you can apply this knowledge to assessing your past jobs and those you are looking at applying for in order to decide which one will be most satisfying to you.

(This is the second in series of career motivations. Please see my Psychology Blog of 5-17-11 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-career-within-you/201105/what-3-common-elements-do-people-look-in-jobs for the first–on Perfectionists.)

P.S. Please see “About Elizabeth Wagele” on this site to find out about my upcoming presentation at the Fort Lauderdale IEA Conference, Sunday, July 31.