Thinking about personality in relation to career means using what you know about yourself as a starting point for identifying the type of work and work environment that would suit you.

Employer emphasis on fit

When hiring, employers think hard about an individual’s ‘fit’ in both the company as a whole and the job role they are applying for. This is not about screening out people who aren’t the same as current employees, but about making sure that an employee will develop in their role and will represent the company well. It’s about matching personality, skills, interests and values with company values and occupational roles. Losing new employees is extremely costly to an employer, and one common reason for leaving is that the graduate doesn’t feel comfortable with either the post or the company's ethos.

Employers may use personality questionnaires in selection, but they will always be assessing personality throughout the recruitment process.

Understanding yourself is an important step towards selecting target companies, presenting yourself well when making an application and at an interview. It can help you to explain why you alone, of all the many applicants for a post, deserve the job. It will enable you to express your individuality and the qualities which make you special, and to link them to the post that you have chosen to apply for. 

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How can I find out more about myself?

Three common approaches to finding out more about your personality in relation to your career are outlined below. They are not mutually exclusive and none of them stands alone, so you may like to try a mix.

 Personality assessment

Personality assessments aim to give an objective measure of your preferences, or styles of behaviour. They are subject to much scientific testing, but this does not make them infallible: the human character is very difficult to measure, and has a habit of evolving with time! Click here to find out more about personality assessments.

Reflect on your past experiences

This is the technology free way of finding out about yourself. The key to self-analysis is honesty, and not being afraid to ask others what they think about you. Consider reflecting on situations you’re proud of and what were your qualities used in this particular situation.

Learn from other people's experiences

Finding out how other people have established their careers, and how their choices and success have been affected by their personality, may give you some ideas relating to your own. Most people love talking about themselves, if you are really interested in listening. Sources of information could include:

  • friends who have already done jobs or started a career
  • family
  • alumni from your school or university
  • other contacts you make in the course of your decision making process

Rather than asking others to speak directly about their personality, you may find it more helpful to ask them what they like about their jobs, what their own strengths and weaknesses are, and if there is anything they would change. By listening attentively you will probably make some very interesting discoveries about their personality and how it relates to their experiences.