3 Key Ways Your Personality May Be Holding You Back From The Job Of Your Dreams


Personality traits. They’re what define each of us as individuals and whether or not we’re described as funny, patient, friendly, or short-tempered. And when it comes to our careers, our personalities can also affect how successful we are.

That’s not to say only extroverts can become CEOs or that less assertive people can never be successful managers. But research does show that certain personality traits can create unique problems for individuals to overcome on their path to success.

Here are three personality traits that can have an impact on your career:

1. Being shy can mean being forgotten.

The 2015 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Survey found that showing enthusiasm is the number one factor when it comes to making a good impression with recruiters. Of the more than 1,400 recruiter respondents, 87 percent said being enthusiastic helps make a lasting impression.

Unfortunately for shy job seekers, timidness can often be confused with disinterest. So, while it’s not impossible for introverts to show enthusiasm, it may not come naturally. Luckily, there are other ways to seem excited about a position without acting like an overzealous cheerleader.

Remember when interviewing for a job that a smile and phrases like “I’m excited about…” and “The organization’s focus on innovation really interests me,” can go a long way in showing your positive feelings.

Most importantly, maintain eye contact. In a 2016 survey from CareerBuilder, 67 percent of employers said not keeping eye contact was the biggest body language mistake candidates make. While it might make you feel uncomfortable at first, not letting your eyesight drift down will help you appear confident and enthusiastic.

2. Grit and persistence can cost you.

A 2015 study recently published in the Journal of Research in Personality looked at how having a “grittier” personality affected participants’ choices to move on or keep trying. Grittier and more persistent participants were likelier to continue focusing on one part of a task even if meant failing to complete the overall task. Furthermore, in a second part of the study, participants with these personality traits were more likely to continue playing a game they had no chance of winning even when continuing came at a high cost.

You wouldn’t think being persistent would hurt your career, but what this study shows is that overly determined professionals need to be aware of the blind spot their personality creates. For example, your instincts might tell you to keep working hard for an organization, even if you’ve never received a promotion or raise while working there. Sometimes sticking it out is worth it, but sometimes it means sacrificing other opportunities to develop your skills and career.

To make sure you actually achieve your goals, try establishing deadlines for every goal you set for yourself. If you haven’t achieved what you’d hoped by the time the deadline passes, stop and evaluate why. This will allow you to change and adapt your plan before wasting more time or energy on one that’s not working.

3. Your rebellious side can keep you from getting ahead.

Tattoos and piercings are one way people express their wilder side, but they may scare off employers. A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 32 percent of employers would be less likely to promote employees with non-traditional piercings and 27 percent would shy away from employees with visible tattoos.

Not to sound like your mother, but that’s why you should always think long and hard about what you get tattooed — and where.

Of course, if you already have the ink, there’s not much you can do now. Just know that, depending on your industry, you might have to work harder to overcome the bias against piercings and tattoos in order to get promoted. While a lot of organizations in tech or creative fields are more tolerant of alternative looks, more traditional fields may still have a stigma about tattoos and piercings.

If you’re worried that your less conventional style is holding you back, ask to have regular discussions with your manager about your career goals. Let them know how serious you are about your job and that the rebellious side to you doesn’t keep you from being a high-performing employee.

Dealing with the downside of our otherwise positive personality traits is never easy. But you’re not alone — everyone faces similar challenges. By knowing how different personality traits affect our career, we can be better prepared to overcome challenges while staying true to ourselves.