Does Your Personality Determine Your Career?

Why might you be unhappy in your job?

Research suggests that personality might determine the career path you choose, and it may predict whether you are unhappy with your job.

Several studies have shown that people who hold jobs with characteristics and tasks related to their personality are more productive, happier, and make more money. For example, extraverts tend to hold jobs that involve communicating with others, such as sales or customer service. Introverts, on the other hand, may trend toward jobs interacting with computers or technology. Misfit in these jobs – an introvert who is a salesperson, for example, or an extravert who works in an office alone – may lead to lower performance and dissatisfaction.

Similarly, individuals high in conscientiousness may gravitate toward jobs involving numbers or paying attention to detail, and they may be better at those jobs as well.

Our research has even found personality differences in leadership positions depending on the sector of the organization. For example, more effective leaders, in general, are extraverted, conscientious, agreeable, and open to experiences. However, when we measured leaders in police departments, we found that extraversion and conscientiousness were associated with police leaders, but agreeableness and openness to experience were not. This makes sense because of the rigid, rule-driven environment of policing. Openness to experience is related to mild rule-breaking, or rule-bending, behavior, and that wouldn’t fit good police work.

So, one way to better understand your job and the rewards and strains that come from it is to compare the requirements of the job (and the job/organizational environment) with your strongest personality traits.



Denissen, J. J., Bleidorn, W., Hennecke, M., Luhmann, M., Orth, U., Specht, J., & Zimmermann, J. (2017). Uncovering the power of personality to shape income. Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797617724435

King, D. D., Ott-Holland, C. J., Ryan, A. M., Huang, J. L., Wadlington, P. L., & Elizondo, F. (2016). Personality homogeneity in organizations and occupations: Considering similarity sources. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(6), 641-653. doi:10.1007/s10869-016-9459-4


Originally published at Psychology Today

More Stories
Discover What Matters Most And Make It Your Purpose