What Your Personality and Work Ethic Mean to Your Job Search

A favorite question we like to ask our job seekers is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Truly knowing yourself and knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life can be an incredibly daunting task. Fortunately, there are many tools and strategies you can use to help improve your self-awareness. But before starting the journey to self-discovery, it is important that you understand this premise: your personality defines you, while your work ethic defines your success. If you’re looking for a new job it’s imperative that you begin to explore both of these fundamental thoughts to increase the likelihood of success.

There are three characteristics every job hunter should demonstrate:

  1. Be proactive in your search
  2. Be creative in your approach
  3. Develop an unwavering determination to get hired

The better you’re able to align your personality and work ethic, the more likely you will be to identify the job-search strategy that is right for you, and the sooner you’ll be able to observe these three characteristics at play. So let’s take a closer look at each of these two very important elements: personality and work ethic.

Determining your personality

What do we mean by personality? We each at some point or another in our existence have heard others use descriptive words about us. “She’s a kind-hearted person“. “He is such as go-getter“. He’s a rebellious one, isn’t he“? “She has so much drive and enthusiasm“. Each of these phrases and thousands of others like them are used to describe an individual’s personality or character. Your personality or character plays a very important role in your job search success. So understanding your own personality will definitely put you in an advantageous position as you are planning your search.

Not only does it matter in terms of your choice in career fields, but also in the number of options you have within that field. Are you a leader, an innovator, an out-of-the-box thinker? Do you prefer to follow the rules, not rock the boat, do as you’re told without questioning? Do you want to change the world, or do you prefer to keep your head down, doing exactly what your job requires and collect your paycheck at the end of the week? (Nothing wrong with that)! Can you sit in in front of a computer, alone, for hours, or will you lose your mind if you aren’t constantly interacting with others?

These are just some of the personality traits to consider as you plan your search. Where do you fall on the continuum of leaders-followers; introverts-extroverts; compliant-rebellious; ambitious-humble etc…? Recognizing where you fall within these frameworks will give you a clear indicator of what types of opportunities will make the best sense and best fit for you.

Say for example you’re more of the easygoing, relaxed kind of person. You may not thrive in a high stress environment. You may therefore seek opportunities in areas where you have more control over your time. In such a case, you might possess character or personality traits such as responsibility, resourcefulness, and patience. It might do you well to look into careers that allow you to demonstrate these specific traits versus situations that involve high stress, lots of ambiguity or constant/frequent change.

Likewise if your personality is more gregarious, out-going and dynamic your best career opportunities may be found in fields that require high levels of interaction with co-workers, customers, clients, vendors etc… These opportunities can be found in a variety of career fields, so don’t think this limits you to entertainment or sales if that’s not your ‘cup of tea’.

The bottom line with personality is this: when it comes to your occupation of choice, it will most certainly dictate the kind of role you choose and ultimately how much joy you get out of your work.

Understanding work ethic

Generally speaking, work ethic is defined by a strong focus on the task at hand, and a steady desire to accomplish those tasks. Developing a solid work ethic is character building; and, what embodies strong moral character and reliability more than being known as the employee who has never missed a deadline and always has the company’s best interest at heart? If you are looking to get hired, being able to demonstrate this value will show your worth to prospective employers better than anything else ever could. Thus, it goes without saying that your level of work ethic runs completely parallel to your job search success. A strong work ethic and looking for work go hand in hand.

So, what about the effort you put into looking for a job? After all, no one is going to do the work for you! Even if your job search leads you straight into the arms of a recruiter or a career services agency, you don’t get to sit around and wait for them to hand you a position. You now have the responsibility of keeping in constant contact with them.

Look, when it comes to looking for work, the sooner you realize it’s a buyers’ market the better off you will be. Headhunters, recruiters, employers… they are the buyers. You? You’re a seller. One thing is certain in this market, job hunters need to develop sales competency. You just need to get good or better at it. If you don’t sell well, the odds of you making it to and through the selection process will be painfully slim.

In reality headhunters, recruiters and employers aren’t desperate for talent at all. There are ample choices for them to pick from since there are more people applying for available job openings than ‘the buyers’ can ever process. It is therefore your duty to keep them up to date with your most current résumé, availability, and job preferences.

If you’re networking, your responsibility in the process works in exactly the same way. Your colleagues, family, former employers and professors can only do so much. You need to take the leads they’re giving you and draft cover letters, send emails, and research the companies they’re connecting you with. You’ve essentially got to burn the candle from both ends. And if you’re looking for work using online resources, there is absolutely no way around sitting diligently in front of your computer and raking through pages and pages of job postings. The question you’re facing is “do you want this job more than the other thousand applicants?” Prove it. Be persistent.


Knowing early on what is at the heart of your career goals is your golden key. Before you can be proactive in your search, be creative in your approach, or develop an unwavering determination to get hired, you must have your personality and work ethic figured out.

It takes time to learn about yourself and develop strong work ethic. This might be the reason why you’ll sometimes notice an individual make a complete career overhaul after years in a particular field! The beauty of what we’ve shared here is that it’s never too late to jump start your journey self-discovery! Start by focusing in on your personal characteristics sooner rather than later. Figure out “what you want to be when you grow up” and once there, you’ll be well on your way to landing that dream gig!


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