Two focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and Workplace Discussions. In most everyone’s career, there will be a point at which most workers want to advance. But what are the keys to advancing in a given organization? The following guest post is entitled, In the Corporate World, Does Personality Matter More Than Accomplishments?
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In school, we were taught to work hard, aim for high grades, and be as active in co-curricular and extra-curricular endeavors as possible, because it’ll make our resumes more impressive. The longer the lists of our achievements are, the more marketable we would be as job candidates.
But how come renowned business leaders rarely credit their accomplishments for their success? Instead, many of them say that it’s their personalities that allowed them to achieve so much. Add the fact that some famous CEOs were college dropouts, and it now seems that accomplishments are not as critical in the corporate world as we were taught.
Still, during the hiring process, candidates’ skills and achievements are heavily assessed. Their grades may not matter as much, but their recruiters would definitely ask them about professional experience and past projects. Some jobs even require higher education, like a master’s degree or post-doctoral degree.
So what’s really more important between the two? Personality or accomplishments?
How Business Owners View Skills and Personality
For Vic Holifield, owner-operator of Poolwerx, a candidate with both the right skills and personality is the “real winner.” However, such a complete package is hard to come by.
Hence, Holifield says business owners usually have to choose between hiring the candidate with the best background or the best fit. The former are the candidates stronger in the skill department, while the best fit are the candidates that’ll thrive in your company’s culture, a.k.a. the ones with the best personalities.
When you’re faced with a candidate with the right personality but fall short on technical background, Holifield suggests not writing off that candidate. For him, being successful in a job isn’t about having every skill in place before you start. Skills can be and should be taught.
Interpersonal skills, however, play a big role in nailing a job. But unlike computer proficiency, marketing skills, or management skills, interpersonal skill is a soft skill, so it’s not taught andcan be developed outside professional endeavors. If you have great interpersonal skills, you tend to be more social and likable, so other people are naturally drawn to you, including employers and your colleagues.
Technical skills, the category where computer, marketing, and management skills belong, can be taught. So if you have a charismatic, flexible candidate, chances are he or she has the potential to learn the technical skills needed for him or her to boost his or her career.
Holifield added that training employees with the right personality may be easier than training an experienced employee. That’s because an employee who has been practicing the same job for years could’ve developed complacency, so they think they no longer have anything new to learn. On the other hand, training an inexperienced employee means you don’t have any bad habits to break. They’re also more eager to learn and have fresh ideas to bring to the table.
In customer service, personality also wins against skills. Indeed, if a customer service staff is approachable, patient, and friendly, people can interact with them more comfortably. They impress customers almost without even trying.
How Employers Test Personalities
Besides interviewing, recruiters also use a personality test for job applicants during the screening process. Personality tests in recruitment usually determine if a candidate has these traits:
• Enjoying challenges
• Seeing failures as opportunities
• Openness to feedback
• Seeking mentors
• Focusing on results
• Aspiring for more
• Ability to negotiate
In some occupations though, the personality traits required can be very different from those above. In the police force, for example, extroversion andconscientiousness are seen as the most important traits, because they’re associated with police leaders. Openness to experience and agreeableness, on the other hand, may give police officers a disadvantage. Those traits contradict the police force’s rigid, rule-driven environment.
But in corporate occupations, the traits listed above will give the most boost. If someone enjoys challenges, they don’t immediately delegate tasks before taking them on. They’ll try to multitask as much as they can, and only delegate when a particular task can empower another employee more.
Seeing failures as opportunities raises optimism and self-confidence because instead of beating yourself up over your mistakes, you embrace the learning curve and focus on how you could do better next time. From then on, you’ll develop the rest of the top traits, helping you learn skills easier, and allowing you to move up the ladder faster.
Skills are still important, but ultimately, it’s your personality that’s going to determine your career progress and opportunities. But keep in mind that you don’t need to be a people-pleaser. Instead, let your natural personality show, but strive to be the best you can be. In other words, be yourself. You’ll be amazed at the things you can achieve because you’ve embraced who you are.