Your talent, job knowledge and expertise will definitely take you far in your career. But alongside these, what will make you a trailblazer, help you surge in your career and propel you into a well-paid position, are your personality or character traits in the workplace. They are very crucial for landing the job, and, more often than not, give the interviewer an idea if you are the right fit for the company.
True, your skills are paramount. But what’s equally important is whether you are a cultural fit or not. So, apart from being qualified for a particular position, you also need to fit in with the company’s culture. The only way for interviewers to assess this is by getting a sense of your personality.
Character traits become all the more important when there is more than one candidate with similar abilities and skills. Oftentimes, interviewers tilt in favor of the candidate with soft skills — dependability, positivity, flexibility, effective communicator, ability to handle pressure calmly, among others.
If you are looking at a change of career, or just seeking another job, it is important that you understand yourself. To do so, you need to first understand your values and know what your positive character traits and strengths are. However, this can lead to some confusion, as the differences between values and traits are subtle.
Values: Values are what we believe to be right. They are unique to us, and we choose them ourselves. Our values are shaped early on in our lives. They reflect what is most important to us and define our actions and the decisions we make. Our values help us move ahead, even in the most difficult of times.
Character traits: Our character traits are more of a reflection of the way our brain has developed over time. These are what make us different from other people. So, if you get a grip of someone’s personality or character traits, you’d know exactly how that person would react in a particular situation or setting.
To summarize, while our values guide our perception, judgments and behavior, our personality or character traits define who we are in terms of behavior, thoughts and emotions. If we are seeking more purpose and satisfaction in our work lives, we need to play to our personality’s strengths and commit to living more as per our values.
We’ve all faced situations at some point when we’ve wondered why we’re constantly clashing or struggling to work with some people, while being able to work seamlessly with others. That’s because personality traits differ from person to person. They define what kind of relationships we have with our co-workers. It’s for the same reason, at times, we can also predict how our co-workers would react to certain situations — whether they’ll be receptive or leave us flummoxed. So, personality or character traits are paramount, especially when you spend 8-9 hours a day with the same set of people.
Each one of us has an individual personality. Because our personalities are varied, we cannot always get along perfectly with everyone around. Having said that, if you constantly observe the personality traits of those around you, and are aware of your own style, the task of getting along with them would become easier. This would go a long way in helping you understand yourself and your co-workers. Also, don’t always criticize those whose views differ from yours. You may not agree with them, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to respect their views. Importantly, it helps to avoid conflict situations at your workplace.
If you are aware of your ethical character traits in the workplace, operating within those parameters would allow you to be more efficient and effective. Your productivity would be at its peak. However, if you try to operate outside those limits, your productivity would fall. You’d lag in your work, and the poor quality would show.
So, understand your strengths, and operate within those boundaries.
Your character or personality traits often provide the interviewer with a better understanding of your strengths. So, you need to highlight the best attributes in your resume, cover letter and job interview. You can highlight character traits in your resume by weaving them in the form of bullet points, or including them in the summary. For your cover letter, highlight character traits that are relevant and specific to the job you are applying to. For example, if you’re applying for the job of an engineer, you could highlight a time when you exercised critical thinking. Finally, when you are called in for the interview, share stories and experiences of times when you exhibited your strongest character traits.
To have a leg-up on the competition, you need to identify the most important character traits in the workplace, and accordingly go over your resume, cover letter and interview tactics in a way that gives you the best chance at success. Employers usually seek candidates who can bring the required job-related skills and strong work ethics, along with other soft skills, to the workplace. Certain character traits like time management, communication skills, and teamwork fall under a more common set of traits that employers usually look for in candidates.
While hunting for a job, putting together a succinct yet effective resume is the first step. A resume gives the potential employer an idea of whether or not you’re the right fit for the available position.
First of all, you need to have a clear understanding of what kinds of character traits are expected for the position you are applying for.
For example, if you’re applying for a receptionist’s job and you list a dozen traits while skipping communication, which is integral to the role, your resume may end up in the head-hunter’s recycle bin.
Understanding the requirements is half the job done; the other half involves backing yourself up. You need to prove that you indeed have the traits to be the right fit for the position.
Communication: The ability to communicate clearly and accurately is key in any position, and it needn’t necessarily be verbal. A potential employer would be interested in how you express yourself in writing — your resume, to start with. Make sure your resume is clear, concise, to the point, and not repetitive.
Don’t write: ‘I am excellent at communication.’
Instead, write: ‘I have demonstrated my communication skills, both verbal and non-verbal, at xyz seminar or during a PowerPoint presentation that was greatly appreciated by my boss/colleagues’.
Time management: Always remember, at a lively workplace, the deadline is always ‘yesterday’. Time management is a character trait that you must possess for any job. Think of examples when you completed a certain task on time, and how it made a big difference at your former workplace.
Don’t write: ‘I am good at time management.’
Instead, write: ‘I completed the xyz project in record time despite it having been handed to me on short notice. That became a talking point at work for quite some time’.
Teamwork: Working in isolation in current times is next to impossible, and isn’t productive even. Stress that you are a positive and sociable person who likes to work along with colleagues as a team.
Don’t write: ‘I am a team player, but I also do well when working all by myself’.
Instead, write: ‘I enjoy working in groups. I am a good listener and open to constructive criticism. In my last job, I led a five-member team where we had the task of devising a strategy to boost sales of xyz products. We brainstormed by posing questions to each other and incorporating every member’s suggestions until we arrived at a unanimous strategy. I take pride in the fact that there was zero conflict, and every member had the opportunity to voice their opinion.’
Once your application has been considered and you’re invited to the interview, remember to exhibit the following character traits:
Confidence: The mirror trick never gets old. Practice answering possible questions in front of a mirror and check for awkward gestures or body language. Remember, there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance, so don’t talk yourself up too much unless you can substantiate those claims with proof.
Honesty: Do not lie during the interview or exaggerate your achievements. If you talk about a worthy project that you had completed with the help of a colleague, do mention it instead of pocketing all the credit. This will show your humility and showcase that you are a team player.
Loyalty: The golden rule in an interview is to never criticize your boss or complain about colleagues, even if your last workplace may have been toxic. For questions like ‘Why did you leave your last job’, it is always best to respond with ‘I am looking for bigger challenges and professional growth’ or ‘I have always aspired to work with your company; my last job was a stepping stone.’
A multi-tasker: Employers prefer those who are willing to come out of their roles and do whatever is necessary.
A strategist: Companies want their new hires to have long-term goals. If they’re investing a certain amount of money on someone, they need to know that person not only has a vision for the future but a plan to get there as well.
An independent thinker: Many employees just go along with everything the boss says. Such people don’t do anything except add to their boss’s ego. Companies need people who can question the boss when needed, think out of the box, and even challenge the status quo.
A decider: Most organizations look out for those who are not afraid to use their own judgment and take decisive action.
A team player: This is the biggest trait an organization looks for in a new hire. The ability to get along and work effectively with others is an essential part of every job.
A cautious person: To take risks is a great ability, but there are times when risky decisions can backfire. So, alongside risk-takers, every organisation needs cautious employees who can provide stability and keep the risk-takers grounded at times.
A cultural fit: Every organization’s culture differs from one another. Flexibility: Organizations look for new hires who aren’t rigid in their approach, and are willing to take on new challenges or learn new skills if required. If you are one of those who is flexible and accommodating, you definitely stand a better chance.
Cooperative spirit: When making a hiring decision, an important thing that recruiters consider is the ability to fit in with the rest of the team. It’s essential that a candidate can cooperate well with the others.
Discipline: This is one of the most basic expectations from a candidate. Irresponsible behavior isn’t quite tolerated at workplaces. So, being disciplined is the first basic personal trait an employer will seek.
Honesty: Though talent and skills are important, working with integrity in the workplace is what distinguishes quality workers from the rest. So, present yourself as honestly as possible in the interview. That’s what all employers look for.
Efficiency: Efficient employees have very high goals and keep pursuing them till they are achieved. Employers look for people who can go the extra mile to get the job done.
Patience: A highly underrated trait, it’s of immense value to an organization. If you are patient, you are most likely to listen to others and also readily explain things in detail to your co-workers
Creativity: The ability to think creatively is a highly-valued soft skill. Employers seek candidates who can solve unexpected problems with ease and confidence.
At the workplace, you need a combination of skills and character traits, without which you’d be stuck in a rut. Here are some key traits that can prove highly useful:
Positive attitude: Work can often be stressful, but the ability to stay optimistic and not lose sight of your goals in the face of adversity will lead you on the path to success.
Goal-oriented: Stay focused on relevant tasks and cut out the background noise. You must be capable of navigating the cycle of setting targets, reviewing progress and revising strategy.
Innovate and reinvent: Creativity is one of the most prized traits that a company looks for in an employee. Adapt yourself to new challenges and educate yourself about current market trends and future job requirements. That’s how you can stay ahead of the game.
Self-discipline: This includes efficiently managing your time and doing a neat job. The rewards will surely follow.
Ethical behavior: Have a good understanding of the company’s policies and protocols to be able to do things the right way. “By hook or by crook” is not the principle you should swear by.
Adventurous: I have the willingness and ability to take risks.
Ambitious: I set big goals and go all-out to achieve them.
Approachable: I am a team player.
Articulate: I communicate with clarity.
Autonomous: I am open to taking initiatives.
Calm: I don’t stress or panic in crisis situations.
Charismatic: I possess skills to lead a team as and when required.
Cheerful: I believe in promoting a positive work environment.
Clever: I am a multi-tasker.
Competitive: I strive for only the best.
Confident: I don’t second-guess myself or hesitate to pose questions to seniors.
Cooperative: I work in synergy with my colleagues.
Courteous: I treat others with respect and value their work.
Creative: I am enterprising and have the ability to innovate.
Curiosity: I believe that one is never too old to learn something new.
Determined: I do not give up without a fight.
Devoted: I am loyal to the company and have its best interests at heart.
Diligent: I work with sincerity.
Easygoing: I adjust well to new situations and challenges.
Educated: My skills are backed by formal training.
Efficient: I get work done much before the deadline.
Eloquent: Communication is among my biggest strengths.
Energetic: I don’t mind working beyond regular office hours.
Enthusiastic: I always give my 100% to every assignment.
Flexible: I can adapt to and work around unexpected situations and targets.
Focused: I don’t waver from my goals.
Friendly: I am sociable and work in tandem with my team members.
Honest: Workplace ethics and the sense of trust are sacrosanct for me.
Imaginative: I am one to push the envelope and think out of the box.
Independent: I don’t need hand-holding to finish a project.
Inquisitive: I ask questions for I believe curiosity fosters creativity.
Insightful: I have a good understanding of people and situations.
Intuitive: I know wrong from right and make decisions based on gut instinct.
Meticulous: I give attention to the finer details.
Neurotic: I leave no scope for errors.
Open-minded: I am always open to feedback and advice.
Opinionated: I am not scared to voice my opinions.
Organised: I believe in planning ahead to avoid the last-minute hustle.
Patient: I do not lose control of my emotions or make emotional decisions.
Perceptive: I can gauge people’s moods.
Persuasive: I am able to steer a conversation or strategy in my direction.
Procedural: I stick to rules and believe in fair play.
Punctual: I do my job in a time-bound manner.
Quiet: I let my work do the talking.
Relaxed: I don’t lose my temper easily.
Resourceful: I make optimum use of tools at hand.
Responsible: I complete tasks on time and comply with the company’s protocols.
Talkative: I can initiate a conversation without compromising on productivity.
Technological: I am tech-savvy and have interest in acquiring futuristic skills.
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