Our personalities color everything we do, including how we search for a new job.
Do you know how interviewers, hiring managers and key contacts perceive you? Are you aware of what personality traits might be helping or hindering your search? And most importantly, do you know what to do about it?
Understanding your personality can help you make the most out of every opportunity.
The Big Five personality factors
The key to understanding your personality is knowing how you rate on the “” personality factors. The Big Five — extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism — provide a framework for understanding the most important things about yourself: how you make decisions, how you interact with others and how you manage their time and expectations.
Here are five ways understanding your personality can help make you a more effective job seeker: ( to tweet this list.)
1. Learn your networking tendencies
Recent shows that 64 percent of recruiters rate referrals as their highest quality source of candidates, which suggests that networking is a key component of any job search.
can be intimidating for anyone, but understanding your tendency to extraversion can make it less painful. Highly extroverted job seekers may feel more comfortable cold-calling contacts and going to large networking events.
If you’re more introverted, don’t try to force yourself to network like an extrovert. Focus on developing a few targeted connections in the field and give yourself permission to approach people by email or social media.
2. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Conscientiousness describes your tendency to plan ahead and can have a huge impact on the success of your job search. While highly conscientious people tend to make to-do lists, schedules and deadlines, people lower in conscientiousness may have a more lax attitude toward the process. But unless you have skills in high demand, the wait-and-see approach probably won’t get results.
If you’re naturally high in conscientiousness, you’ll tend to keep your search organized without much effort. But if you’re not typically the organized type, now’s the time to suck it up and get out of your comfort zone. Here’s what you’ll need, at a minimum:
- A rough schedule of what you’ll be doing each week, to move your search forward
- A checklist of must-dos to prepare for each of your networking events and interviews
- A list of questions you expect to get during interviews and your (practiced) answers
- A central place to organize contact information, for key people in your job search
If you’re groaning at the prospect of making a list and following a schedule, remember — the better you are at organizing your job search, the shorter it’ll be!
3. Polish your interview performance
can be tough, but understanding your approach to building rapport with an interviewer can make them a lot easier.
You and your interviewer will both have expectations and desires for how you’ll interact. Knowing your own style, and understanding how it matches with that of your interviewer, will help you to better meet his or her expectations.
If you’re more extroverted, you probably won’t struggle with thinking quickly and expressing yourself in an interview. But watch out for a tendency to talk too much, and never interrupt. Hiring managers want to know you can listen as well.
If you’re introverted, you might find it difficult to answer unexpected questions. Don’t pressure yourself; let your interviewer know that you need a minute to think about your answer. They’ll respect your thoughtfulness and that you’re taking the question seriously.
Agreeableness, or your tendency to seek cooperation and harmony in relationships, is also key in an interview. If you’re high in agreeableness, you may be most concerned about whether your interviewer likes you. If you’re lower in this trait, you’ll probably be thinking more about whether you appear competent and intelligent.
Both styles are valid, but it’s important to also think about what the interviewer wants from you. Matching their style of communicating will be more effective that just going with your own default mode.
4. Broaden your job search options
Openness can be key to finding a job in today’s job market. Most recruiters use social media to recruit candidates. People who are more open — that is, willing to explore and adopt new approaches to the job search — will have an advantage in unlocking new opportunitIes.
If your job search consists of searching the classifieds, job boards and attending career fairs, your approach is too traditional for the modern job market. Your competition is tapping into more innovative ways to look for work and you need to be too.
Make a commitment to try at least two or three new methods of job seeking, whether it’s joining LinkedIn or attending a networking event in a new industry. If it sounds intimidating to learn a new website or tool, ask a savvy friend to help walk you through it.
5. Create healthy job search habits
Job searches can be , and often take a toll on the body. Understanding how you respond to such stress can help keep you healthy through the process.
Are you the type of person who easily weathers emotional storms, or are you more prone to stress, anxiety and depression? If it’s the latter, you’re probably higher in neuroticism, and you’ll need to pay special attention to taking care of yourself during this time.
Remember that searching for a new job is considered one of the most stressful events a person can go through — right up there with death and divorce — so care for yourself accordingly. Eat well, exercise, spend time with friends or doing hobbies that you love. Keep close tabs on your mental health so you can be aware if you’re heading towards burnout.
Creating healthy job search habits, like taking time to recharge your batteries now and then, is an important part of keeping your body and mind healthy — and a healthy body and mind makes for a better job seeker.
Molly Owens is the CEO of , a California-based provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment. Connect with Molly and Truity on and .