Emily Marsh October 17 2018

How do our personality traits influence our career choices?

Facet5 can help us understand the link between personality traits and career choice. We explore the work preferences associated with each of the big five factors of personality, using the Facet5 personality profiling model.

Not everyone knows what they want to do with their life. Many people find that they ‘fall’ into their career. However, whether deliberate or not, do people tend to move into careers that reflect their interests or even their personality traits?

There are many theories around which personality types suit specific job roles. One such theory is Holland’s Theory of Career Choice, which categorises people into six personality types. For example, there are the Realistic ‘Doers’; the carpenters, electricians and engineers, and the Investigative ‘Thinkers’ who are the biologists, mathematicians and computer programmers of the world.

More advanced personality measures also provide insights into people’s work preferences. For example, many have explored how the MBTI personality types fit with certain job roles. However, these connections are sometimes oversimplified.

The Facet5 model was created specifically for the workplace, and an individual’s personality profile includes a detailed summary of how their personality traits manifest in their work preferences.

Here, we take a look at the 'role elements' associated with each of the five factors in the Facet5 model.


People with High Will are more likely to be sure of their career direction. They’ll make a decision early and stick to it. They are driven by the ability to influence, and therefore it may come as no surprise that most lawyers are High Will. By contrast, people with Low Will are much more interested in what others think before making decisions.

Work preferences of High Will individuals:

  • Having control over people and situations to shape direction
  • Making decisions, particularly those that will make a genuine difference to performance
  • Leading people and taking charge

Work preferences of Low Will individuals:

  • Shared responsibilities in a team
  • Roles which require research and finding out other people's points of views
  • Roles which have a focus on building relationships


High Energy individuals can be more prone to moving around different roles. They tend to only stay in a role until they feel they have explored it as far as they want, and then become attracted to something different, offering an opportunity for change and to learn new skills. Low Energy people are quite the opposite in this respect. They don’t like to promote themselves, and once they find a job area that interests them they will show a depth of focus in the role.

Work preferences of High Energy individuals:

  • Having a variety of challenges
  • Being involved in new ventures and changes
  • Meeting new people (both internally and externally)

Work preferences of Low Energy individuals:

  • Working in a technical speciality where they feel they are an expert
  • Roles which can be done without having to work with others
  • A more sedate, quieter working environment free from distraction and noise


People who score strongly on Affection need to feel that their work has meaning. Though they tend to stay working in one broad area, they seek to broaden their horizons within that field, looking for interesting alternatives to what they are doing. At the other end of the scale, people with low scores put a much more personal focus on their career. They want to get out of it what they put in.

Work preferences of High Affection individuals:

  • Having a sense of companionship at work
  • Working for a worthwhile cause
  • The ability to help others and contribute to the community

Work preferences of Low Affection individuals:

  • Being rewarded proportionately to the effort they put in
  • The opportunity to shine in a competitive sense
  • Having clear objectives that aren’t open to interpretation


People with High Control tend to develop their careers in a logical and planned way. They want to know where they are going and that they are on track to reaching their goals. People with Low Control have a very different attitude. They want to work in roles that allow them to do their own thing and give autonomy and flexibility.

Work preferences of High Control individuals:

  • The ability to organise
  • Having a system or schedule to work to so they know where they stand
  • Working with adequate resources and guidelines

Work preferences of Low Control individuals:

  • Working in a relaxed environment without too many rules
  • Having the freedom to be innovative
  • Companies where individuality is valued


Facet5 research suggests that Emotionality does have an influence on work preferences, but not in the same way as the other factors. Rather than having specific activities that are appealing, Emotionality seems to be more connected to the conditions of working life. For example, High Emotionality people can worry more and lack confidence in themselves, and therefore may need more support and encouragement.

We aren’t all clear of exactly what we want to do with our lives. But people are typically happier and more productive when they work in roles that match their natural preferences. And understanding the natural preferences inherent in our personality can help us to identify the types of job roles and working environments that we are likely to thrive and excel in.

It also helps people become aware of why they like or dislike certain elements of their role. Realising this gives people opportunities to find strategies for better managing their working life so they can be more productive and more satisfied in their role.

Beyond the Personality Test


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