How often have you heard someone you know who earns a good salary say “there’s more to life than money” and “I want to be in a job that I truly love” sound familiar? How about, “I love my job and the people are great, but the pay is really bad?” If you’ve ever felt unfulfilled or underpaid, take heart. Because your personality is the key to getting the career and the money you want.
We’ve known for a long time that finding a job that suits your personality type is key if you want to be happy, motivated, and satisfied with your work. Now, European researchers have discovered that people whose personality preferences align with the types that are ideal for their jobs are also more likely to earn a higher salary than people who are not so perfectly matched.
This is the first study of its kind to show that finding a job that fits your personality can actually boost your income.
How personality fit boosts earnings
Researchers from a number of universities in Europe compared the personality profiles, jobs and annual salary of 8,458 people living in Germany. First, they asked each participant to complete a questionnaire rating the degree to which they believed certain personality statements applied to them.
As well as measuring the participants’ personalities , the researchers also quantified how the participants’ jobs stacked up. For example, they found that a bookkeeping job required a very low level of Extraversion, whereas an actor/director job required a high level. This allowed them to compare the “fit” between a given employee and a given job.
Finally, they compared how the degree of fit contributed to employee income. The results were convincing—the greater the match between an employee’s personality and the ideal personality for the job, the more money that person earned. The researchers called this a “fit bonus.”
A few conclusions stand out:
- Overall, people with personality types that required flexing more due to their work requiring it (a poor match) earned less than their peers.
- People with the best personality-job fit earned up to a month’s salary more than their peers each year.
- The fit bonus predicted a substantially higher income for the most types.
It’s not about skills but fit…
Personality testing should not be used in recruitment criteria as it is not a skills based, however it can be used in career counselling to help get the best fit to lead a happier and potentially more lucrative life. Why having a perfect-match job leads to a higher income, no one’s really sure.
Could it be that people in perfect-fit jobs are happier and therefore more focussed – therefore more efficient at mastering the required skills, thus being rewarded for their superior performance?
Perhaps working in your comfort zone requires less effort, so you have more energy for the extra-mile stuff that makes you stand out compared to your peers? Or maybe those with a fit bonus are simply benefiting from stereotyping—the notion that employees who match the stereotype of a certain profession (for example, being a typical “military man”) are more easily considered for promotions? We don’t know what’s happening, and more research is needed to understand the effect.
For now, this research shows us that your best approach is to find a job that fits your personality type, instead of trying to “improve” yourself or adjust your personality to fit a job that’s clearly not a good fit. If you succeed in finding a job that naturally fits your personality, you’ll not only earn more money—you’ll be happier in your career too.
If you’re questioning whether you should make a career switch—and just which careers might be worth switching to— get in touch via our contact form and take the Myers Briggs MBTI assessment, to help match your personality to careers that could be a good fit.