Predicting Early Career Success from Short-Term Personality Development: A Longitudinal Study During the Transition from School to Work



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Research suggests that individual differences in personality levels and changes predict employment outcomes. However, this evidence is limited to long-term longitudinal designs that overlook shorter, impactful life events. This study examined how short-term personality development relates to early career outcomes in two diverse samples of recent graduates from university (N=816) and community college (N=567). Results revealed significant associations between initial personality trait levels (at graduation) and career outcomes 6- and 8-months later. Specifically, initial levels of conscientiousness, emotional stability, and extraversion were positively related to early career success. Initial levels of agreeableness were positively related to subjective success (i.e., job and career choice satisfaction) but not objective success (i.e., income and occupational prestige). Openness was generally unrelated to career outcomes. Contrary to expectations, individual variation in personality changes was not associated with career outcomes, and personality mean-levels tended to decline slightly over time. Overall, these findings indicate that stable personality levels are stronger predictors of early career outcomes compared to short-term changes. Implications are discussed for understanding stable and dynamic personality factors that improve the likelihood of early career success.



Personality, Traits, Development, Career success, Community college