Understanding the link between personal qualities and your career success

Understanding the link between personal qualities and your career success
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 28 February, 2024

Developing hard skills alone may not be enough in today's world to succeed in the workplace. In a culture where saving 'face' is a high priority, we also need positive personal qualities to carry ourselves well.  

Being kind when we talk to others and staying strong during tough times is key to doing well. 

We'll talk about how these traits can make us happier, help us do better at work, and be more generally successful. 

Whether you're just starting your job or want to improve, this guide aims to help you. It will help you understand how good qualities can help you. Here's what we'll cover:

What are personal qualities? 

A skill is something you do or learn, while personal qualities are more about your character. They're the unique personal attributes that shape how you think, act, and interact with others. Here are three ways to identify your personal qualities. 

Ask people who know you well 

Talk to friends, family members, colleagues, or mentors. Ask them what they think your positive traits are. What do they admire about your personality? What situations do your personality shine best in?  

Think about your personality 

Take time to reflect on your behaviour, values, and preferences. Think about which qualities you use in different parts of your life and how they show up. Are you someone who adapts well to last-minute changes on a project? How do you navigate failure at work? These reflections can help you understand your personal qualities better. 

Pay attention to what you do 

Become aware of your actions and behaviours in different situations. Start noting the qualities that guide your decision-making and interactions with others. For example, taking charge and leading others can bring confidence, initiative, and the ability to inspire. 

Why do personal qualities matter? 

Developing good personal qualities or characteristics is important to your career. They help you grow credibility. You can communicate better, build strong relationships, and handle conflicts. They also help you work well in a leadership position. Let's look at some positive personal qualities: 


Resilience is key to helping you learn and adapt to new challenges with grace. It helps you embrace new opportunities, acquire new skills, and stay relevant. It is important to keep up with the way the world is evolving. This is especially true with our current technological advancements.  

Interpersonal skills 

Knowing how to communicate well is important for any job. Saving 'face' is important here, so communicating with tact and empathy is crucial for connection.  

Taking great care in being polite and not offending in speech creates a harmonious environment.  

It helps people share what they think and feel more freely and lets you get to know them better. Being good at communication helps you make friends, work well with others, and improve your workplace. 

Relationship building 

Social hierarchies and relationships matter at work. People adjust their behaviour to show the right level of respect.  

Respect, trust, and friendliness are vital. They are key to building good connections with colleagues, clients, and higher-ups.  

Building relationships can lead to opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and professional growth. 

Conflict resolution 

Conflicts can happen at work. But patience, understanding, and diplomacy can help you resolve them. These qualities help you approach conflicts with empathy, find common ground, and reach outcomes that benefit everyone involved. 

How personal qualities affect career success? 

Two men in a business meeting

The way you carry yourself has a significant impact on your success. Developing good personal qualities is important for you and those who hire you. 

Why does it matter to employers? 

Employers look for job seekers who fit well with the company's culture. When employees align with company culture, it dramatically impacts morale, engagement, and productivity. It can even contribute to the company's success.  

Here, the concept of Budi is important. It means to be gracious, polite, good-natured, and calm, with a modest approach to life. This translates to desirable workplace attributes.  

Bosses like upbeat and helpful workers who support what the company stands for and wants to achieve. They also really appreciate workers eager to do well, can deal with tough times, and pay close attention to the small things. Positive personal qualities can help you perform better at work. 

Communicating well, caring for others, and working well in a team are important, too. Employers look for people who work well in a team, can solve problems, and help make the workplace happy and efficient. 

What do employers look for? 

Different jobs require people with diverse personal qualities. Leaders need to think ahead and build morale, for example.  

People working with customers must be good listeners and problem solvers who know how to accept constructive criticism. Employers pick people who best fit the task they need to do. 

Hiring managers also like people who want to learn and improve. They like curious people who want to learn new things and can handle challenges. These qualities help you prepare for new opportunities and grow in your job. 

How does it affect your career? 

Here are some ways how your personal qualities can affect your career success:

  • Keep learning: If you want to improve at your job, it's essential to be curious, adaptable, and motivated to keep learning. This can help you grow, try new opportunities, and improve your productivity.
  • Develop your emotional intelligence: Being aware of your own and others' feelings is also important. People with emotional intelligence can communicate better with others. They can also solve problems and get along well with their co-workers.
  • Be responsible: Taking responsibility and working hard is important, too. People who do their jobs well, are self-reliant, and work hard are more likely to do well in their jobs and get rewarded for their hard work. 

Big Five personal traits 

The Big Five, also known as the Five-Factor Model, is a way to understand different types of personalities. It boils down to five major personality traits depicting how people think, feel, and behave. The five character traits are: 


Some people are very curious and like to try new things. Others are more comfortable with what they already know. They may be less open to new ideas. 


Some people are organised and reliable. They like to plan and work hard to achieve their goals. Other people are more relaxed and spontaneous. 


Some people are outgoing and enjoy being around others. They like to be in social situations and may feel energised by them. Others prefer to be alone or in smaller groups. 


Some people are friendly and like to help others. They're sensitive to others' feelings and try to avoid conflict. Other people may be more direct and assertive. 


Some people may experience negative emotions like anxiety or stress more easily than others. Others may be more emotionally stable and handle stress better. 

Examples of personal qualities 

Man with coffee looking at laptop

People have qualities that can affect their lives and relationships differently. Some qualities are more positive than others.  

But it's important to remember that personal traits can affect situations differently. 

It's good to have a balanced approach and use the positive aspects of these qualities while being aware of their negative effects. 

Some qualities you can learn by attending an education course, while others develop through practice. Here's a list of personal qualities and attributes that you can develop:  


Having confidence means believing in yourself and your abilities. It helps you take risks, do challenging tasks, and be a good leader. However, being too confident might border on arrogance and lead to not listening to other people or working well with them. 


If you're loyal, you're devoted and trustworthy in your relationships. This helps develop trust and strong connections. But if you're too loyal without a moral compass, you might support negative views or ignore bad behaviour. 


Reliability involves earning trust by fulfilling your commitments. This builds your credibility, makes you dependable and helps you work well with others. But if you become too reliable without personal boundaries, you might overtly people-pleasing and burn out. 


Being flexible means that you can adapt to change. This helps you deal with new situations and find creative solutions. But if you're too flexible, you might not develop strong opinions or values, and others might easily influence you. 


Having ambition means you want to achieve great things and be successful. This can motivate you to work hard and grow. But being too ambitious might lead you to do the wrong things to succeed or put yourself ahead of others. 


Being open means you're willing to listen and learn from others. This helps you understand and appreciate different perspectives. But being too open could affect your opinions, making it easier for others to influence you. 

Bottom line 

Overall, it's important to have positive personal qualities to be successful in your career. These qualities can help you grow, communicate better, make friends at work, and handle problems.  

Employers like workers with qualities that match the company culture and honour the unspoken norms of saving face and budi. These traits can help them do a good job and work well with others.  

Companies also want workers who have the right qualities for the job they're hiring for and who have the potential to grow. 

Understanding other people's feelings can help you work better with them. Being careful and hardworking can help you do your job well, and confidence, loyalty, and flexibility can help you make a good impression at work. 


  1. What are primary personality traits? 
    ⁠Primary personality traits are the main qualities of a person's personality. They govern their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours consistently. 
  2. What are the Big Five personality traits? 
    ⁠The Big Five is a five-factor model of personality traits that describes how people behave and think. These categories are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. 
  3. How can positive qualities contribute to personal growth? 
    ⁠Positive qualities help people grow by making them more resilient, self-motivated, and adaptable. Curiosity, a drive to achieve something, and openness to new things help you keep learning. They let you see the world in new ways and try out chances to grow. 
  4. What personal qualities are the most important? 
    ⁠The type of personal qualities that matter can change based on the situation or job. Here, carrying yourself in a way that saves face, shows respect, and interacts with tact is the unspoken norm within most workplaces. Pairing that with resilience, relationship-building, and reliability makes for a star employee. 
  5. How can positive qualities contribute to success in the workplace? 
    ⁠Positive personal traits can help people succeed at work. They do this by promoting good communication, teamwork, and professionalism. Integrity, reliability, and empathy help you build strong relationships. And they also help you navigate workplace dynamics. They also help you contribute to a positive and productive work environment.  
    ⁠Ambition, creativity, and self-motivation drive individual performance, career growth, and professional achievement. 
  6. In the Malaysian job market, what personal qualities do employers seek most? 
    ⁠In Malaysia, employers like workers who are good at working in teams, respect the order of who is in charge and can adapt to different cultures. They value qualities like being dependable, respectful, leading, and working well with others.  
    ⁠Employers are happy with workers who can add good things to the workplace and fit in with the company's beliefs and actions. 

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