Self-confidence the secret to workplace advancement

October 18, 2012

(—The old saying "fake it until you make it" might actually be sound professional advice, with new University of Melbourne research finding self-confidence is a key determinant of workplace success.

Drawing upon more than 100 interviews with professional staff in in Melbourne, New York and Toronto, the found a strong correlation between confidence and occupational success

Participants were asked to describe their level of confidence at primary school, high school, university, and present day. Those who self-reported higher levels of confidence earlier in school earned better wages, and were promoted more quickly.

Lead author Dr Reza Hasmath, from the University's School of Social and Political Sciences, said the research demonstrates a crucial ingredient of workplace advancement.

"The implications are tremendous in terms of the personality employers should look for when it comes to hiring or promoting staff,"Dr Hasmath said.

The findings also shed new light on previous studies that argued the existence of 'erotic capital', meaning better looking people are more likely to get ahead in the workplace, or studies which indicate taller people earn higher salaries.

"We now know it's actually higher confidence levels—which may be a byproduct of attractiveness and height—which make all the difference," said Dr Hasmath.

"The findings imply that we should stress confidence-building activities at an early age. Such activities should be strongly encouraged both in formal schooling and within the family unit."

The full study—"The ," which also looks at , hiring and promotion processes in the large corporations—will be released at the end of the year.

It further suggests that workers who described themselves as 'extroverted', 'neurotic', 'open to experiences' or 'agreeable' (standard indicators of conscientiousness) were also found to be more motivated, and doing well professionally in terms of wages and career advancement.

"Interestingly, members of visible ethnic minorities reported lower rates of , but similar levels of conscientiousness," Dr Hasmath said.

"This may partially explain why their wages and rates of advancement are consistently lower than members of a non-visible ethnic minority."

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