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What’s your work personality?

12 May 2022 at 1:36 pm
Jonathan Alley
We know workplaces are often diverse. But how much do we think about our own individual professional personality?

Jonathan Alley | 12 May 2022 at 1:36 pm


What’s your work personality?
12 May 2022 at 1:36 pm

We know workplaces are often diverse. But how much do we think about our own individual professional personality?

The job market is undergoing its most fundamental changes in some years. 

Due to pandemic-created conditions, we’re all wondering about the future of work. Hybrid models, long-term projects undertaken remotely, and all the associated cultural changes we’re seeing in the workplace are gradually evolving our everyday work experience.   

But if the nature of work is evolving, so too must attitudes to work. If you’re looking for a new position, it could be an appropriate time to consider what sort of employee you might be. 

Are you an ideas person? A game-changer? A pleaser? A grafter? None of these, or maybe a combination? Of course, these broad terms are only a smattering of ever-evolving description of work personalities, and some of us fit multiple categories.

Recruiters have long utilised personality screening methods when assessing possible candidates. Despite the apparently dry and impersonal nature of the approach, this can also be beneficial. Recruiters scout talent for multiple positions – if you’re not right for the one they have in mind, they may have others at hand, or circle back to you when a role suited to your personal strengths comes up. 

Employers will often shortlist a number of people they believe can perform the role for which they’re recruiting: when you walk into an interview, employers are often aware you’ve got the skills, the overriding question relates to who you are. 

Are you an ideas person?

The job description demanded initiative from a self-starter. “Great,” you thought. “An employer that will let me muck in with loads of ideas from day one, giving me the opportunity to shape my own role and benefit the organisation based on my abilities and experience.”

An admirable aspiration, but often the answer can be “not so fast”. 

Settling into a role takes time: your goals may well be good, but are they the right goals? Which organisational resources are needed to achieve them? What else might take precedence? Which other staff will be affected or needed? That said, don’t shy away from contributing ideas and expressing the initiative to get projects off the ground. Ideas help create solutions and someone new often has a fresh perspective: just don’t expect it to happen right away. Ideas people can be assets, but tempering your aspirations and taking your time may be more rewarding long-term. 

A game-changer? 

You can’t help it, you’re an influencer. You’re passionate about what you do, and from the moment you walk-in, your attitude changes the way those around you think and act. You evolve cultures and ideas naturally by slotting in, getting to know your colleagues and inspiring others. You’re a rare beast, and valuable with it. But sometimes recruiters and employers are wary of extrovert-inspirers like you: large, loud and in love with ideas sounds great, but it’s more valuable if you’re aware of the personality traits around you. “Your way or the highway” won’t fly, but if you’re impassioned while also mindful of the work personalities of others, you’ll be a valuable asset. 

The pleaser 

You’re in early, and you leave a little later. Your lunch breaks are never a minute over time. Your work shines, management loves you, and you’re soon the envy of your colleagues. Well, go you. But, give yourself a break! Nobody (absolutely nobody) keeps this up over an extended period without the chinks showing: what’s the personal cost? Are you achieving a good work/life balance? Is your work-life authentic? Don’t over pressurise yourself into keeping excessive (rather than admirably high) standards for yourself.  


You don’t get everything quickly, but once you’re trained up, your head is down. Results do not shower from the sky in your first few weeks, but light up gradually. As you establish the right external and internal relationships, you steam ahead; your colleagues wonder how you pulled off that deal, got that project approved, found that perfect external spokesperson. You’re a valuable staff member: but remember to communicate when needed. If nobody knows what you’re doing or why, it can cause problems. 

Jonathan Alley  |  @ProBonoNews

Jonathan Alley is opinion editor at Pro Bono Australia.

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