What are character traits?

Last updated: April 23, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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What are character traits?
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Advancing in your career requires building skills and gaining experience. When you write your resume and cover letter, that’s what you probably focus on: your past jobs, your skills, and your education.

But that’s not the whole picture.

Managers and recruiters are also interested in who you are as a person — what are your core values? How do you make decisions? Do you respond well to difficult situations?

To answer those questions, they need to know about your different character traits. Developing positive character traits and learning how to demonstrate them to potential employers is key to career success.

This article will tell you what character traits are and how you can use them to your advantage in the workplace.

What are character traits?

Character traits are qualities that affect how we tend to behave and how we make decisions. They’re the traits that determine things like whether we’re willing to bend the truth or whether we strive to help others.

Character traits can be positive or negative, and they’re not set in stone. We have the ability to develop good traits or work to fix the bad ones.

The difference between character traits and personality traits

When we describe someone, we often talk about their personality traits. Personality is how a person presents externally, and it’s pretty easy to notice.

We might describe one coworker as quiet and serious but say another is energetic and funny. These are personality traits.

Some other examples of personality traits include:

  • Outgoing
  • Pessimistic
  • Confident
  • Funny
  • Agreeable
  • Introverted

Character is deeper.

Character traits relate to our internal compass and include things like honesty, generosity, and patience. They’re harder to read in other people than personality traits are. You might know someone for a long time without knowing about all of their character traits.

You can see a list of 13 character traits at the end of this article.

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Why are character traits important in the workplace?

Being good at your job requires more than hard skills and experience. Employers want to know that employees will make good decisions, work well with others, and be a reliable part of the team.

Character traits affect all of these things.

For example, if someone isn’t honest, their boss might not trust them with valuable company property. Employers might assume that if an employee isn’t disciplined, they will give up quickly on a challenging project. And if the employee lacks courage, they won’t be able to make high-stakes decisions, like those that affect the safety of others or involve large amounts of money.

The character traits required for each type of job are different. One position might require a great deal of courage, while another job requires more patience. Knowing your unique mix of character traits will help you choose a job that suits you well.

Character traits aren’t set in stone. Understanding your personal character traits can help you strengthen the good ones and try to improve on the bad ones.

Employers want to know about your character traits as much as your other qualifications, but it can be challenging to convey them to a hiring manager.

Mention your character traits in your resume summary

Your resume should start with a short summary or profile describing yourself. It’s easy to work a few character traits into it.

Think about your traits and which ones match the job, then use them in your summary. You might call yourself a dedicated event planner, talk about how your creative thinking helps you solve problems at your IT job, or mention what a responsible production worker you are.

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Put your character traits in your cover letter

A resume lists your qualifications, while a cover letter elaborates on why you’re great for the job.

In your cover letter, give examples of how you’ve demonstrated positive character traits in the past. For example, you might showcase your persistence by talking about a time when you worked hard to overcome an obstacle.

Talk about your character traits in an interview

A lot of employers make it easy by asking, “How would you describe yourself?

In that case, you can speak directly about your positive traits. For other interview questions, you can use the same tactic you did in your cover letter — give examples of times when you demonstrated good character traits.

13 examples of character traits that will benefit your career

If you’re a job seeker, these 13 character traits will impress recruiters and hiring managers. They’ll also make you better at your job and more likely to get promoted.

Read this list and think about whether you have each trait. If you do, you can try to emphasize them in your job search.

Everyone is different, and it’s not important to have all of the good character traits. But you might discover a few that you’d like to work on in the future.


52% of hiring managers and recruiters say that loyalty is the top character trait they look for in a candidate.

Loyalty means that you support the company and its mission. You’re committed to its success and believe that it has your best interests in mind.


Ambition is about more than climbing the career ladder (although that can be the result). Ambitious employees focus on a goal and work hard to achieve it.

Employers want ambitious employees because they work hard and aren’t afraid of a challenge.


Discipline is about willpower and self-control.

A disciplined person keeps working hard, even when work isn’t fun and it’s tempting to slack off. Employers love disciplined employees because they don’t need to be micromanaged. Employees with self-discipline can always be trusted to work hard.


A responsible person can be trusted to do the job and do it well. They consistently meet deadlines and produce high-quality work.

When employees demonstrate responsibility and dependability, they’re likely to be rewarded with a growing role in the company.


You’ve probably heard that it’s a virtue. Hiring managers certainly think so.

Patient people don’t get upset when something goes wrong or anxious about a delay. They accept that it may take a long time to see the results of their efforts.


It’s easy to keep going when there are no obstacles in your way. People with this character trait keep going even in the face of challenge.

Persistence is essential in many positions, including management roles. 37% of managers strongly agree that they felt a lot of stress on their most recent workday. A persistent person keeps working towards their goals, even in stressful situations.


A creative person has original ideas. They can solve problems in unique ways, and they see things from multiple perspectives.

If you have this trait, employers are looking for you. Creativity is considered the number one soft skill in short supply. That’s because creative people think of things that others can’t.

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If you work with people, whether they’re coworkers or customers, compassion is important. A compassionate employee might sympathize with a client’s struggle or help a coworker overcome a challenge.

Everyone enjoys having a compassionate colleague, and you’re likely to develop a positive reputation because of it.


Don’t let all your positive character traits go to your head — be humble.

Humble employees can admit when they’ve made a mistake. If they’re not an expert, they learn from someone who is. And they don’t take full credit for accomplishments that were a team effort.


An honest employee is sincere and transparent. They’re trusted by their boss, their peers, and the teams they lead. They're ethical and have strong moral principles.


Some jobs involve physical danger. Some are risky in other ways.

A courageous employee isn’t afraid to make big decisions, even ones that could have serious consequences. They don’t back down from a challenge, and they don’t avoid difficult responsibilities.


How do you react when things don’t go like you want them to? If you have this character trait, you adapt easily.

Flexible people don’t get upset when plans change. In fact, they're eager to try a new approach if necessary. They aren’t committed to just one perspective, but remain open-minded.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions and to understand and empathize with the emotions of other people.

High emotional intelligence allows you to:

  • Deal well with stress
  • Maintain good relationships with your colleagues
  • Motivate your team
  • Communicate clearly
  • Diffuse conflict effectively
  • Understand when a colleague is upset and react properly

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The list of character traits above focuses on the positive, but don't forget about negative character traits. We all have them! Many of them are opposites of the traits above.

If you know which ones you have, you can work to improve.

Stand out from the crowd and land your dream job

Character traits are important because they affect a person’s behavior. Emphasizing positive character traits in your job search can set you apart from other applicants.

Work to understand your own character traits and develop the best ones. Then let recruiters know how those character traits make you perfect for the job.

For more job search tips, visit the Jobcase Getting Hired Resource Center.



Mary Jerome
Bullet point

Thank you Kai!

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Mary Jerome
Bullet point

Oh my gosh. Thank you for this article and advice! I had an awesome interview and I used these key words to describe myself and guess what? Within a few hours I was offered a supervisor job! I’m so excited.

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