Career Advice for Job Seekers

Your DiSC personality: How and why it matters to your job search

William Frierson AvatarWilliam Frierson
January 23, 2015


What if we tell you that your career success – or lack of it – hinges on a single letter?

No, we’re not talking about your GPA. We’re not even talking about accidentally writing Mr. instead of Ms. in your cover letter when addressing a female recruiter.

We’re talking about your DiSC personality. 

What Is DiSC?

On the surface, DiSC looks like just another personality test, similar to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. It’s more than that, though. It’s used by 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies to understand behaviors and develop teams.

Specifically, DiSC measures to what degree you are Dominant, influential, Steady or Conscientious, and how these traits affect the way you function in the workplace. It’s a pretty good indicator of what jobs suit you best, how well you fit into a company’s culture and how you’ll contribute to the company’s overall success – all of which are relevant information for any employer worth their salt.

What do these letters mean, exactly? Read on to take a closer look at each of the DiSC traits and what they mean for your job search and career.

Dominance (D) – The Leader

Disc D means dominanceWhen the chips are down, people turn to you. You’re forceful, decisive and no nonsense. You want results, and you want them now. You don’t have much patience for dilly-dallying, or for anything that falls short of your high standards. Basically, you’re CEO material.

However, these traits have a dark side. When you’re too focused on results, you risk railroading over the people who helped you get those results in the first place. If you’re not careful, you’ll develop a reputation as a cold, unapproachable person who cares more about how people benefit you than the people themselves. They may put up with you as long as you get things done, but the moment you fail … well, let’s just say they won’t let you live that down.

Job Search Advice: Emphasize concrete achievements in your resume but don’t forget to credit part of your success to “awesome, hardworking teammates” during the interview.

Career Advice: Take time to listen to others’ ideas, and consider how these fit into the big picture. Then, explain calmly and clearly why certain steps need to be taken to achieve a goal – whether these steps incorporate your co-workers ideas or not. Preferably, they should.

Also, don’t be afraid to show your goofy, less-than-perfect side once in a while. Your colleagues will appreciate it, as long as you don’t go overboard.

Ideal Jobs: Manager, department head – any job that makes the best use of your formidable leadership skills.

Influence (i) – The Charmer

Disc C means charmerYou are a people person. You genuinely enjoy the company of others, and they return the favor. The mere sight of you vaporizes any tension in the office because you go out of your way to chat with people and make them feel good about themselves and their work. If your company has a Mr./Ms. Congeniality award, you’ll probably win it.

Sometimes, though, you take your closeness with people a little too far. You don’t think twice about gossiping behind someone’s back if it means getting into someone else’s good graces. Also, you often use your gift of gab to get out of trouble – the kind of trouble that would’ve been avoided if you didn’t give in to your foot-in-mouth tendencies in the first place.

Job Search Advice: Of the four types, you’re the one who won’t have problems swaying interviewers to your side. That said, try to let your achievements speak for themselves, instead of embellishing them and causing experienced recruiters to doubt your credibility.

Career Advice: It’s OK to promise the moon, the stars and the entire Milky Way galaxy – as long as you’re able to deliver on that promise. Use your ability to empathize with others to become more sensitive to their feelings.

Ideal Jobs: Salesperson, public relations officer – any job that requires networking and dealing with people within a fast-paced environment.

Steadiness (S) – The Peacekeeper

Disc S means steadinessYou are the proverbial glue that holds the group together. Like the Charmer, you genuinely like people, but you express this by maintaining cordial relationships with your co-workers, rather than pumping them up with motivational speeches and jokes. You are patient, attentive and reliable; of the four types, you’re the one who’s least likely to rock the boat, so to speak.

There’s nothing egregiously wrong with you – which is both a good and a bad thing. You’re just so OK with everything, so unwilling to go against the status quo, that memorable is the last word people think of when describing you. When faced with conflict, you do everything in your power to keep it from escalating, even if it’s at your expense.

Job Search Advice: Emphasize how your cooperative nature played a significant role in your previous teams. If the interviewer asks you a question about how you deal with conflict, pick an event where your willingness to compromise helped all the parties involved.

Career Advice: Be more assertive. You don’t have to be loud; you just need to be more willing to express yourself in a calm, reasonable way whenever necessary. If you keep quiet when people walk all over you, they’re going to take your silence as an OK and heap their abuse on you again and again.

Ideal Jobs: Human resource officer, business process specialist – any job that makes use of your exceptional relational skills and attention to law and order.

Conscientiousness (C) – The Thinker

Disc C means conscientious You’re an idea person. You have the same drive to meet high standards as the Leader does, but you’re not as interested in handling people. In fact, you’d rather work alone, and if pressed to make a decision on behalf of a group, you’d rather gather all the facts first before you say anything.

Because of this, you’re prone to analysis paralysis. You also have trouble communicating your ideas to others, since you’re more concerned with precision than clarity. When things go wrong, you crack and automatically blame yourself for it, even if other forces are at play. Like the worst type of Leader, you risk coming across as a robot in human skin every time you fail to factor the human element into your daily interactions and decisions.

Job Search Advice: Work on communicating clearly and confidently. Even if you’re applying for a job in the engineering or IT fields, your lack of communication skills can work against you, since it’s one of the top five skills employers want to see in fresh graduates.

Career Advice: Perfect information is only possible in a perfect world. Be open to the input of others, even if they seem illogical at first glance. Understand that even the best-laid plans aren’t immune to Murphy’s Law – Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Be more assertive with your co-workers.

Ideal Jobs: Accountant, programmer – any job that requires rigorous analysis and independent work.

Actually, everyone has these four qualities – albeit to varying degrees. It’s a matter of being aware of them so you can take advantage of your strengths, work around your weaknesses and become an asset to every company you decide to work for. With a good understanding of your DiSC profile, your job search will be a cinch and you’ll be living the dream in your new job.


Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

About Sarah Landrum: Sarah is a Penn State graduate who moved to Harrisburg to become a writer and PR Specialist. She enjoys writing about a variety of career-related topics on her blog, Punched Clocks. Sarah scores high in D and C traits on the DiSC assessment.

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