15 Top Character Traits With Definitions and Examples
Updated June 30, 2023
Your character traits represent your personality, morals, ethics and beliefs. Many employers can evaluate your qualifications for a position by determining your most prominent character traits. Knowing your best character traits can help you develop them further and use them to your advantage in your career, from writing an interesting resume or cover letter to requesting a promotion.
In this article, we discuss character traits with a definition and a list of 15 examples of traits you can use in your career and resume.
Character traits are part of your behaviors, beliefs and personality that help others understand who you are personally and professionally.
There are many character traits that you can develop, such as honesty, flexibility and curiosity.
From writing your resume to earning a promotion, you can use your character traits to improve your career.
What are character traits?
Character traits are individual parts of your personality and behavior that express who you are as a person. These aspects of your personality can tell a hiring manager how you work with others or handle tasks. Highlighting your best and most relevant character traits in your resume and interview can help you get hired and give potential employers an idea of your qualifications or personality.
Related: How To Ask for a Character Reference
The image shows "Character Traits," in the center of the image. The definition reads: Having a strong character means making decisions based on a set of core values. Here are several examples of positive character traits.
Each example is in a circle and creates a larger circle around the text and definition. The examples include: ambitious, creative, compassionate, patient, courageous, flexible, honest, humble, honorable, loyal, conscientious, persistent, resilient, disciplined
15 examples of character traits
While many character traits can contribute to career success, here are some of the top ones that can help you advance in the workplace:
An ambitious person has a strong desire to achieve success by meeting their goals. You may show ambition when you apply hard work and dedication to overcome a challenge or exceed company objectives. Ambition may also mean taking on additional work or putting in extra effort to reach your desired outcome.
Someone creative can use their imagination to make or invent something. Creativity skills apply not only to artistic roles. It requires creativity to solve a difficult problem, present information in a clear, interesting way or find better ways to complete tasks.
A compassionate person can feel and express sympathy for others. You may display compassion when you help a colleague overcome a difficult challenge or provide emotional support to someone experiencing a challenging time. Employers desire candidates who show compassion in every role, but it can especially help those interested in customer service roles or client-facing positions.
Someone with conscientious traits acts carefully and takes purposeful action. They aim to do what's right and to fulfill a duty. Conscientious people also have a higher level of self-discipline and strive to complete every task to the best of their ability.
A courageous employee doesn't feel deterred by challenges and difficulties. They're likely to take on projects others fear may be too hard or require too much work. They may also take more calculated risks in the workplace, which can lead to gains for a company and help them identify new ideas or strategies.
Flexible individuals can quickly adapt to changes in plans, such as shortened project timelines or new client needs. The ability to modify your behaviors based on changes in the work environment can help you succeed in fast-paced roles and companies. Many employers look for flexible candidates to ensure that they can complete their duties even when handling new ideas or environments.
An honest person appears sincere and truthful and may not feel comfortable participating in deceptive practices. While all positions require honesty, it's especially important in heavily regulated industries such as health care and finance positions. Many roles that require ethical parameters rely on the specialists to have and practice honesty.
Humble individuals can exercise humility and maintain their modesty throughout their careers. They avoid boasting about their accomplishments and act respectfully when earning praise or recognition. Many leaders display this trait to ensure the entire team receives credit for achieving a goal.
9. Honorable (Integrity)
Someone honorable has integrity and acts according to their principles and ethics. Honorable employees ensure they always behave in ways that reflect positively on the company where they work. Companies and positions that rely on brand relationships and public perception often look for honorable candidates who display the values and integrity of the organization.
A loyal employee is supportive of an organization and its mission. Someone loyal can be trusted with sensitive information and may stay at a company long-term. Organizations often value loyalty, as it saves them money and reduces the time and resources necessary for employee turn-over processes.
Patient people can tolerate setbacks, delays or unexpected challenges without becoming anxious or angry. Having patience provides an essential requirement for jobs where it can take a long time to see the results of your efforts, such as when leading a marketing team or campaign. Many employers and coworkers value patience because it can improve the work environment and create a positive culture.
Employees who have persistence work in relentless pursuit of goals. They continue along their path despite any obstacles or difficulties they face along the way. Persistence serves as an excellent trait for someone in a role that requires frequent requests and rejections, such as sales, journalism, public service or law.
A resilient person refers to someone who can quickly recover from setbacks, stress, adverse situations or unexpected changes. For example, you may practice resilience as an employee when you cannot meet a goal, but you quickly put together a plan to exceed your next objective. Having this trait means you can work with increased efficiency and maintain a positive and productive attitude.
Someone with self-discipline can overcome temptations to stray from the path to success, such as procrastination and self-doubt. Self-disciplined employees work hard and often need little to no supervision. Many leadership positions or roles with a high level of independence require candidates to have advanced discipline.
Curiosity is an important character trait that can drive someone to want to know or learn new skills, information and abilities without being asked beforehand. Curious employees are valued for their ability to independently motivate themselves to learn and grow in their roles and work. Many types of jobs rely on curiosity, especially jobs described as open-ended, flexible and strategic.
Related: Personality Assessments for Jobs
The image is titled "Character Reference Letter." It shows the format and sections of a character reference letter. On both sides of the letter are the sections that need to be included in the letter.
The relationship of the reference to the candidate
How long the reference has known the candidate
Positive personal qualities, including specific examples
A statement of recommendation
The reference's contact information
The letter reads:
Dear Hiring Manager,
I have known Manish Patel for more than seven years. He and I met while volunteering as mentors for the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club and he also offered his consulting services to my small business, helping me improve my website and increase web traffic.
Manish is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and innovative people I've had the pleasure of working with in any capacity. He is also compassionate, kind and never misses the opportunity to help others. Once while we volunteered together at the Boys and Girls Club, the events coordinator became very sick. Manish stepped in to finalize plans and ensure the children's holiday party wasn't canceled — even working late into the evening and sacrificing an entire weekend.
Manish is the type of person you can count on to keep a cool head in a stressful situation, and his positive attitude is contagious.
For these reasons, I recommend Manish for the Marketing Manager position and believe he would be a valuable asset to any organization fortunate enough to have him on their team.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
Why are character traits important in the workplace?
When you know your best character traits, you can work to strengthen them. This can help you in a multitude of ways, from advancing your career and achieving goals to developing relationships and growing your professional network. Character traits can also help you make decisions that align with your values. For example, you may identify yourself as courageous, and as a result, you may be more inclined to stand up for what you believe in or make a tough decision at work.
Using character traits in your job search
Review the traits listed and carefully consider which of them you possess or identify with. Once you know your best attributes, be sure to address them in your resume, cover letter and interviews. Here are some ways to highlight your most relevant character traits throughout the job search process:
Character traits in your resume
You can weave your character traits into your resume summary by including language such as:
“4+ years of experience building creative solutions for an enterprise sales team.”
Also, include them in your work experience descriptions. For example, you can include a bullet point that reads:
“Maintained flexibility during company-wide restructure due to COVID-19 and implemented successful work from home processes under a tight deadline.”
Character traits in your cover letter
When writing a cover letter, display character traits that apply to the specific job listing. For instance, for a role in customer service, you can highlight a time you exercised patience and compassion. Try to identify the values, requirements and duties of the position or organization and emphasize the traits you have that align with the role.
Character traits in your interview
You can also benefit from working your best character traits into your responses to behavioral and situational interview questions such as “what are your greatest strengths?” or “tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge.” Remember, it's important to be specific when answering interview questions, so strive to share stories and experiences of times when you exhibited these traits in a professional setting.
Highlighting character traits for career advancement
When an employer can recognize your character traits, it gives them a better sense of your strengths. Your character traits can provide insight into how you can perform new job duties, communicate with peers, manage stress and handle high-pressure situations. For example, if an employer seeks to promote someone to a management position and you're interested in the opportunity, you may remind them of your perceptive, empathetic, motivational and strategic traits. These specific traits show that you can identify the needs of the team, understand their pain points, drive them to reach goals and determine the steps to achieve objectives.
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