Career Development

Conscientiousness: Signs You Have the Big 5 Personality Trait

March 25, 2020

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According to the highly regarded Big 5 personality test, an individual's personality is defined by five traits, one of which is conscientiousness. People who display conscientious qualities are typically hard workers and make good team players, which makes them highly sought after in the workplace.

In this article, we explore the characteristics of a conscientious person, explain how you can develop this marketable quality and look at some jobs that typically require high conscientiousness.

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What is conscientiousness?

Conscientiousness is essentially a form of awareness. Conscientious individuals are typically well organised, plan their time carefully and demonstrate self-control. They're also highly efficient, ensuring that each moment of their time is put to the best possible use.

Some people have a natural tendency to be conscientious, but don't worry if this doesn't yet apply to you. With practice and patience, you can develop many of the characteristics associated with conscientious people.

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What are the benefits of conscientiousness?

If you are a conscientious person, you usually have a strong desire to complete objectives, no matter how big or small. Conscientious people are extremely detail-oriented. They rarely make mistakes or overlook important information . Managers respect this kind of consistency and dependability, which is why they're more inclined to trust conscientious people with important tasks. Smooth delivery of such tasks can often lead to raises and promotions.

There are also health benefits associated with conscientiousness that can positively impact an individual's work. If a person is conscientious, they are more likely to pay attention to what they eat, when they exercise and how much sleep they get. Being healthy can increase your alertness, mental ability and productivity.

In addition, those who are conscientious typically think through decisions before they act. They consider all the potential consequences of their actions and safeguard against any negative outcomes . This kind of critical thinking is a highly desirable soft skill among employers.

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Characteristics of conscientious people

Conscientious people may demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Commitment: Those who are conscientious make a plan and stick to it. They may even find it fulfilling to work through a to-do list. Commitment includes showing up early and possibly leaving late in order to get everything finished on time.

  • Efficiency: Conscientious people strive to avoid waste of both time and resources. They do so by trying to find the most elegant solution to any issue.

  • Emotional intelligence: Nearly every industry values emotional intelligence. Conscientious people demonstrate awareness of their teams' and customers' reactions during conversations and encounters. With high conscientiousness, you can interpret nonverbal communication patterns, match tone and mood and have better interactions with both colleagues and clients.

  • Thoroughness: Conscientious individuals are detail-oriented and typically prefer quality over quantity. When faced with a project, they explore every nook and cranny to ensure that their final product is flawless. If an error slips through, the conscientious person learns from their mistakes and adapts their processes to avoid them in the future.

  • Dependability: Conscientious people are reliable. If they say they're going to do something, you can consider it done. Team members and managers trust a conscientious coworker to help on any kind of project.

  • Organisation: Conscientious employees usually keep an organised workspace and schedule. While other people might get distracted by clutter and confusion, the conscientious person always knows how to find the things they need, and they never forget an appointment.

Few people are conscientious all the time. You may excel in some areas on this list but not others. If so, don't worry. There's plenty you can do to improve your skills.

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Tips for becoming more conscientious

Being conscientious comes naturally for some people. For others, it takes practice. Here are a few things you can do to be more conscientious:

  • Prioritise. Order your projects, beginning with the most important. Complete tasks that your coworkers need first or ones that have an approaching deadline. Give each project your full attention and best effort. Try to create a thorough schedule for your projects that allows you sufficient time to produce quality work. By ordering your projects and giving them plenty of time, you can increase the quality of your work and be less likely to make mistakes.

  • Focus. Reduce distractions while you work. Keep only work-related internet tabs open, and place your smartphone out of reach until you have a break. When you focus on your duties, you can get more done in less time and successfully meet deadlines. If you really struggle to concentrate, try working in short bursts with small, well-defined goals. Every time you reach a goal, reward yourself with a biscuit or your treat of choice.

  • Persevere. There are various techniques you can use to complete a project. If facing a challenge, consider seeking the help of coworkers who can offer a new perspective or may have more experience. Also, try separating a large project into smaller tasks that take less time to finish. Completing smaller tasks can help you gain a sense of accomplishment if you're working on a challenging activity. Resolving to finish the work you start builds trust with your manager and team members.

  • Practice mindfulness. Conscientiousness is all about attention. So is mindfulness, the relaxation technique that has become popular in recent years. By practising mindfulness, you learn to pay extra attention to your environment, even when you're under pressure. This attention will help you spot important details that you might otherwise miss.

  • Ask for guidance. Mentors and life coaches can help you develop techniques to improve conscientious qualities. They can encourage you to be more thoughtful and diligent in your workplace. Try meeting regularly with your mentor to review your progress toward becoming a more conscientious person.

Remember, being conscientious isn't about who you are. It's about what you do. Constantly seek ways to improve by taking note of the most common errors you make and finding systems that help you get things right next time.

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Jobs that typically require conscientiousness

Conscientious people generally thrive in professions that place importance on concentration, attention to detail and accuracy. Here are five jobs to consider if you possess this trait:

National Average Salary: £18,670 per year

Primary Duties: Administrative assistants ensure their workplaces function smoothly. They greet guests, answer phones, respond to emails and order office supplies. Some administrative assistants help with onboarding and human resources duties. Additional responsibilities can include creating spreadsheets, taking notes during meetings and assisting with business travel. Administrative assistants need emotional intelligence and strong attention to detail to oversee workplace operations.

National Average Salary: £40,783 per year

Primary Duties: Software test engineers ensure that software is free of any bugs, inconsistencies and security issues before the program goes live. A test engineer develops test plans that explore every aspect of the software, including presentation and usability. Most software testing is now automated, with the test engineer responsible for designing tests, writing scripts and configuring automated test software. Test engineers may also need to perform some manual testing, which requires a keen eye and an ability to focus on minor details.

National Average Salary: £30,527 per year

Primary Duties: Therapists work with patients to improve mental health. They hold regular appointments with clients to discuss emotions and experiences to develop ongoing treatment plans. Therapists can work with individuals or families who seek guidance in managing their mental health. In some cases, therapists will refer patients to a psychologist or psychiatrist for additional treatment. Therapists need emotional intelligence in order to communicate with clients.

National Average Salary: £38,435 per year

Primary Duties: Commercial pilots work for airlines to transport passengers or freight. They review the condition of the planes, fill out flight itineraries and work closely with a team of aircraft professionals to ensure safe flights. They use a variety of instruments to take off, land and navigate weather patterns. Commercial pilots must have strong organisational skills in order to manage multiple tasks without getting distracted.

National Average Salary: £51,218 per year

Primary Duties: Surgeons in the UK can either be directly employed by the National Health Service (NHS) or work as private consultants. They evaluate and analyse patients' medical histories and create a surgical plan including pre- and post-operation steps. Working closely with a team of medical professionals, surgeons ensure successful operations. They may also prescribe medications such as antibiotics and sedatives. Since surgeons often perform procedures in high-pressure and emergency situations, they must have strong attention to detail and time-management skills.

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