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Career Success Predictors

Objective Predictors of Career Success

  • Promotions — advancement or transfer of position. (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005)
  • Salary Level — level of pay within a position, increased income over time period — (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005)
  • Motivation — Putting in more effort in performing task for better job performance outcome. (Katzell and Thompson, 1990; Ng. Vroom, 1964)

Subjective Predictors of Career Success

  • Career Satisfaction — (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005) The satisfaction individuals derive from intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of their career, including pay, advancement, and developmental opportunities (Greenhaus, Parasuraman, & Wormley, 1990) Accumulated positive work and psychological outcomes resulting from one’s work experiences (Seibert & Kraimer, 2001)
  • Human Capital — a combination of one’s education, personal characteristics, and professional experiences (Ng, Eby, Sorensen, & Feldman, 2005)
    • Education - Level of education (high school, college degree, graduate degree)
    • Professional Experiences - Number of hours worked (Ng. Gladwell, 2008; Judge and Bretz, 1994; Bretz and Judge, 1994; Schneer and Reitman, 1990, 1993), job involvement, job and organization tenure (e.g., length of time at that specific job) (e.g., Judge and Bretz, 1994; Judge et al., 1995; Powell and Butterfield, 1994, 1997; Stroh et al., 1992), work experience (e.g., number of years worked), willingness to transfer, international work experience, political knowledge and skills, and having a career plan (Aryee and Yaw, 1993).
    • Stable Individual Differences/ Personal Characteristics - Personality traits that can support or prevent career development (Ng. Bell & Shaw, 1989), (Costa & McCrae, 1992)
      • Neuroticism - Having anxiety, hostility, depression, self-consciousness, vulnerability and impulsiveness.
      • Conscientiousness - Being hard working, persistent, responsible, careful, planful, organized, and having a need for achievement, order, and persistence.
      • Extroversion - Being sociable, active, impulsive, positive, a leader, being self-occupied.
      • Agreeableness - Is cooperative, trusting of others, caring, likable, good-natured, cheerful, and gentle.
      • Openness to Experience - Is philosophical, intellectual, imaginative, autonomous, and nonconforming. Suggests that open individuals are more likely to emerge as leaders and be effective leaders. (Sosik, Kahai, & Avolio, 1998)
  • Proactivity — Taking action to influence environments, unconstrained by situational forces and effects environmental changes. Identifying opportunities for self-improvement and act upon them. Showing initiative and persevere until change happens. (Ng, Bateman, & Crant, 1993), (Festinger, 1954) Proactive individuals select and create situations that enhance the likelihood of high levels of job performance. (Ng, Crantm 1995)
  • Sponsored Mobility — Investment in career development is limited to those who are recognized and receive support from their supervisor/organization to move up in position (Ng. Rosenbaum, 1984)
  • Socio-Demographic Status — Position in career is influenced by individuals’ demographic and social backgrounds such as gender, race, marital status and age (Thomas W.H. Ng. et al, 2005), (Ng. Greenhaus, 1990), (Ng. Turban &Dougherty, 1994)


Bateman, T.S., & Crant, J.M. (1993). The proactive component of organizational behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 103-118.

Costa, P.T., & McCrae, R.R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory and NEO five-factor inventory professional manual.

Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Ng, T. W. H, Eby, L. T., Sorensen, K. L., & Feldman, D. C. (2005), Predictors of objective and subjective career success: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 58, 367-408.

Judge, T. (1994). An empirical investigation of the predictors of executive career success. (Master's thesis, Cornell University ).

Judge, T. (2002). Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review.

Seibert SE, Kraimer ML. The five-factor model of personality and career success. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 58, 1-21.