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Ability and Personality Predictors of Salary, Perceived Job Success, and Perceived Career Success in the Initial Career Stage


  • Research support was provided by the Coleman Chair Fund and Subhedar Chair Fund. We would like to thank George Dreher and anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Portions of these data were presented at the 2006 Academy of Management Meeting in Atlanta, GA.


Using longitudinal data from a sample of recent college graduates, we examined the effects of ability (general mental ability and emotional intelligence) and personality (Big Five and proactive personality) on extrinsic (i.e., salary) and intrinsic (i.e., perceived job and career success) indicators of career success. Results from regression analyses indicated that gender, extroversion, and agreeableness were the strongest predictors of salary. Emotional stability and proactive personality predicted perceived job success, while extroversion was significantly related to perceived career success. Neither of the ability measures significantly predicted our indicators of extrinsic or intrinsic career success. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.