Scientific Predictors of Career Success

What are the top predictors of career success?

Scientific Predictors of Career Success
Photo by Daniel Chekalov 

Top 5 predictors of career success:

  1. Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
  2. Big 5 Personality Traits
  3. Social Network
  4. Skills
  5. Interest


A high intelligence quotient (IQ) and trait industriousness (hard work) are the best predictors of career success. Leverage (like capital, employees, code, and media) is an IQ and hard work multiplier. If you have a high IQ, are conscientious, know how to use leverage, and are around other smart people, you have an extremely high probability of success.

Work more hours. The average person working 13% more (45 hours vs 40 hours a week) earns 44% more pay, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not at the same job, usually – the willingness to work more hours helps land jobs that pay more per hour.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

IQ is the most accurate measure of intelligence. It has 2 components: (1) non-verbal IQ and (2) verbal IQ. Non-verbal IQ is working memory and reasoning ability. Verbal IQ is knowledge, vocabulary, and verbal comprehension.

IQ cannot be increased. There is a biological limit to one's IQ that is set at birth.

Physical exercise is the only known way to prevent an age-related decline in non-verbal IQ.

Big 5 Personality Traits

The Big 5 personality traits test is the most accurate measure of personality. It is made up of 5 traits: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. High conscientiousness is the best predictor of career success. Conscientiousness is composed of industriousness (hard work) and orderliness.

Conscientiousness can be increased by setting worthwhile goals and developing habits.

Social Network

Going out and “networking” is a waste of time. Instead, become genuine friends with competent people. As you get older, you will all be in high positions and you’ll have a powerful network.

Additionally, you can move to an area that has many success-minded people, like Silicon Valley or New York City.  


Learn skills:

Coding, writing, reading, public speaking, social skills, networking, and negotiating.

Use leverage:

  1. Capital: Raising money from venture capitalists, friends, family, etc.
  2. Employees: Hiring employees to do the work for you (especially effective if the employees can code or make media content).
  3. Code: Computer programming. Making websites, software, applications, or video games.
  4. Media: Writing books, recording podcasts, making social media content, and writing blog articles.


Interest is a personality trait-like measure of preference in either things or people. Individuals interested in things do better in fields like technology or engineering. Individuals interested in people do better in fields like clinical psychology or nursing. Follow your interest.

Most of the ideas from this article come from this lecture and The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson

Ian Greer © . All rights reserved.