Site icon QHU Blog

What Role Do Genes Play in Career Choice

career choice

Genes influence work-related behavior. 

The aspects of work we prefer, our readiness to change jobs and start our own businesses or our willingness to pursue a leadership position are all influenced by our genes.

According to the prof. Scott Shane, genes affect our preference for autonomy suggesting why some people are more inclined to quit their jobs and found their own companies. 

Environmental factors are not the sole reasons why people do what they do in organizations. Instead, genetic factors play a significant part in how people engage in workplace behaviors.

The personality, attitude, skills, and abilities we bring to the workplace suggest that we are more likely to pursue career paths due to our genes. 

We are more likely to feel comfortable in certain careers because of our inheritance.

Is Our Career Predetermined?

People often ask themselves why they have become a researcher, or a teacher, or an engineer.

The answer to this question is likely in how genetics affect people’s general view of the world in a positive or negative manner. 

We inherit not only intelligence and personality but also views about whether we are great at math, whether we are rich or poor, whether we are happy with our jobs, and whether we want more.

A wide range of human behaviors, including career choice are predetermined. 

Why someone chases the presidency in a company or works in the same position the whole career has much to do with what we’re made of. 

What we do in terms of employment-related dimensions such as work interests, job satisfaction, job choice, job performance, and income is all genetic.

An interesting study on twins’ behavior showed that we choose careers based on intrinsic job satisfaction and not extrinsic factors. Whether raised together or apart, the twins have a genetic predisposition to choose similar occupations.

Intrinsic job satisfaction is related to questions of challenge while working conditions define the extrinsic ones. 

Identical twins who chose the same career occupations also chose those positions out of a common preference.

How We Learn and Perform?

Genetic differences in children explain performance and the joy children find in learning

Given a choice, children will select, modify and create their own educational experiences in part because of their genetic propensities, a concept known as genotype-environment correlation. – Rimfeld, K., Ayorech, Z., Dale, P. S., Kovas, Y., & Plomin

Children are active participants in their learning. Genetic factors influence academic choice and achievement.

Therefore, some people are more likely to engage in the workplace than others who become despondent. 

Learning is at the heart of the decision to engage. 

And why some people choose careers such as mathematics or engineering?

People often choose the engineering profession because of their abilities to hyper systematize — understand complex technical instructions at a fast rate and remember such details with accuracy.

Some of us will prefer intellectually stimulating careers and others the jobs that require working with one’s hands. 

Likewise, genes explain why some people remain in a satisfying career choice despite the low pay or little room for advancement and why some people, who receive a bonus that motivates workers, will still express despondency with their career choice.

Since we also partially inherit our values, we cannot always change our views and adapt.

Thus, it’s important to select a company that shares the same core values and principles, no matter what career you pursue.

This includes pursuing a company because it has a strong company culture and how it affects the workplace.

Genetics and Preference for Autonomy

Genes influence why some people leave their jobs and pursue entrepreneurship. 

The innate desire for autonomy and freedom can push us into business ventures if we are comfortable with associated risks. 

There is more to our DNA when starting a business and here are some factors that contribute to entrepreneurial success:  

Can You Stomach Risk?

Leaving a stable 20-year career for the risky unknown is not for everyone. 

Go-getters, hardworking, well-organized, ambitious, and disciplined people, scoring high in “conscientiousness” are usually those who succeed in those ventures.

Since personality development is inherent in our genetic makeup, a person who leaves a career to become an entrepreneur may claim genes as strong contributors.

Are You Persistent?

Persistence as a personality trait is key to managing your own company. You are starting fresh, and need to focus on long-term goals.

People who are more inclined to quit their jobs and start a company must adapt to a different role and workplace environment.

Most people who have remained at a company for 20 years before leaving have engaged in some supervisory or management positions throughout their tenure. 

Not only that experience helps to make better decisions in your own business but also shows that genes affect our inclination towards management and supervision.

Do You Crave Adventures?

If you are a job hopper in constant pursuit of something better, you might be apt for entrepreneurship. 

Running your own company is demanding, but we all see this differently.

A genetic component is present even in job-hopping and changing occupations. Whether we prefer agrarian work or adventurous work is hereditary. 

A person might change from being a manager to becoming a teacher and not consider it a big deal, while others might consider this an impossible change. 

Our perception is individual and in these cases, the need for adventure and change surpasses the risk perception. 

A desire for autonomy combined with a need for adventure lays the path for entrepreneurship. 

For tenacious people, job stability is not as critical as autonomy which being their own boss naturally brings.

Do You Love Numbers?

Financial professions such as accounting or investment banking require an inherent, passionate love for the numbers. 

Genetics accounts for about 36% of the difference in whether we are attracted to finance. 

This mathematical tendency is beneficial career-wise when combined with other personality traits, for example, when you are good with numbers but also have an inclination toward leadership.

If so, you will naturally strive toward exploring the options of starting a business, and given the interest in numbers, you will be even better at running it. Good financial management is critical for entrepreneurial success.

In Sum

While our career choice is not set in stone, individual genetic makeup plays a role in the steps we take

Our personality, attitude, skills and abilities, and preference for autonomy influence how happy we are in our careers and whether we will make changes often. 

We often choose careers out of a genetic predisposition that reveals our personality traits and our desire to embrace the intrinsic rewards our careers bring and not just external factors.