WORK hard and you will succeed? Fake it until you make it may be more the reality in large corporations, with new research identifying self-confidence as the main factor in getting ahead.
The research into wages and conditions - early findings from a larger study of how ethnic minorities fare in getting hired and promoted - has found a strong correlation between confidence and success at work.
Reza Hasmath, from Melbourne University's school of social and political sciences, is the lead author on The Minority Report, a study of the impact of ethnic minorities in large corporations (workplaces with more than 100 staff).
As part of the research, Dr Hasmath helped interview 107 employees in corporations in Melbourne, New York and Toronto. There were also 23 interviews with employers.
Participants were asked to describe their level of confidence at primary school, high school, university, and the present day. Those who self-reported higher levels of confidence earlier in school also earned better wages and were promoted more quickly.
''The findings imply we should stress confidence-building activities at an early age … both in formal schooling and within the family unit,'' Dr Hasmath said.
''We all, and particularly recent [immigrants], tend to believe that education alone is a passport to good occupational outcomes, that hard work alone will get me high wages.''
But getting a good job, and then rising up the career chain, had as much to do with ''the ability to fit in within a working culture'' as it did ability, Dr Hasmath said. ''It's not necessarily meritocratic.''
The study also suggests that workers who described themselves as extroverted, neurotic or agreeable - all standard measures of a conscientious personality - had better wages and career advancement. The study found members of ethnic minorities reporting lower rates of confidence, but similar levels of conscientiousness.