by Meridith Levinson

How DiSC Profiles Can Help and Hurt Job Seekers

Aug 04, 20095 mins

Behavioral assessments such as DiSC give job seekers insights into their work styles that they can use to ace interviews.

Behavioral assessments such as DiSC give job seekers insight into their work styles that they can use to ace job interviews and evaluate prospective employers. But they wouldn’t want to share the details of their profiles with hiring managers.  

Last Thursday I spoke with Debbie Giles, co-owner of Intesi! Resources Inc., a consulting firm that provides DiSC assessments to individuals and corporate customers. DiSC assessments identify how a person tends to behave in a given environment, such as at work, by evaluating the individual along the four DiSC dynamics (dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness) and seeing which dynamic makes up the bulk of an individual’s behavioral style.

Intesi recently launched a DiSC assessment for job seekers, called DiSCresume. Intesi is pitching DiSCresume as a service that will help job seekers stand out to hiring managers. It’s a compelling pitch for a crowded job market (it certainly got my attention), but it’s also a little naďve. Allow me to elaborate.

Intesi co-owner Debbie Giles says job seekers who take the DiSC assessment and who attach their DiSC profiles along with their résumés when they apply for a job differentiate themselves from all the other candidates who are just submitting résumés and/or cover letters. The DiSC profile, she says, gives the hiring manager insight into the candidate’s personality and behavioral style—something the hiring manager can’t ascertain from a résumé. Thus, the job seeker distinguishes himself by providing more information to the hiring manager—information that will help him judge whether the candidate will be a good match for his organization.  

“Today’s job seekers know that companies are looking for more than experience and background,” says Giles. “They’re looking more into a candidate’s personality, job fit and character.”

I agree that a candidate’s personality and professional style are going to distinguish him from other, equally qualified candidates, but I’m concerned that attaching one’s DiSC profile with one’s résumé might do more harm to a job seeker than good.

The detailed DiSC profile identifies an individual’s highest DiSC dimension(s) (dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness) and explains how the characteristics associated with each dimension can be strengths and weaknesses in a work environment. The DiSC profile describes how an individual tends to act and react in work situations as well as their preferred work environment. It also reveals how an individual’s “score” across the four dimensions combines to form their “classical profile pattern” (e.g. perfectionist, persuader, creative, achiever, etc.)  

Having taken a DiSC assessment, I can say that the instrument pinpointed my behavioral style and tendencies with remarkable accuracy and insight. I can also say that I would not want to share my DiSC profile with a potential employer. While it certainly exposes what’s unique and wonderful about me (my charm and poise), it uncovers my many foibles (my predictability and passivity) with uncanny precision.

I think most job seekers would hesitate to share such detailed—and potentially unflattering—information about their behavioral style with prospective employers, especially so early in the hiring process, for fear that it might rule them out.

What’s more, I’m not convinced that most employers know what a DiSC profile is, let alone how to read one or how to use it in hiring. Giles told me that 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies use DiSC assessments to help with team building or leadership development, but she didn’t know how many use it for hiring. I can easily see a hiring manager who’s ignorant of DiSC using a candidate’s profile to eliminate the candidate.  

Even if a hiring manager knows what DiSC is and how to read a profile, I doubt he would take the time to read it. Most hiring managers don’t want to read résumés that are more than two pages, let alone the 10 pages of a DiSC profile that concern an individual’s behavioral style.

Job seekers may not want to share their DiSC profiles with prospective employers, but the DiSC profile can still be useful in their job searches. For one, their DiSC profile will give them a very clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. As a result, they’ll be much better prepared to answer questions about their strengths and weaknesses, which hiring managers are so fond of asking (and which job seekers still stumble over.) Job seekers will even be able to demonstrate how they can use their traits that my be perceived as weaknesses, such as passivity and possessiveness, to their advantage, and how these perceived weaknesses can be  beneficial in certain work environments. (They can also play up their strengths in their cover letters.)    

“Being able to intelligently and confidently answer the strengths and weaknesses question gives the candidate a leg up,” says Giles.  

DiSC profiles also help job seekers understand the work environments that best suit them. Knowing the qualities of the work environments where they flourish, job seekers can ask specific questions during the job interview to determine if the employer is right for them.  

I’d like to hear from job seekers and hiring managers on the role of DiSC and other assessments in the job search/hiring process. Job seekers: Would you include your DiSC profile with your résumé? Do you think it would distinguish you—in a good way—from other job seekers? Hiring managers: Would you want to see a candidate’s DiSC profile with their résumés? Do you think it would make a candidate stand out for the right reasons, or would you use it to rule out candidates?