Researchers say self-confidence is a key determinant of workplace success.
Drawing upon more than 100 interviews with professional staff in large corporations in Melbourne, New York and Toronto, the pilot study by University of Melbourne researchers found a strong correlation between confidence and occupational success.
Participants were asked to describe their level of confidence at primary school, high school, university, and present day. Those who self-reported higher levels of confidence earlier in school earned better wages, and were promoted more quickly.
Lead author Dr Reza Hasmath, from the University's School of Social and Political Sciences, said the research demonstrates a crucial ingredient of workplace advancement.
"The implications are tremendous in terms of the personality employers should look for when it comes to hiring or promoting staff," Dr Hasmath said.
The findings also shed new light on previous studies that argued the existence of 'erotic capital', meaning better looking people are more likely to get ahead in the workplace, or studies which indicate taller people earn higher salaries.
"We now know it's actually higher confidence levels - which may be a byproduct of attractiveness and height - which make all the difference," Dr Hasmath said.
"The findings imply that we should stress confidence-building activities at an early age. Such activities should be strongly encouraged both in formal schooling and within the family unit," Hasmath said.
The study further suggests that workers who described themselves as 'extroverted', 'neurotic', 'open to experiences' or 'agreeable' were also found to be more motivated, and doing well professionally in terms of wages and career advancement.
"Interestingly, members of visible ethnic minorities reported lower rates of confidence, but similar levels of conscientiousness," Dr Hasmath said.
"This may partially explain why their wages and rates of advancement are consistently lower than members of a non-visible ethnic minority," Hasmath added.