Handwriting analysis is no longer for freaks and psychics. Multinational companies hire handwriting analysts to understand personality traits of prospective job candidates. Character traits that matter during the hiring process — creativity, self-esteem, leadership, and optimism, for example — are revealed in one's handwriting.

You should learn how to analyze your co-workers' handwriting and your own to give yourself an edge at work. I have found that the basics of analysis are quick and easy to learn. Getting along with other people and knowing yourself are essential pieces to career success, and analyzing peoples' handwriting can help you speed up the process. Here are some examples:

Get along with people better
Knowing someone's personality traits is invaluable for collaborating with and motivating that person. Depending on that person to tell you his or her own traits is risky. Most people don't know themselves well enough; even focus group leaders don't bother to ask people directly what they like anymore.

Fortunately, with very little expertise, you can use handwriting to evaluate someone's dominant traits. For example, someone with a signature that leaves a lot of space between first and last names is not going to be an intimate, emotional person, so you can stop trying to forge that kind of relationship. If the first and last names overlap, that person is relationship-oriented and probably wants more than long-distance management from you.

Make better career choices
You can also use handwriting analysis to gauge your own dominant traits. Then you can figure out which career is best for the type of person you are.

For example, you can learn what sort of handwriting is appropriate for the job you aim for, and compare your own handwriting to that standard. Angular is appropriate for a programmer and inappropriate for a sales person. Perfect, schoolteacher writing reveals the need to establish order and would be a bad sign if you aspired to the freethinking required of an inventor.

Handwriting really does reflect your true self. So if you discover your penmanship does not reflect traits necessary for the career you have in mind, ask yourself if you are even in the right field.

Improve your image
Handwriting is like clothing. Your audience cannot help but evaluate your message by what it looks like. You wouldn't wear sweatpants to an important meeting, and you wouldn't wear a ball gown, either. Take the same care with your handwriting.

For example, in a note to your boss, if your letters are rigid and perfect you will project the image of someone who is anal, inflexible, and non-visionary. Fine if you are an accountant, not fine if you want to be CFO. If you scrawl a quick, barely legible note to your boss you seem to be more involved in your own ideas than in the people around you, you might project the image of an eccentric artistic genius, but if you aspire to management, write more legibly.

You also project self-esteem in your signature. I am shocked at how many people have a very tiny signature. You need no training in handwriting analysis to know that this is an expression of low self-esteem. Even if you feel like you want to disappear, force yourself to sign your name like you want people to see it.

To all you doubters, test the theory. Get a handwriting analysis book from the library. You only need to skim a few pages to get an idea of what to look for. Then take handwriting samples from people you know well and evaluate them. I bet you'll find the rules of analysis depict an accurate view of that person.

When you add handwriting analysis to your career arsenal, start out small — look at different loops and slopes and figure out what they mean. After a while, you'll find that handwriting analysis actually feels intuitive; like all good insights, once you have it it'll seem obvious, and acting on results of handwriting analysis will make as much sense to you as it does to those multinational companies.