Personality Types and Career Choices


Personality Types and Career Choices

Personality Types and Career Choices; Holland’s Model.

John Holland, a vocational theorist, based his Personality Type Theory on a view that it is important to develop a match or ‘agreement’ between an individual’s personality type and one’s choice of a particular career. People are more likely to enjoy their work and stay in their jobs longer than others who work at jobs which are not suited to their personalities, according to Holland (1987). There are six basic career-related personality types which Holland proposed. They are:

* Realistic.

* Investigative.

* Artistic.

* Social.

* Enterprising.

* Conventional.

Realistic: People with a realistic personality type tend to be better suited to vocations such as laboring, farming, truck driving, construction and general blue-collar positions, also with a number of technical jobs such as engineers and pilots (Lowman, 1991). People with this type of personality have interests in jobs in the outdoors and working in manual activities. They can be less social than others, have difficulties in demanding situations, and prefer to work alone or with other people of this same personality type. Typically, these people are robust and practical. The realistic type holds the least prestige level of the proposed six personality types according to Holland.

Personality Types and Career Choices

Investigative: Ideas seem more interesting than people for those with this personality type. They can be somewhat indifferent to social relationships, are troubled by highly emotional situations, and may be on the receiving end of others’ judgement of being aloof, yet highly intelligent. This personality type tends to be on the other end of the spectrum to realistic personality types as far as the prestige level of vocations being the highest of the six personality types (education levels and prestige {Gottfredson, 1980}). The majority of scientific professions and intellectually orientated professions fall in this category.


Artistic: These people are obviously creative and they enjoy working with materials to express their ideas and indeed themselves. They often value freedom and have a distaste for conformity. Interpersonal relationship can be problematic for these people. Artistic people do tend to have high education levels (given the opportunity) and they often experience moderate to high prestige. There is a relatively high amount of people in this grouping, but unfortunately, not a lot of vocational roles available as per the number of artistic people, and therefore these people often resort to choosing careers in their second or third career type, expressing their artistic tendencies in hobbies or leisure activities.


Social: Social types tend to have a helping orientation as they tend to work through and with others. The social type of people tend to have a heart for helping others to develop, often particularly with those who are disadvantaged or in need. They often have highly developed interpersonal skills as they show a greater interest in people rather than intellectual pursuits. Professions that are typically acquired by these people include teachers, counsellors/counselors, social workers and so-forth. The prestige rating of the social type is rather high. 

Enterprising: This grouping of people/personality type is also orientated towards people. However, they tend to seek to dominate others, particularly when they have a target goal in sight. As a result, the enterprising personality type of people tend to be good at co-ordinating others’ work to accomplish a goal. They have an ability to persuade others to do something and/or to adopt their own attitudes and choices. The Enterprising personality type is ranked fourth of the six types in prestige, and often seek career such as sales-people, management and politics.

 Conventional: The conventional personality type functions well in structured situations and have an eye for detail. They like to work with numbers and often perform clerical tasks, as opposed to working with people and ideas. They usually do not seek to gain high-level positions in an organization. Structured jobs are more their ‘cup-of-tea’ (their liking) which include jobs such as secretaries, bank tellers, and clerks. They take the fifth place in prestige rating.

 According to Holland, the prestige levels from top to bottom are: 1. Investigative. 2 & 3. Social and Artistic (the artistic type is a little difficult to gauge as many people of this personality type seek careers best suited to other personality types). 4. Enterprising. 5. Conventional. 6. Realistic. Don’t take this theory for gospel though. Just as with other personality theories, we are far too complex to be pigeon-holed into one category alone. For example, hardly ever (if ever) would anyone be 100% phlegmatic, or sanguine, without having other traits or characteristics from another personality type.

If we followed Holland’s theory as concrete or absolute, career counsellors/counselors would have an easy job. We are far more intricate than that. Holland actually stated that rarely do people fit into just one of his personality types, and that most people are a combination of two or three types. In saying this, Holland’s theory does have credit as it is incorporated into the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory which is a widely used measure in career guidance. Other personality types include Type A and B personality types, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and The Four Humors.

Matching personality types and career choices, all-in-all, maybe aids in our overall mental well-being. Studies confirm that happiness influences health (Time, 2017), so why might mental well-being be any exception. What do you think?

Thank you for visiting Beyond my Label. Regards,


Reference: Ashby Allan Institute, CSLE4, App. 1, p 17 & 18, Brisbane, 2006.

Time, (2017). It’s official: happiness really can improve health. Retrieved June 28, 2018, from

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