A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Work Personalities and Environments

This self-evaluation section describes the work personalities and corresponding work environments commonly used in career counselling. It’s known as the Holland vocational theory and is based on the work of American psychologist John Holland. It has been adopted around the world to help individuals analyze themselves and work environments to find good matches between the two.

Holland suggests that while people often have personality traits in all or most of the areas identified, most people are strongest in three out of the six and he uses that preference to help people determine their Holland code. You can take a formal test, such as the Self-Determined Search (Holland, 1994), available online and in hardcopy, to determine your code. Or, you can simply read through the listing of work personalities that follows and note the three areas where you most closely match the description – those three would then become your Holland code.

If you’re interested in learning more about Holland’s Vocational Theory or if you’d like to browse a listing of jobs that match the various Holland codes, go online and enter “Holland vocational codes”, “Holland code job matches” or some variant in a web search engine. If you don’t have easy access to the Internet, you can visit your local library and work with a reference librarian to can help you locate an appropriate reference such as the Dictionary of Holland occupational codes (Gottfredson, & Holland, 1996). Another option is to visit a local job placement counsellor or officer to find out what resources are available in your area.

The six work personalities and typical work environments with jobs being performed that match the traits are listed below.

Investigative people are analytical and tend to have strong mathematical or scientific abilities. They like to experiment, think, observe, and solve problems. The investigative work environment appeals to people who are abstract-thinkers who prefer to work with their minds rather than their hands. Investigative environments encourage problem- solving and experimentation. Logical, original thinkers, with interests in science, math, medicine, and technical areas, are encouraged in such work sites.

Examples of investigative jobs are:  programmer, educational psychologist, mathematician, translator, archaeologist, veterinarian, botanist, technical publications writer, chemist, geographer, statistician, electrical engineer, food tester, surgical technician, astronomer, and inventor.

Artistic people are creative and expressive. They like to perform, draw, sing, play musical instruments, or do other things that enable them to demonstrate their artistic talents. Artistic environments encourage perceptive, creative, free-spirited individuals. These work environments demand intuition and imagination. They tend to be unstructured environments with an emphasis on freedom of expression and aesthetics. Artistic personality types gravitate to occupations in the performing and visual arts, as well as in other creative fields.

Examples of artistic jobs include: stage technician, actor, musician, acrobat, package designer, fashion artist, singer, conductor, comedian, prose/poetry writer, editor, decorator, illustrator, narrator, music teacher, magician, milliner, photographer, auctioneer, set designer, graphic designer, and critic.

Social people like to be with other people. They like to teach, understand, and help others. They are often good communicators who are skilled with words. Social environments attract gregarious people who are interested in people and like to work with others. These environments require strong verbal skills, an interest in people, and a willingness to help others. Careers in teaching, social work, counselling, and other helping professions are in social environments.

Social jobs may include the following:  athletic trainer, occupational therapist, teacher, psychologist, respiratory therapist, dental hygienist, probation officer, social worker, nurse, claim examiner, librarian, police officer, bartender, paralegal assistant, cosmetologist, recreation leader, historian, caseworker, hearing officer, and comparison shopper.

Enterprising people like to influence or lead other people. They also like to manage, persuade, and sell things and enjoy competitive, money-making environments. Enterprising people are assertive and outgoing so they match-up with entrepreneurial or business-like environments which tend to be highly competitive and profit-oriented. Enterprising personalities like to be in control and are often found in leadership roles. They enjoy jobs in sales, politics, and business management.

Enterprising jobs may include: laundromat operator, salesperson, contractor, warehouse supervisor, communications consultant, kitchen supervisor, food services director, legislative assistant, housekeeper, barber, umpire, waitress, attorney, lobbyist, interpreter, artist's manager, securities trader, travel guide, and investment manager.

Conventional people like structure and order in their lives. They like to work with data, pay attention to detail, and often have good organizational skills. They are good at following through with others’ instructions. People who tend to be practical, neat, and well-organized gravitate to conventional work. Conventional work environments are structured, orderly environments. Conventional personality types do well in accounting, business, and clerical professions.

Examples of conventional jobs are:  accountant, music copyist, clerk, auditor, bookkeeper, food checker, mortgage clerk, dry cleaner, building inspector, bibliographer, editorial assistant, title examiner, court clerk, ticket agent, receptionist, ticket taker, scheduler, cashier-checker, information clerk, credit-card clerk, and data entry clerk.

Realistic people are often athletic or have mechanical abilities. They have good manual skills and like to work with tools, objects, equipment, animals, and plants. They often like to work outdoors. The realistic work environment appeals to people who want to work with things (objects, tools, and machines) rather than with other people or ideas. Jobs in this area require attention to the present rather than to the past or future. Frequently, these jobs require mechanical or technical abilities.

Realistic jobs include:  plumber, cook, electrician, firefighter, engine tester, mechanical engineer, stone carver, automobile mechanic, electrical appliance repairer, piano tuner, baggage handler, assembler, janitor, animal breeder, shoe repair person, bicycle repair person, carpenter, and small maintenance person. ​​​