How Important is Personality when Choosing a Career?

There are some theories about vocational choice out there – you’ve probably never heard of them – I hadn’t until I trained as a careers advisor.

Given that so little time and thought is generally devoted to careers guidance in schools and colleges, it’s hardly surprising that they aren’t talked about more widely.

John Holland’s theory is based on the fact that like attracts like, or that people who are similar hang out together and like particular types of job.

He characterised us as 6 types:

Realistic, Investigative, Artistic,
Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

Jobs fit into these categories as well – you can guess quite easily where quite a few careers would fit.

Of course, human beings are a little more complex And so are likely to have tendencies from more than one of the six groups


People who are happiest with practical tasks, often involving tools or equipment. They aren’t so keen on working with people but enjoy work with plants or animals.


This group is made up of people with analytical minds, Often intellectual, they enjoy problem solving and research.


As well as art, music and drama, creative writing falls into this category. People who are artistic often choose unconventional careers and sometimes lack organizational skills.


This group enjoy working with people, which covers a wide variety of jobs involving teaching, training, healing, helping. They like teamwork
and discussion, but tend not to enjoy working with tools and machinery.


This group are good at influencing, selling, leading and of course setting up on their own.


Conventional types enjoy a more organized working structure and are dependable, good at routine administrative tasks and like to work with data in more traditional jobs.

To help you decide which combination of groups suits you best, Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, came up with a game called The Party, based On Holland’s theory.

Imagine that there are 6 groups of people at a party, each representing one of the groups above. Which one would you feel most drawn to? Once you’ve made your selection, write down the first letter. So S for social, E for enterprising etc. After 15 minutes, everyone in the group leaves – which group would you go to next? Then this group leaves, which one would you choose next? Now you have 3 letters.

Click here to find out more about the jobs best suited to each group:

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