A reference list of accessibility keys Careers New Zealand home page Sitemap Search the website About us Contact us govt.nz Jump to content Jump to site navigation main-menu Left column sub navigation menu Jump to page header Jump to page footer Jump to right-hand column

Contact us for career advice by clicking on the tabs below.

  • Need to talk to someone about your career?

    We're here from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

    Call 0800 222 733

  • Chat online with a careers advisor.

    We're here from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. 

    Chat online

     

  • Free text CAREER to 434 for a career planning workbook.

  • Email us your career question.

    Email us

Holland’s theory

John Holland’s Theory of Career Choice (RIASEC) maintains that in choosing a career, people prefer jobs where they can be around others who are like them. They search for environments that will let them use their skills and abilities, and express their attitudes and values, while taking on enjoyable problems and roles. Behaviour is determined by an interaction between personality and environment.

Contact us

Call us on 0800 222 733

Holland’s theory is centred on the notion that most people fit into one of six personality types:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional.

Realistic

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Realistic componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to work mainly with hands, making, fixing, assembling or building things, using and operating equipment, tools or machines. Often likes to work outdoorsUsing and operating tools, equipment and machinery, designing, building, repairing, maintaining, working manually, measuring, working in detail, driving, moving, caring for animals, working with plantsPilot, farmer, horticulturalist, builder, engineer, armed services personnel, mechanic, upholsterer, electrician, computer technologist, park ranger, sportspersonEnglish, Maths, Science, Workshop, Technology, Computing, Business Studies, Agriculture, Horticulture, Physical Education

Investigative

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Investigative componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to discover and research ideas, observe, investigate and experiment, ask questions and solve problemsThinking analytically and logically, computing, communicating by writing and speaking, designing, formulating, calculating, diagnosing, experimenting, investigatingScience, research, medical and health occupations, chemist, marine scientist, forestry technician, medical or agricultural laboratory technician, zoologist, dentist, doctorEnglish, Maths, Science, Computing, Technology

Artistic

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Artistic componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to use words, art, music or drama to communicate, perform, or express themselves, create and design thingsExpressing artistically or physically, speaking, writing, singing, performing, designing, presenting, planning, composing, playing, dancingArtist, illustrator, photographer, signwriter, composer, singer, instrument player, dancer, actor, reporter, writer, editor, advertiser, hairdresser, fashion designerEnglish, Social Studies, Music, Drama, Art, Graphic Design, Computing, Business Studies, Languages

Social

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Social componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes to work with people to teach, train and inform, help, treat, heal and cure, serve and greet, concerned for the wellbeing and welfare of othersCommunicating orally or in writing, caring and supporting, training, meeting, greeting, assisting, teaching, informing, interviewing, coachingTeacher, nurse, nurse aide, counsellor, police officer, social worker, salesperson, customer service officer, waiter, secretaryEnglish, Social Studies, Maths, Science, Health, Physical Education, Art, Computing, Business Studies, Languages

Enterprising

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Enterprising componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes meeting people, leading, talking to and influencing others, encouraging others, working in businessSelling, promoting and persuading, developing ideas, public speaking, managing, organising, leading and captaining, computing, planningSalesperson, lawyer, politician, accountant, business owner, executive or manager, travel agent, music or sports promoterEnglish, Maths, Business Studies, Accounting, Economics, Social Studies, Drama, Computing, Text Information Management, Languages

Conventional

Description of interest areaSome key skillsSome occupations with Conventional componentsSubjects you could study to give you the skills
Likes working indoors and at tasks that involve organising and being accurate, following procedures, working with data or numbers, planning work and eventsComputing and keyboarding, recording and keeping records, paying attention to detail, meeting and greeting, doing calculations, handling money, organising, arranging, working independentlySecretary, receptionist, office worker, librarian, bank clerk, computer operator, stores and dispatch clerkEnglish, Maths, Business Studies, Accounting, Economics, Computing, Text Information Management

Holland asserts that people of the same personality type working together in a job create an environment that fits and rewards their type.

Within this theory there are six basic types of work environment, which correlate directly to the personality types. Holland emphasises that people who choose to work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied. This idea is important as it shows Holland’s theory can be flexible, incorporating combination types.

Holland’s theory takes a problem-solving and cognitive approach to career planning. His model has been very influential in career counselling. It has been employed through popular assessment tools such as the Self-Directed Search, Vocational Preference Inventory and the Strong Interest Inventory.

You can explore Holland's model below. Click on each personality type to read more about it.

There is much research to support Holland’s typology. However it is not without criticism, the most common being the prevalence of females to score in three personality types (artistic, social and conventional). According to Holland this is because society channels women into female-dominated occupations.

Sources

  • Jones, L, ‘The Career Key’, accessed December 2008, (www.careerkey.org).
  • ‘Big Picture View of Career Development Theory’, accessed December 2008, (www.ccdf.ca).
  • Savickas, M, and Lent, R, ‘Convergence in Career Development Theories’, Palo Alto, California, USA: Consulting Psychologists Press Inc.

Updated 10 Jun 2014