Holland Code Careers: Finding Your Ideal Workplace

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "What Color Is Your Parachute?" by Richard N. Bolles. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are Holland Code careers? How can you use RIASEC to determine the right job for you?

Holland Code careers are the work environments or jobs that best suit your RIASEC results. Based on the people-environment you need, you know which RIASEC careers are right for you.

Keep reading for more information about Holland Code careers.

Holland Code Careers: Jobs For You

Dr. Holland came up with the theory that every career attracts certain types of people, or a specific “people-environment.” Therefore, if you can figure out what kind of a people-environment you prefer, that knowledge can direct you towards a specific career. This categorization is system is known as Holland Code careers.

There are six people-environments or RIASEC careers:

  • R=Realistic. These people like to do things that are ordered and explicit, such as working with nature, tools, machines, or sports.
  • I=Investigative. These people like to do things that use their brains, such as analyzing or investigating things, people, or information.
  • A=Artistic. These people like to do things that are creative and free, such as making art.
  • S=Social. These people like to do things that involve other people, such as teaching or serving.
  • E=Enterprising. These people like to do things that involve manipulating other people, such as sales, leadership, or starting projects.
  • C=Conventional. These people like to do things that are detailed and completable, such as administrative work.

The Holland Code careers theory says that everyone would have the potential to excel at all six people-environments if our life spans were unlimited, but most of us tend to excel in only three, based on how we grew up. 

Your Holland Code careers are the three letters that represent your preferred environment. You can find your Holland Code in three ways:

  • Use the Self-Directed Search tool.
  • Use the O*NET Interest Profiler.
  • Play the party game. Imagine that you’re at a party and all the guests have arranged themselves into groups based on the six people-environments. Which group are you most inclined to go over to? (Don’t factor in shyness or your ability to join the conversation.) Then, imagine that the group you were talking to all leaves for another party without you. Which group do you approach next? Then, this second group leaves too. Which group are you next-most comfortable with? These three groups are your RIASEC careers.

What Do You Enjoy?

On a scrap piece of a paper, answer the following questions to supplement your Holland Code careers:

  • What hobbies do you like to spend a lot of time doing?
  • What activities make you lose track of time?
  • What subjects do you like to talk about?
  • What websites or blogs do you find yourself on and what are they about?
  • What TV shows or podcasts do you like and what are they about?
  • What courses or classes (either in-person or online) would you be interested in taking?
  • What newspaper articles, magazines, and books do you like to read and what are they about?
  • What would you write a book about, if it wasn’t a biography?

Determining Your Favorites

On a scrap piece of paper, create the following chart. This chart is a prioritizing aid that will help you figure out your most important knowledges. You’re going to rank the knowledges you came up with in worksheets #1 and #2 by how much expertise and enthusiasm you have about them. 

Box A: Here, write the topics that you have expertise in but don’t have enthusiasm for.Box B: Here, write the topics that you have both expertise and enthusiasm for.
Box C: This box is for subjects that you neither have expertise nor enthusiasm for. This box is optional⁠—you won’t pursue any of the activities in this box, so if you fill it out, it’s just as a warning.Box D: Here, write the subjects that you have enthusiasm but little expertise for.
Holland Code Careers: Finding Your Ideal Workplace

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  • How to not just find a job, but find a job you love
  • Why traditional resumes don’t find you the right job
  • The 7 steps to identifying your ideal career

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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