How to choose a career

John Holland developed a theory of career satisfaction based on personality: “…people can function and develop best and find job satisfaction in work environments that are compatible with their personalities…”  Which means, people tend to be attracted to careers that reflect their personalities.

There are six basic personality types in Holland’s theory:

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Note that there’s no value judgement involved in these types; one isn’t “better” than another. Most of us tend to have strong preferences for one or two of these, and the assessment that’s used to determine one’s typology is the Self-Directed Search (SDS).  It gives us three adjacent codes that represent our preferences in choosing careers (I’m an IAS).

The notion is that we will get the greatest career satisfaction (and probably do best in our career) if we choose a field that matches our personality profile. It’s likely that if you work with a career counselor or career coach you’ll be given the Self Directed Search or the Strong Interest Inventory as part of the work with your counselor/coach.

What it will give you is a set of careers you might want to investigate further; it’s a starting point for doing your homework, not a final answer.

You can take the Self Directed Search for $9.95 here (I have no connection with this website):

Self Directed Search

There’s a sample report on the site so you can see what the results will be like. You can research the careers it suggests on the O*NET Online website by clicking on the links in the report or going to this site and entering the O*NET Code from the SDS report in the Occupation Quick Search field at the upper right:

O*NET Online

This will give you a lot of information about the career to help you in your research and decisions:

  • What working in the field is like
  • Tools, technology, and knowledge required
  • Education or training required
  • Wage and employment prospects
  • Related occupations



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