Holland Personality Code

Picture yourself walking into a room in which the above six groups of people are already interacting. Read the descriptions of each group in the graphic and list which group you would be drawn to first, second, and third.


This exercise is based on Dr. John Holland’s theory that people and work environments can be loosely classified into six different groups. Different people’s personalities may find different work environments more hospitable, congenial, and beneficial. While you may have some interests in, and similarities to, several of the six groups, you may be attracted primarily to two or three of the areas. These two or three letters are your Holland Code. For example, with the Holland Code SAR, you would most resemble the Social type, resemble the Artistic type slightly less, and resemble the Realistic type even less than the first two. The types that are not in your code are the types you resemble least. Most people, and most jobs, are some combination of two or three of the Holland interest areas.


Each letter of the Holland Code occupies a section of the hexagon. Letters that are next to each other tend to have more overlapping traits, making it easier to find careers with both of those letters. For example, Social and Enterprising both usually enjoy working in careers with a lot of social interaction. Letters that are opposite each other on the hexagon have little in common. For example, Conventional individuals enjoy structure, while Artistic individuals prefer more freedom in their work. While it is possible to find a job with both these elements, it is more challenging. Sometimes individuals find that two of their letters are most important to them in a career while the third letter is pursued as a hobby.


Consider your own personality and what types of work environments have been a positive experience for you. After you determine which categories fit best for you, the Holland Code (the three first letters of the categories, e.g., SIA for Social Investigative Artistic) can be used to determine fit with specific careers and majors. Occupations are also classified by a three letter code. Thus, individuals can find a fit between their own code and their desired profession.

To identify career fields and jobs that are linked to your Holland Code, visit the O*Net website.