Using The Holland Codes for Career Planning

In the Holland Code system developed by academic psychologist Dr John L. Holland, there are six broad occupational themes that match our interests and preferences: Realistic/Building, Investigative/Thinking, Artistic/Creating, Social/Helping, Enterprising/Persuading, and Conventional/Organizing. Using the Holland Codes can help you find the happiness and success that comes from working in a career that best matches your personality category.

The Holland Code system is one of the most widely used frameworks for career assessment in the world. The system was developed by Dr John L. Holland, an academic psychologist. His theory proposes that there are six broad areas into which all careers can be classified. These same six areas can be used to describe people, their personalities and interests.

How can I use Holland codes to choose the right career?

The Holland Code states that individuals find the greatest happiness and success when they work in a career that matches their personality category. For example, “Building” careers are those that involve working with tools or machinery (e.g. carpenter, mechanic or airline pilot). People with “Building” interests are typically practical types who like working with their hands and creating a tangible product.

To figure out which careers will suit you, simply take a Holland Code assessment. Once you have your scores in each of the six interest areas, you'll receive a list of suitable careers based on how well they suit your style. You can also use our Holland Code Career search tool to find careers that interest you.

Warning! No career test is intended to be a box to put yourself in. Tests like the Holland Code excel in encouraging you to look at good-fit jobs you may not have considered before, but they can only ever recommend broad occupational themes that match your interests and preferences. The final decision is always yours.

What are the six interest areas?

There are six interest areas in the Holland code. These are often referred to as “RIASEC” which is an acronym for Holland's original six types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. However, because these names may not be obvious to everyone, we use different and more self-explanatory terminology.


Builders are “doers” who like working with their hands and bodies, tools and machines, plants and animals, and working outdoors. They enjoy building and crafting things and many love sports. Most Builders prefer to work with “things” over people. They are practical, no-nonsense types who like to get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

Key personality traits of Builders: Practical, structured, independent, realistic, sensible, mechanical, traditional, down-to-earth

Sample careers for Builders: Building jobs involve the use of tools, machines or physical skill, such as:


Thinkers like working with ideas and concepts, and enjoy science, technology and academia.

They typically are intellectual and rational people who enjoy searching for facts and understanding. Thinkers often choose careers that involve research, theorizing, experimentation, problem-solving and intellectual enquiry. They do not enjoy working with people as much as they like working with ideas.

Key personality traits of Thinkers: Intellectual, curious, logical, analytical, scholarly, independent

Sample careers for Thinkers: Thinking jobs involve theory, research, and intellectual inquiry, such as:


Creators are energized by using their imagination. They like to express themselves and produce something unique. As such, they are most likely to find fulfillment in jobs that involve creativity and originality such as careers in the arts, design, performance, music, writing and language. Most Creators shy away from routine work in favor of unstructured environments where they have the freedom to express themselves and create something original to them.

Key personality traits of Creators: Original, creative, independent, intuitive, sensitive, imaginative, spontaneous

Sample careers of creators: Creator jobs involve art, design, language and self-expression, such as:


Helpers are “people-persons” who work cooperatively to improve the lives of others. They are compassionate, caring individuals who like to see the impact of their work on others' lives. Helpers place a high value on relationships and dislike working alone. They prefer jobs that involve assisting, teaching, coaching and serving people in an environment where they can work closely with others to make a positive impact.

Key personality traits of Helpers: Compassionate, patient, helpful, friendly, generous, cooperative

Sample careers for Helpers: Helping jobs involve assisting, teaching and serving others, such as:


Persuaders like working in positions of power and gravitate towards jobs that involve leading or motivating people in some way, such as careers in business, management, sales, politics and the law. They typically are energetic, dominant people who enjoy a certain amount of risk in their work. Most Persuaders dislike working in isolation. They prefer to team up with others and use their considerable influence and networking skills to achieve results.

Key personality traits of Persuaders: Assertive, energetic, confident, ambitious, adventurous

Sample careers for Persuaders: Persuading jobs involve leading, motivating and influencing others, such as:


Organizers like to work in structured environments to complete tasks with precision and accuracy. They prefer jobs that involve working with data, information and processes, such as careers in business, administration, accounting, information technology and office management. Organizers are typically orderly, methodical people who like to follow procedures and complete tasks efficiently and with great attention to detail. They value predictability and dislike unstructured work environments that lack clear expectations and require you to make things up as you go.

Key personality traits of Organizers: Orderly, precise, detail-oriented, conservative, thorough

Sample careers for Organizers: Organizing jobs involve managing data, information and processes such as:

Can the Holland Code help with career development?

Most people use the Holland Code when they are deciding what sort of career they would like to pursue and it's often thought of as exclusively a career selection tool. But tests based on the Holland Code system can also be used to strengthen your career well-being as you move from role to role.

For example, understanding the Holland Code can help you identify what kind of environment would be most suitable for you to work in. It makes sense that an Artistic or Creative person is more likely to be successful and satisfied in a work environment that rewards creative thinking and behavior. But having a “Creative” environment is not necessarily the same as having a “Creative” job title – for example, you might be a writer (which, by definition, is Creative) but working for an organization that has rigid processes and procedures, which may be the wrong environment for you.

Understanding your Holland Code can help you identify which parts of your working life are a good fit for your personality and skills, and which parts need to be changed as you move along your career path. Career happiness matters. The Holland Code can help you make the decisions and improvements you need to get there.

Molly Owens
Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly. Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.