What do you want to be when you grow up? The question still makes me break out in a cold sweat, even though it has been years since it was asked of me. I sympathize with the high schoolers of today who are struggling to answer this question. The pressure on them is mounting as the cost and admission standards of higher education continue to rise. 

How can we, as family members, educators and teachers, equip our high school students? Personality testing can help. When students understand their strengths and motivations, they can better evaluate potential fields of study and related professions.

In this blog post, we’re taking a look at the three best career planning tools for high school students – the best tools being ones that measure the high-schooler’s strengths. To figure out what they may be good at, teens need some basic information about themselves. And one of the best ways to understand strengths is to look at them through an external lens, with explanations in terms that are clear and relatable. 

Especially when teens feel uncertain or self-conscious, self-analysis and self-promotion can feel very awkward. Personality theory can help give teens the information and language they need to express themselves. 

1. Big Five Personality Test

The Big Five trait model is one of the most trusted methods used to help define personality. The model measures the traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Understanding how these traits are represented in our personalities provides insight into how we think and behave, which helps us understand the ways we excel and what we enjoy.

Openness, for example, is a Big Five trait that describes a person's tendency to think abstractly. Teens who score highly in Openness learn they are able to understand and think with complex concepts. They may prefer talking and thinking about theories and concepts, even if the concepts are unproven. They can be described as creative, unconventional, imaginative and artistic. 

Possible majors that would help these students thrive include the arts, humanities (history, English, philosophy), psychology and political science. Some possible career matches include graphic designer, interior designer, marketing manager, journalist, director, and lawyer.

Teens who score lower in Openness learn they are more concrete, straightforward thinkers. They enjoy focusing on the physical world and can be very observant. They enjoy routine and tradition and can be described as realistic, detail-oriented and more decisive. 

Possible majors that provide the structure these students look for include economics, engineering, sciences and the humanities. Potential career matches for these teens include law enforcement, the military, finance, manufacturing, construction and administrative positions. 

You can take The Big Five Personality test for free here

2. Holland Code Test

Another personality theory, developed by John Holland, proposes that there are six areas that can be used to describe people, their personalities, and their interests: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. These areas are often called Holland Codes. Because the names of Holland's six types may not be obvious to non-professionals, Truity uses a slightly different terminology which is more self-explanatory: 

  • Building (Realistic)
  • Thinking (Investigative)
  • Creating (Artistic)
  • Helping (Social)
  • Persuading (Enterprising)
  • Organizing (Conventional)

Someone who scores highly in Persuading, for example, would excel in jobs involving leading, motivating, and influencing others. They like working in positions where they get to make decisions and carry out projects, and Persuading people tend to be extraverted and sociable. 

Someone who scores highly in Building, also known as Realistic, would excel in a job involving hands-on or manual activities, such as building, mechanics, machinery operation, or athletics. Unlike a Persuading person, a Building person prefers to work with things rather than ideas and people.

You can take Truity’s version of the The Holland Code Career Test here for free.  

3. The Career Personality Profiler

Personality theory and research show that we are, in fact, motivated in different ways based on our personality traits. Both The Big Five traits and Holland Codes have conclusively been shown to impact not only how well we fit with different jobs, but also our level of job satisfaction. Once high schoolers have a better understanding of their strengths, they can begin to see how being good at something can also be motivating and more enjoyable. This positive perspective can make the task of narrowing down a career path feel easier and less stressful.

Key personality traits relate to our core values and interest in tasks, which can help us expand or narrow down a list of possibilities. But before students can evaluate a list of possible career choices, they need one! The best career planning tools will expand the personality testing to include career testing, providing a curated list of possible job options.

Comprehensive and scientifically validated, the Career Personality Profiler uses both the Holland Codes and Big Five theories to measure a student’s interests and personality traits. High School students who take The Career Personality Profiler get results that include detailed information about their personality as well as a list of potential careers, industries, and college majors. 

Often high schoolers decide on a potential career without any thought about what that career entails in a day-to-day setting. Their Career Personality Profiler report includes concrete examples of tasks and activities they will find fulfilling, and which they should avoid, to help them develop a more accurate picture of what someone in a chosen profession actually does during their work day. The report also discusses how the student works best, what motivates them, and gives suggestions for maximizing their strengths. 


Many high school students have limited experience with careers outside of their parents or family members, so broadening their horizons is key. In addition, teens are open to self-exploration. Capitalizing on this willingness is a necessary first step in helping them evaluate potential careers and fields of study. Once high schoolers have a better understanding of what their strengths are, what they enjoy, and how they react to the world around them, they will be more excited and motivated to research potential careers to help them prepare for their futures.

Kelly Hertzig
Kelly is a UCLA graduate and former high school English teacher. She discovered personality type theory as a way to better understand her three teenage daughters. As an ESFJ and an Enneagram Type 2, she loves all things people-oriented and a worthy food quest with her INTP husband.