John Holland's Theory of Career Choice (RIASEC)


Career planning can seem overwhelming without proper preparation and resources. More than one million kids will leave school this year without earning a high school diploma after losing interest and hope in their future. School communities often lack the tools needed to meet these vulnerable youths' complex emotional and academic needs, which frequently leaves these students with the false notion that happiness and well-being are not a priority at work.

Career Happiness Matters

It is unbelievable how much we underestimate the importance of being happy at work. Most people prefer to work with others who share similar interests and personality traits — a commonality pointed out by John Holland's Theory of Vocational Choice. However, choosing a career without guidance and a genuine understanding of your personality type can be intimidating.

You are probably asking yourself, what does my personality type have to do with my job? Your emotional well-being is imperative, especially at work. After all, most of us spend over eight hours a day in the workplace (that’s approximately 2,080 hours a year!), which takes up a massive bulk of our life. Unfortunately, many employees still undervalue just how important it is to be happy in the workplace. Recent statistics prove that happy employees:

  • Stay at their job four times longer than unhappy employees.
  • Are 12% more productive.
  • Commit longer and tend to go above and beyond when they feel that they are valued.
  • Have 65% more energy than unhappy employees.

Neuroscientist Richard Davidson has researched dozens of companies and hundreds of people to conclude his findings with this simple fact: “Happy people are better workers. Those who are engaged with their jobs and colleagues work harder — and smarter.”

According to a recent Gallup report, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged, which means few people are, “emotionally and intellectually committed” to their organizations. In fact, one out of five employees is actively disengaged, according to the same Gallup report.

Several factors could contribute to this. Disengaged and unhappy people are not fun to work with and can create a recipe for a hostile work environment. Over time, this environment can negatively hinder a company’s productivity, sabotage projects, burden colleagues with feelings of stress, anger, and frustration, and ultimately lead to an emotional shutdown among employees. With all these negative emotions surrounding the workplace, it is impossible to process information well, think creatively, and make good decisions as a team. A contentious work environment like this one can leave you asking yourself — did I choose the right career?

RIASEC and Reliable Results

So, how do we protect young students searching for their dream job from experiencing this? What steps should we take towards guiding them toward a fulfilling career? The first critical step in selecting a career and/or educational program is to find one that best fits your academic interests, personality type, and career aspirations. These components are the basis of John Holland’s Theory of Vocational Choice, which supports connecting people with similar interests, talents, skillset, attitudes, and values together in the workplace to promote an enjoyable work environment. RIASEC is an abbreviation for the following personality types:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional

Most people are one of these six personality types — some refer to these as Holland Codes or RIASEC. The Holland Theory is well-known, highly researched by career experts, and widely used by professionals. Understanding the theory and applying it directly through tools like Kuder’s Career Assessments will help you identify careers and education programs that will fit who you are and put you on the path to career happiness.

Why Trust Kuder Assessments?

Kuder career assessments are best-in-class for their reliability and validity, according to ongoing research dating back to 1938. As a result, these assessments are most successful when used as tools that can guide the process of career discernment.

“The Kuder assessments are among the rare online career guidance instruments that meet or exceed professional standards set forth by the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education.”

Hoi Suen, Ed. D, Kuder Faculty.

Kuder’s career assessments include reports on the user's unique Holland Codes, which can help students identify their ideal career choice as early as elementary school. These powerful insights and resources help motivate students toward successful career exploration through elementary, middle, and high school. With the Kuder assessments, high school educators can better assist students with RIASEC test interpretation, boost classroom engagement levels, and the planning and achievement of long-term career goals.

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About The Author

Cristina Wilson

Cristina Wilson serves as editor and curator of the Kuder Blog. Cristina is a seasoned writer, editor, and educator with experience in writing diverse, well-researched, and informative articles.

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