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The 6 Personality Types and How They Impact Your Career Choice

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on July 29, 2016

People are happier and most productive when they are placed into jobs that match their personality, a theory developed from The Holland Codes. Researcher, John Holland, believed certain types of people work best when paired with jobs that not only utilize their strengths but are then tailored to how they work best, resulting in more work getting done and higher quality work. How does this fit into managing a workspace? How your employees feel while at the office and about their working environment will impact everything they do.

According to John Holland, there are six key categories that define the modern worker.  His assessment offers a framework that considers career interest and pairs ideal environments for certain personalities that also play a role in job satisfaction and performance. The six types are Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. The theory classifies people into their respective category by evaluating how a person approaches life situations - and most people fall into more than one category. It should also be noted that people with the same personality type tend to work best with others of their type, but certain types work best alone or with specific groups over others. Read through the six personalities and take into consideration the employees at your workplace. In the future, when creating teams or hiring new employees it could benefit everyone to pair individuals with others they are most likely to succeed with in their "chosen" environment. 

The Six Personality Types

Realistic (Doer)

Someone who likes to work mainly with their hands by making and fixing things, assembling or operating equipment. They sometimes prefer working outdoors and find joy with varying types of manual labor. A realistic individual work well with tools, machines and mechanical drawings. Valuing practical things you can see and touch, they also often see themselves as practical and mechanical.

Best when working: Alone or with other realistic people 

Compatible with: Investigative or Conventional Holland_Career_Theory_R.jpg

Occupations with a realistic environment:

  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Pilot
  • Engineer
  • Mechanic

Investigative (Thinker)

The most analytical of the six personalities, this group loves to study and solve math or science related problems. They are not skilled negotiators but prefer working with others who are grounded. They see themselves as precise and intellectual and like to be acknowledged for their achievements. 

Best when working: Alone or with other investigative individuals 


Compatible with: Realistic or Artistic

Occupations with an investigative environment:

  • Biologist
  • Mathematician
  • Computer Programmer
  • Surveyor
  • Pharmacist 

Artistic (Creator)

This group of individuals value others who are expressive and independent. They naturally admire the creative arts including writing and music. They see themselves as expressive and original and prefer to avoid highly ordered or repetitive activities.  They enjoy working in groups but only if they are allowed expressive freedom and are encouraged to share their ideas. 


Best when working: In groups that allow creative expression and unsystematic teams 

Compatible with: Investigative and Social

Occupations with an artistic environment:

  • Graphic Designer
  • Musician
  • Book Editor
  • Art Teacher
  • Actor 

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Social (Helper)

Persons with a social personality type like to "dominate" their environment. This is the most common category of the six, and many people have traits of this category among others. They particularly value providing services for others, and enjoy working closely with people. Their ideal working conditions are with other people who are also trustworthy and helpful, and show appreciation.

Best when working: Groups and all types of people where they feel needed


Compatible with: Artistic and Enterprising

Occupations with a social environment:

  • Counselor
  • Librarian
  • Social Worker
  • Physical Therapist
  • Nurse

Enterprising (Persuader)

Most likely to lead and persuade, this group was born to sell and tend to value business or politics. They see themselves as being social and ambitious, and have a way with getting a group of people to lean a certain way. They are careful to avoid people who are too scientific and analytical, but are definitely drawn to working in groups. 

Enjoys working with: Groups and with all types of people in a leadership position  


Compatible with: Social and Conventional

Occupations with an enterprising environment:

  • Sales Manager
  • Real Estate Agent
  • School Principal
  • Attorney
  • Hotel Manager

Conventional (Organizer)

A member of this group would probably prefer to work with numbers, records or machines. They enjoy repetitive tasks done in an orderly fashion and like to avoid ambiguous activities. They see themselves as organized and good at following directions. They value success in business, and enjoy working with other people but do best in small, systematic groups where they know their responsibilities.

Enjoys working with: Groups that have defined duties assigned to all


Compatible with: Enterprising or Realistic

Occupations with a conventional environment:

  • Bookkeeper
  • Secretary
  • Bank Teller 
  • Mail Carrier
  • HR Consultant

What This Means for Workplace Managers

When planning your office's environment, consider the types of departments these six categories work in. Artistic and Enterprising individuals are probably more likely to work in marketing and sales, and would likely enjoy interacting if grouped together. Be sure to give your Investigative and Realistic groups space to work alone, but consider offering them smaller more private gathering spots for them to choose if they want to work with others. Your Conventional and Social departments, most likely HR and possibly security, should be placed where they'll have lots of interaction with people and opportunities to help others. You also might want to consider placing Conventional near your Artistic and Enterprising groups considering they enjoy working in teams. 

Building a Better Digital Workforce: Meet Dev Video

Taking it a step further, when looking into design for your workplace, consider the types of environments each personality would thrive in. Your Artistic and Enterprise groups likely would enjoy lots of color and movable space so they could stretch their creative talents and work with varying groups of people. However, your Realistic employees may prefer a quieter tone in their workspace. The best way to gauge what people want is to ask. During your next office renovation survey your employees to see what they want to see in the new workplace upgrade. 

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