In John Holland’s Theory of Career Development, he pictured the structure where the personality of an individual would be compatible with specific environments. When the personality and the compatible environment match, then it can lead to a greater feeling of satisfaction and success.
There are 5 key points to consider when looking at this theory.
1. There are 6 different types of basic environments.
Holland created environments that he labeled as artistic, conventional, enterprising, investigative, realistic, and social. Work within these environments only needs to serve a specific purpose, so it can be paid or unpaid work. Even hobbies fit into these basic environments.
2. These basic environments match human personality types.
Holland makes the argument that the basic environments that are available for a career are the same basic personality types that people have.
3. People tend to work better together when their work environment and personality match.
When people with the same type of personality are matched together in a working environment that suits their needs, then they will work together to enhance that environment so that their output can be increased. Rewards are then based on exhibiting the personality traits that positively influence the career environment.
4. People search for a direct match.
If you have an artistic personality, then you are going to seek out a career option that offers an artistic work environment. Someone who focuses on realism would not naturally seek out a work environment which focuses on creativity because the two perspectives would clash.
5. Those who find a match are the most likely to be happy.
There is a greater chance of finding success or feeling satisfied when the work environment and the personality type are able to find a direct match.
This means how people feel or act when they are in a working environment will depend on the specific features of that environment. If there are similar personality types, then there is more comfort. If the personality types are not similar, then there will be more discomfort on a daily basis.
Does There Need to Be a Direct Match to Find Satisfaction?
In Holland’s Theory of Career Development, he recognizes that being able to choose an educational program or a working environment that is similar to an individuals’ personality would bring the greatest chances for success. He also recognized that there would be instances where a direct match may not be possible.
For this reason, Holland created a scoring profile that would help people be able to identify their core personality type and what other congruent matches may be available. The congruent matches are not as positive as a direct match, but they can still offer satisfaction.
- Realistic personalities are compatible with conventional and investigative careers.
- Investigative personalities are compatible with artistic and realistic careers.
- Artistic personalities are compatible with investigative and social careers.
- Social personalities are compatible with artistic and enterprising careers.
- Enterprising personalities are compatible with conventional and social careers.
- Conventional personalities are compatible with enterprising and realistic careers.
By recognizing these relationships, Holland observed that the available personalities and work environment options formed a hexagon. There would be different “pie slices” on each personality line where an individual would find themselves. Then based on the results, they could find a job that best suited their needs OR an employer could shift an employee into a position where they would be more productive.
What If Someone Has Inconsistent Personality Patterns?
Some people have personalities that combine in unique ways, creating what would be considered an inconsistent personality pattern in Holland’s Theory of Career Development. Someone might be social, for example, but also be realistic. In these circumstances, it becomes necessary to find a working environment where both personality patterns are able to be engaged in some way.
If one personality trait is emphasized more than the other, even if a working environment is a direct match for that trait, the individual will feel uncomfortable because they are not engaging their entire personality.
So for someone with social and realistic traits, a job that helps people in some way tends to be the most satisfying match. Think of careers in medicine, such as being an occupational therapist, or becoming a technical instructor in a preferred field, to satisfy both personality needs.
The fact is that each of us has a rather unique personality. When we can recognize this, then we can look for career options that will satisfy our basic needs so that we have the greatest chance to find success. This is the purpose of John Holland’s Theory of Career Development.