What Your Test Scores Mean

by Lawrence K. Jones, Ph.D., NCC


The Career Key® test measures how similar you are to Holland’s six personality types and helps you identify occupations that match. You can also use your scores to identify programs of study that match your personality.

 

Introduction

The Career Key® test is based on John Holland’s theory of career choice, the best known and widely researched theory on this topic. Understanding it will help you make sense of your Career Key scores and how they relate to your career choice. This document will guide you.

According to the theory, you are most likely to be successful and satisfied in a career if your personality is like the personalities of the people who work in it.  In other words, whatever career choice you make – a career to enter; study course or training program; university degree; or a career change – you are best off to choose one that matches your personality.

 

SUMMARY OF HOLLAND’S THEORY

Holland's theory can be summarised in six statements:

In our culture, most people are one of six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. A later section on Holland’s Six Personality Types contains a description of each type.

People of the same personality tend to "flock together." For example, Artistic people are attracted to making friends and working with Artistic people.

People of the same personality type working together in a job create a work environment that fits their type. For example, when Artistic persons are together on a job, they create a work environment that rewards creative thinking and behaviour – an Artistic environment. The same thing happens in an Artistic college major.

There are six basic types of work environments: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.  A later section on Holland’s Six Environment Types contains a description of each.

People who choose to work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be satisfied and successful: 

For example, Artistic people are more likely to be successful and satisfied if they choose a job that has an Artistic environment, like choosing to be a dance teacher in a dancing school – an environment "dominated" by Artistic type people where creative abilities and expression are highly valued.

How you act and feel at work depends to a large extent on your workplace environment. If you are working with people who have a personality type like yours, you will be able to do many of the things they can do, and you will feel most comfortable with them.


How is this related to the scores you receive on the Career Key?

According to the theory, you want to choose an occupation whose type is the same as, or similar to yours. This is most likely to lead to your job satisfaction and success.

A good match up is called “Congruent” (meaning “compatible, in agreement or harmony”).  Example: Imagine that your highest score on the Career Key is for the Realistic type. Looking at the table below, you can see that the most compatible job environment is Realistic. It is a congruent match. This suggests you choose from the jobs that are in the Realistic group. Or, you might choose from the jobs that fall in the Investigative or Conventional category.

Most people, in reality, are a combination of types – like Realistic-Investigative, or Artistic-Social. Therefore, you will probably want to consider occupations in more than one category.

If your two strongest personality types are Realistic and Social, Investigative and Enterprising, or Artistic and Conventional – read about “inconsistent personality patterns” and their advantages in the last section of this document.

In summary, then, you are more likely to choose a satisfying job if you choose one that fits your personality type.

 

How the Types are Related

The relationship between the six types can be seen when they are placed on a hexagon: 

The physical distance between each type shows you how close they are psychologically. It is also true that the personality types next to each other on the hexagon, are the closest psychologically.

For example, notice that the type that is the greatest distance from the Realistic type is Social.  When you read the description for these two types below, you understand why: their personalities are opposites!  Realistic and Investigative, on the other hand, are close.

 

Your Holland Scores

As you know, there are six Holland personality types.  To understand your scores, you need to be familiar with the characteristics of each type.  Take your time in reading them.  See if you can think of people who fit them.

 

HOLLAND’S SIX PERSONALITY TYPES

The description for each type below lists in order, its defining

  • Likes / Dislikes
  • Skills
  • Values
  • Self-Perceptions

 

Realistic

  • Likes to work with animals, tools, or machines; generally avoids social activities like teaching, healing and informing others.
  • Has good skills in working with tools, mechanical or electrical drawings, machines, or plants and animals.
  • Values practical things you can see, touch, and use like plants and animals, tools, equipment, or machines.
  • Sees self as practical, mechanical, and realistic.
  • Investigative
  • Likes to study and solve math or science problems; generally avoids leading, selling, or persuading people.
  • Is good at understanding and solving science and math problems.
  • Values science.
  • Sees self as precise, scientific, and intellectual.

Artistic

  • Likes to do creative activities like art, drama, crafts, dance, music, or creative writing; generally avoids highly ordered or repetitive activities.
  • Has good artistic abilities in creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.
  • Values the creative arts – like drama, music, art, or the works of creative writers.
  • Sees self as expressive, original, and independent.

Social

  • Likes to do things to help people – like teaching, counselling, nursing, or giving information.
  • Generally avoids using machines, tools, or animals to achieve a goal.
  • Is good at teaching, counselling, nursing, or giving information.
  • Values helping people and solving social problems.
  • Sees self as helpful, friendly, and trustworthy.
     

Enterprising

  • Likes to lead and persuade people, and to sell things and ideas; generally avoids activities that require careful observation and scientific, analytical thinking.
  • Is good at leading people and selling things or ideas.
  • Values success in politics, leadership, or business.
  • Sees self as energetic, ambitious, and sociable.

Conventional

  • Likes to work with numbers, records, or machines in a set, orderly way; generally avoids ambiguous, unstructured activities.
  • Is good at working with written records and numbers in a systematic, orderly way.
  • Values success in business.
  • Sees self as orderly, and good at following a set plan.

 

HOLLAND’S SIX WORK ENVIRONMENTS

Realistic
Persons having a Realistic personality type "dominate" this environment.
For example, at a construction site there will be more people having a "Realistic" personality than there will be people who have a Social or Artistic type.

"Realistic" people create a "Realistic" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are practical and mechanical – who are good at working with tools, mechanical or electrical drawings, machines, or animals.

Examples of occupations with a Realistic environment are:-

  • Farmer  Forester
  • Fire Fighter
  • Police Detective
  • Engineering Technician
  • Aircraft Pilot
  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Diesel Mechanic
  • Locomotive Engineer
  • Truck Driver
  • Dental Laboratory Technician

 

Investigative
Persons having an Investigative personality type "dominate" this environment.
For example, in a scientific laboratory there will be more persons having an "Investigative" personality than there will be people who have an Enterprising type.

"Investigative" people create an "Investigative" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are precise, scientific, and intellectual – who are good at understanding and solving science and math problems.

Examples of occupations with an Investigative environment are:-

  • Chemist 
  • Mathematician
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Biologist 
  • Dentist
  • Physician
  • Veterinarian 
  • Pharmacist
  • Medical Laboratory
  • Technologist
  • Computer Programmer
  • Economist 
  • Civil Engineer

You can see more occupations in the CareerHQ Compass at Career Options.
The two work environments that are closest to Investigative are Realistic and Artistic. The farthest away is the Enterprising environment.

Artistic
Persons having an Artistic personality type "dominate" this environment.
For example, among a group of professional musicians there will be more persons of an "Artistic" personality than there will be people who have a Conventional type.

"Artistic" people create an "Artistic" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are expressive, original, and independent – who have good artistic abilities in creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

Examples of occupations with an Artistic environment are:-

  • Dancer 
  • Book Editor
  • Talent Director
  • Fashion Designer 
  • Graphic Designer
  • Multi-Media Artist
  • Actor Disc
  • Jockey Comedian
  • Composer
  • Musician Architect

You can see more occupations in the CareerHQ Compass at Career Options.
The two work environments that are closest to Artistic are Investigative and Social. The farthest away is the Conventional environment.


Social
Persons having a Social personality type "dominate" this environment. For example, in a hospital, school, or counselling service there will be more persons having a "Social" personality than there will be people who have a Realistic type.

"Social" people create a "Social" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are helpful, friendly, and trustworthy – who are good at teaching, counselling, nursing, giving information, and solving social problems.

Examples of occupations with a Social environment are:-

  • Counsellor 
  • Probation Officer
  • Social Worker
  • Dental Assistant
  • Nurse Physical
  • Therapist
  • Teacher
  • Librarian
  • Athletic Trainer

You can see more occupations in the CareerHQ Compass at Career Options.
The two work environments that are closest to Social are Artistic and Enterprising. The farthest away is the Realistic environment.


Enterprising
Persons having an Enterprising personality type "dominate" this environment.
For example, in a business or legal setting there will be more persons having an "Enterprising" personality than there will be people who have an Investigative type.

"Enterprising" people create an "Enterprising" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are energetic, ambitious, and sociable – who are good at politics, leading people and selling things or ideas.

Examples of occupations with an Enterprising environment are:-

  • Hairstylist
  • Sales Person
  • Travel Agent
  • Engineering Manager
  • Judge
  • Lawyer
  • City Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Bank President
  • Financial Examiner
  • Customs Inspector
  • Camp Director
  • Hotel Manager
  • Real Estate Agent
  • School Principal

You can see more occupations in the CareerHQ Compass at Career Options.
The two work environments that are closest to Enterprising are Social and Conventional. The farthest away is the Investigative environment.


Conventional
Persons having a Conventional personality type "dominate" this environment.
For example, in an office of a bank or real estate company there will be more persons having a "Conventional" personality than there will be people who have an Artistic type.

"Conventional" people create a "Conventional" environment. For example, they particularly value people who are orderly, and good at following a set plan – good at working with written records and numbers in a systematic, orderly way.

Examples of occupations with a Conventional environment are:-

  • Court Clerk
  • Secretary Bookkeeper
  • Bank Teller
  • Post Office
  • Clerk Mail Carrier
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Title Examiner
  • Tax Preparer

You can see more occupations in the CareerHQ Compass at Career Options.
The two work environments that are closest to Conventional are Realistic and Enterprising. The farthest away is the Artistic environment
 

INCONSISTENT HOLLAND PERSONALITY PATTERN AND ITS ADVANTAGES IN WORK AND STUDY


Inconsistent Personality Patterns

Sometimes the six Holland personality types (Holland Codes) combine in unusual ways in people. For example, if you read the descriptions of the Investigative (I) and Enterprising (E) types, you would not expect a person to have them both as his or her two strongest personality types. Investigative people generally avoid leading, selling, or persuading people. Enterprising people, on the other hand, are just the opposite; they like these activities. And, there are two other “inconsistent”
two-letter codes: Realistic–Social (RS or SR) and Conventional–Artistic (CA or AC).

Does your personality fit together in this unusual way?  Then, you will be interested in the following advice on how it can work to your advantage.

 

“Inconsistent” Occupations & Courses of Study

There are many occupations and courses of study that attract, or are compatible with persons having an inconsistent personality pattern, where they are advantaged:

Social–Realistic / Realistic–Social: Teachers of agriculture, forestry, career and technical education, and technology; Recreational Therapy; Bus Drivers; Physical Therapy; Athletic training and sports medicine; Occupational Therapy – and the study courses / training programs that prepare these workers.
(Advantage: You can imagine, for example, how a person with SR or RS code might be attracted to becoming a Career and Technical Education Teacher… and excel in it!)

Enterprising–Investigative / Investigative–Enterprising: Sales Engineers; Urban and Regional Planners; Managers in engineering, mathematics and natural sciences; Sociologists; Scientific reporters; Editors of technical or scientific publications; and the related study courses.

(Advantage: example – In Investigative fields like science and engineering, people who have an IE code can often more easily move into a management or leadership position or start a business than Investigative people not having a strong Enterprising side to their personality.)

Tips:

  • If your personality combines in an unusual way, keep in mind: You are not abnormal or an “inconsistent” person; we all have differing gifts, value your uniqueness.
  • Choosing a career or a course of study is likely to be more challenging, but there are many for which you are uniquely qualified. And, once you are in a career, you will likely find opportunities to do tasks, or related jobs, that better fit you.
  • You may need to look for ways outside of work to satisfy the other side of your personality.
  • Professional career coaches are well qualified to help. You may want to seek the help of one.


The Author
Lawrence K. Jones is President of Career Key, Inc. and Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University.  He earned his Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. in counselling psychology from the University of Missouri.  He received the annual Professional Development Award from the American Counselling Association, and he is a National Certified Counsellor.