Assessment Science

What are Holland Codes?

What are Holland Codes?

  • LAST UPDATED: Feb. 6, 2019

Holland Codes are a set of traits that measure your interest in broadly defined groups of activities. Because they’re broad, and because they’re specifically designed for career selection, Holland Codes are a good high-level indicator for the kinds of careers you would enjoy. For this reason, the CareerExplorer career test measures them very early on, in the welcome assessment module.

The six traits that make up the Holland Code model are sometimes referred to with the acronym RIASEC, and each one represents a person’s interest in certain types of work-related activities:

  • Realistic: Independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty. They like tasks that are tactile, physical, athletic, or mechanical. They also enjoy being outdoors, using tools, operating machines, interacting with animals, and working with their hands.
  • Investigative: Intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. They are also scholarly, scientific, technical, or medical. Those who score highly on Investigative are avid readers. They like to solve problems, perform experiments, and conduct research.
  • Artistic: Creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. They rely on feelings, imagination, and inspiration. They like to work with ideas, abstractions, and concepts. They are spontaneous and open-minded.
  • Social: Kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly. They excel at socializing, helping others, and teaching. They like tasks that involve teamwork, social interaction, relationship building, and improvement of society.
  • Enterprising: Adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. They like influencing others, being in charge, taking risks, debating, and competing.
  • Conventional: Conscientious and conservative. They are logical, efficient, orderly, and organized. They are thorough and detail-oriented. They value precision and accuracy. They are reliable. They enjoy practical tasks, quantitative measurements, and structured environments. They follow the rules.

In the CareerExplorer career test, an individual can have any score for any Holland Code trait. For example, you could be highly realistic and highly artistic, or you could score low on both, and so on.

Holland Codes (or Holland Occupational Themes) were created in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s by the psychologist John L. Holland, and are used extensively by the US government in its online career database O*NET.