Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Finding Employers That Fit You

Personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs, Strong, and Holland are mainstays of the career counseling profession. By taking a personality test, you can narrow the list of professions whose duties and demands are a good fit for your personality. Many job seekers don’t realize that you can also apply the principles of personality analysis to employers to find those whose operating styles fit you best.

The personality theory and test developed by Dr. John Holland is especially useful for career self-guidance because of its simplicity and direct applicability to the job market. Holland’s test asks questions about jobs and duties that interest you and then groups your answers into six personality categories and associated professions:

  • Realistic - hands-on physical professions: trades, machine operator, engineer, police
  • Investigative - scientific, intellectual professions: lab technician, scientist, analyst
  • Artistic - creative professions: artist, musician, graphic designer, creative writer
  • Social - helping, interpersonal professions: social worker, counselor, nurse, teacher
  • Enterprising - sales professions: salesperson, entrepreneur, marketing manager
  • Conventional - rules, records, and numbers professions: accountant, clerk, banker

The category in which you score highest (and possibly the next one or two highest categories) defines the dominant aspect(s) of your personality. You can see in the hexagonal chart that some personalities and professions are opposites, and others are “neighbors.” For example, Artists usually crave freedom, openness, and self-expression, while Conventionals prefer rules, order, and structure. These professions are opposites. However, Social personalities are “neighbors” to Artistic personalities, so the two are compatible.

How do you know what a business's "personality" is? You can't give everybody in the place a personality test, so the next best way is to assume the personality of the business most likely matches the Holland Code for the predominant profession in that business. An accounting business probably has a Conventional personality type, a graphic design business probably has an Artistic personality, and so on. There will undoubtedly be many exceptions, but it's a safe bet the business will approximately match the code for the profession that predominates there. You can also gauge for yourself if you interview there. 

By looking at the predominant personality of a business, you can get some idea about whether it will suit you. Are you an Artistic personality considering working for an accounting firm? Then you are likely to feel ill at ease in their exacting, rule-driven Conventional environment. Are you a Conventional personality working in a police department? Their Realistic style will probably feel OK to you. Are you an Enterprising personality working for a PR firm or a marketing department? You’ve likely found your perfect match in their Enterprising environment. The more similar your personality is to the “personality” of the employer, the better you will fit with them.

For more detailed information about Holland’s personality theory, visit  
For a free test to find out your Holland Code, go to; the results point you to professions that may fit your personality. Click on the profession for an in-depth job description.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Chuck and Laura! This appears to be an excellent additional tool for job hunters to leverage for assessing the right 'fit' between themselves and the organization. I just tried out the Holland link (thanks!) and it most certainly put me in the ball park in terms of my interests (careers/industries). A couple of the identified job titles surprised me a bit, and it's rather fun to think about them, whereas I would have never considered them on my own!