John Holland made his mark from 1953-1556 while working at Vocational Counseling Service in Perry Point Veterans Hospital followed by his work as the Director of Research for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. His work at these two organizations leads to the first edition of Vocational Preference Inventory. In 1959, John Holland was published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology for his vocational theory (Gottfredson & Johnstun, 2009). He established his theory of matching people to vocations in the world of work.
Although the trait and factor approach was established in 1909, John Holland took it a step further using the Army as his model (Bolles & Figler, 1999). John Holland was quoted, “I am a psychologist who pays attention to the obvious” (Bolles & Figler, 1999, p. 63). This was the theme of his theory. Holland theory is about the fit of the individual to the work environment. Some clients will be better suited for certain working environments and poorly matched to others (Anderson & Vandehey, 2012).
The Holland theory is based on identification of people environment, skills, and values leading into six occupational categories known as ‘RIASEC’ (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional) (Bolles & Figler, 1999). Although each category is consider a unaltered type of personality most clients will not fit into just one type. Holland’s theory assigns them a set of two or three of the types (Anderson & Vandehey, 2012).
The first of Holland’s types, realistic, are clients who have athletic or mechanical ability, work with objects, machines, tools, plants, animals and the outdoors. Realistic client will be competent in reading blue prints, repair of furniture, making mechanical types of drawings, using special instruments such as a voltmeter, and will also have good math and mechanical backgrounds. They will also have interests in woodwork, metal work, and easily work with tools. Some realistic occupations would include radio operator, civil engineer, machinist, or piano tuner (Bolles & Figler, 1999).
The next type, investigative, will be clients who like to observe, learn, analyze, investigative, solve problems or evaluate in general. Their proficiencies include scientific and technical training using a slide rule or microscope, using a logarithmic table, describes white blood cells by their uses, interpret chemical formulas, and understand the workings of a vacuum tube. These clients readily enjoy scientific books, lab work, chemistry, math puzzles, and normally take several classes in physics, math, and biology.
Investigative job opportunities could be physician, math teacher, lab technician, or oceanographer (Bolles & Figler, 1999). The artistic clients, Holland’s third type, are innovating or intuitive thinkers, like to work in unrestrictive environments, and tend to be extremely creative or imaginative. Skills for creative people would contain playing a musical instrument, choir, designing, creating photography or art, or read/write poetry. Artistic types, according to Holland, would enjoy sketching, attending plays, taking an art class, or reading popular fiction.
Occupations for these clients can be drama coach, advertising executive, photographer, or foreign language interpreter (Bolles & Figler, 1999). Holland’s fourth types of clients, social, like to work with people by informing, helping, training, or are skilled with words. These clients will feel competent with peers older than them, easily plan a school or church function, and are good judge of others personalities. They will belong to clubs, write letters, attend sports events, go to parties, help others with personal problems, and like to meet new people.
Director of social services, employment representative, counselor, recreation administrator, and Foreign Service officer are a few of the occupations well suited for a social Holland code (Bolles & Figler, 1999). Enterprising, Holland’s fifth code, are comprised of clients that a people-influencing, leaders, persuaders, or economic goal friendly. They easily sell, influence others, give pep talks, meet important people, and discuss politics. In college or high school these clients were elected to office, organized clubs, debated, supervised the work of others, or acted as a spokesperson for a cause.
They become bankers, personnel recruiters, labor arbitrators, insurance managers, and small business owners (Bolles & Figler, 1999). The conventional is the last of Holland’s types. Conventional types like to work with data and carrying out in detailed instructions. They have the ability to file correspondence, work in office setting, type 40 words per minute, use shorthand, post credits and debits, and keep accurate records. They may have done bookkeeping, operated business machines, written business letters, or maintain neat records and files.
Conventational types are often employed as accountants, credit managers, payroll clerks, bookkeepers, library assistants or personnel secretary (Bolles & Figler, 1999). Holland realized that not every client would fit into a type nice and neatly hence the Holland two or three codes are established in order to have a person in a job that would give work satisfaction. They are several resources available to clients and counselors to aid in discovering a client’s RIASEC code. The Self-Directed Search (SDS) was first published in 1970 and was development by John Holland.
The advantage of this assessment is that it is intended for the college or adult setting. The written version not only includes the assessment but also Holland’s Occupation Finder (OF) booklet for a counselor to use with their clients. Holland also created a seven page booklet, You and Your Career, that can be used to enhance the SDS and OF with suggestions for effective career planning (Reardon & Lumsden, 2002). Later, Holland, with Amy Powell, created SDS Career Explorer designed for middle school students along with his booklet Exploring Your Future with the SDS.
Along with the assessment are several tools for educators and students alike. Holland, along with several other colleagues, has expanded the abilities of instruments to include measures for stability, environment, and additional resource to ensure understanding of the instruments and proper use and application (Reardon & Lumsden, 2002). In my world of career counseling, I apply Holland’s theory of putting the right client into the best fit for client. I agree with his theory that if a client is not using the skills or interests that they enjoy that will have poor performance.
This ultimately in my opinion leads to job hopping, lack of self-efficacy, and depression. I have the advantage of money on my side and we use the program Discover for most assessments. However, I do not always jump to test. By having knowledge of Holland theory and his types and code match through counselor I am able to get a client to find their career goals on their own without test. With my “type” of client they do not want to sit through testing no matter how short it is, they already have to study for their current jobs, college classes, and advancement exams.
I try to incorporate Holland’s theory daily which can have its drawbacks. They occupation that my client would be good at may not have openings or worse the Navy does not have it, so I try help them compromise with community service or college course that would satisfy their needs. Over the last ten years, I have learned that I am not the answer person more like their vessel to maintenance phase of their transition cycles (Anderson & Vandehey, 2002). I could not trade in the feeling of when I see them finally figure out what they want to do when the grow up.