Career assessments match interests to work possibilities

Using Holland code to explore your options

If you are career undecided, you probably wish there was some kind of test you could take that would tell you exactly what to do with your life. You are in luck: the Holland code does just that. Sort of.

The Holland code is an empirically supported personality test which assesses six dimensions of interest: social, enterprising, investigative, conventional, artistic and realistic to connect you to occupations which match your interests.

Most people will have a three-dimension type, with one dominant dimension and secondary and tertiary dimensions.

Of course, you are much more complicated than your interests alone. Your aptitudes, values, geographic location, local labour market and educational aspirations are not measured by this assessment.

No test will ever give you a complete picture of who you are and what your future could be. What this assessment can do, however, is open your mind to opportunities you may not have considered before.

And sometimes it simply helps to have words to describe things you already know about yourself and how you like to work.

Let’s dig into the six dimensions of the Holland code and the occupations you might consider based on your type.



If you are social, you identify as a helper.

Others might describe you as patient, empathetic and communicative.

You are likely the person others turn to when they need someone to support them through a problem. Social people gravitate to work that allows them to heal, counsel or teach.

Related jobs will put your helpful and supportive nature to work. If you are social, consider a career in something like marriage and family therapy, career development, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy or corrections.


Enterprising people are comfortable taking charge. They enjoy roles requiring decision-making and are comfortable taking risks.

If you are enterprising, you might identify as energetic, ambitious and assertive.

Enterprising people often thrive as lawyers, financial advisors, sales representatives and sustainability specialists. Remember, leaders exist in all professions. If you have an enterprising streak, find your leadership fix by moving into a management role in any field.


Investigative people are the intellectuals. They love to learn and do not mind working in a job which requires them to go to school for a long time.

The more mentally challenging the job, the happier an investigative person will be.

If you are investigative, you might make an excellent chemist, biomedical engineer, water resource specialist or software developer.


Conventional folks are the organizers.

If you are conventional, you want a job where you will know what to expect when you get to work every day. You are most comfortable in a routine.

Conventional people are great with data and are extremely detail-oriented. If you are conventional, you are the person others turn to when they need an efficient, logical solution.

Conventional people might consider becoming a statistician, accountant, librarian, dental assistant or database administrator.


These are the creatives. Artistic people might be creative in a traditional sense, loving music, art or writing, but they can also be artistic in their thinking, preferring open-ended problems and creative environments.

You prefer a job that is not bound by arbitrary rules and allows you to express yourself.

Let your artistic side shine as a technical writer, astronomer, geneticist, art therapist or landscape architect.


If you are realistic, you are the hands-on type. The idea of working a desk job is your own personal hell.

You thrive in an environment that keeps you moving, using tools and technology to get the job done. Your idea of an excellent Friday night might involve taking something apart then putting it back together again.

Realistic types may enjoy being an athletic therapist, animal trainer, civil engineer, pilot or biologist.

Finding your type

If you want to know your Holland code, there are a few ways to figure it out. You can try a free online assessment like the O*NET Interest Profiler, which will give you your type and suggest related occupations.

Sometimes these assessments can be hard to explore on your own. Take your results with you and go talk to a career consultant if you would like support broadening your options and incorporating information about yourself beyond what is measured in a Holland code.

If you are seeking a more intensive assessment, you can also pay to have a career consultant or psychologist interpret the Strong Interest Inventory. Career Services at the U of M offers this service for $30 for students.

Your Holland code is one way to conceptualize yourself as a worker and imagine personally relevant opportunities for your future