The RIASEC Model (“Holland Codes”)

The RIASEC model (aka the “Holland Codes”) is a type theory of personality, which was introduced by American psychologist Dr. John Holland. By comparison to other personality models, the RIASEC model is particularly well-suited to helping individuals choose a career. In fact, that’s what it was originally designed for.

The 6 RIASEC Types

Holland proposed that there are six personality types that are determined by our interest and how we approach life situations. The six types introduced by Holland are:

  1. Realistic personalities (doers), who are people who like to work with ‘things’. They tend to be assertive, competitive and are interested in activities that require motor coordination, skill and strength.
  2. Investigative personalities (thinkers), who like to solve complex problems and prefer to work analytically and with data.
  3. Artistic personalities (creators), who think outside the box, like to find new ideas and see things from a different perspective.
  4. Social personalities (helpers), who like people and like to serve and help people. They tend to find great joy in helping and healing others.
  5. Enterprising personalities (persuaders) are those who like to lead people, who are good at persuading others and can sell ice to an Eskimo.
  6. Conventional personalities (organizers) are organized, accurate and methodical. They like things to be done on time and adhere to rules and regulations.

What is important to remember, is that Dr. Holland did not say that we are simply just one of these types… that would mean that there are only six types of people in the world!

Instead, the RIASEC model proposes that any one person can have interests associated with all six personality types. Our interests of these are then ranked, in order, to give us each a Holland code (e.g., IRCAES would mean that your interests would align most with the investigative personality, and then the realistic and so on) leading to each of us having a unique pattern.

In total, there are 720 different combinations of personality types. However, only the first three letters are focused on for assessment or intervention.

Matching Codes to Careers

According to Holland, our occupational preference is a sense of underlying character. Holland proposed that our work environment can also be described with respect to the codes and that certain individuals, with the corresponding personality, more likely to thrive, succeed and flourish the matching work environment. By taking the RIASEC test, its possible to measure your preference in each area and thus compute your overall code (or “type”).

All personality types are equally as important, and every industry will require people with each personality – we just need to find the specific career in that industry that matches our personality. Of course, we are likely to share interests with more than one personality type, meaning we may need to explore a few career paths.

Overall, there is a sizable amount of empirical evidence to support Holland’s theory and the RIASEC model as well as its application to the workplace – making it a very valuable tool (and theory) to all of us.