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 exactly what it was designed to do. Indeed, taking a RIASEC test is a great initial step in the journey of career discovery.

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) 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) are the types of people who like working with ideas and concepts. They like to do things that involve theory, research, and intellectual inquiry.
  3. Artistic personalities (creators) like to think outside the box. They like to find new and creative ideas and enjoy seeing things from a different perspective.
  4. Social personalities (helpers) like to serve and help others. They tend to find great joy in forming close relationships with others.
  5. Enterprising personalities (persuaders) like to lead people. They have excellent social skills and are good at persuading others – often they are described as being able to “sell ice to an Eskimo”.
  6. Conventional personalities (organizers) are organized, accurate and methodical. They like things to be done on time and they strictly adhere to rules and regulations.

The 720 Personality Combinations

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 unique Holland code. For example, if IRCAES was your Holland code, this would mean that your interests would align most with the Investigative personality type and then the Realistic followed by Conventional, and so on.

In total, there are 720 different combinations of personality types. When you take a RIASEC test you should get a score weighting your preference or dominance across all 6 types. However, only the first three letters are focused on for assessment or intervention.

Matching Codes to Careers

The Holland Code model was designed specifically for workplace use. Holland proposed that work environment can be described with respect to the codes. By finding work environments that match our personality, we are more likely to thrive, succeed and flourish.

All personality types are equally as important, and every industry will require people with each personality – you just need to find the specific career in that industry that matches your unique 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.

Taking the RIASEC Test

The Holland Code personality test (RIASEC test) is a speedy and simple test to take. It is comprised of 72 questions and takes less than five minutes to complete. You will be asked to mark how much certain activities would interest you – you must quite simply think about whether or not you would enjoy doing such an activity. Activities include things such as “using precision machines to build custom metal parts”, “analyzing the structure of molecules” or “teaching adults to read”.

The Holland Code report is completely free. At first, you take a look at how your interests align with each of the six Holland types. After this, your primary interest is then explored in detail. Your ideal job tasks, core values and key personality traits, based on your primary type, are then discussed.

The Holland Code reports also includes a quick glimpse at your secondary personality type. You will explore, based on your primary and secondary type, what careers are the most likely to match your personality.

RIASEC vs. Strong Interest Inventory

The Strong Interest Inventory® is an inventory assessment tool created by The Myers Briggs Company, and it is based on the RIASEC model (Holland Codes) originally developed by John Holland.

Related: Ultimate Guide to the Strong Interest Inventory