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Holland Theory

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2b. John Holland’s theory
John Holland is the most well known career theories among others. Holland’s theory of career development is a significant vocational theory in career development. Holland’s theory emerged from the Factor and Trait Theory. The theory assumes that individual’s personality characteristics and occupational environment should match to lead success.
There are six premises that can be used to explain Holland’s theory. This theory states that most people have one of the six personality types which are realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional. These categories can be represented in the form of a hexagon which reveals the extent to which each of the categories link with each other. For example studies indicate that categories which lie close to each other in the hexagon is most possible strongly correlate with each other than those who lie at a distance.
Individuals who fall into the realistic type are often practical minded and physically strong. They also like to work outdoors and have difficulty communicating feelings. They dislike radical ideas but like to build or repair things. They are not too social keen on socializing but aggressive and like to create things with their own hands. They will like activities requiring motor skill and coordination. Examples of suitable jobs are farmer, truck driver, builder, pilot or builder.
The investigative type consists of individuals who prefer solving mathematical problems but do not like rules. They like science but not mostly interested in working with other people. They have original and creative in scientific areas, independent and rational. They also try to understand and curious about physical work and are challenged by theoretical problems. Examples of suitable jobs are chemist, mathematician, pharmacist, dentist or researcher.
Individuals who fall into the artistic type tend to be more self expressive and creative in artistic media such as writing, music and art. They like to work alone. Due to their sensitiveness, they don't like structure and unconventional. They also like to express feelings and to be themselves. Examples of suitable jobs are artist, actor, dancer, designer, DJ, composer or painter.
Those who fall into the social category are concerned with welfare of others, responsible, get along well with people, express themselves well, sociable, like attention, tend to be popular, like to be a leaders, like intense relationships with others, and solve problems by discussing them with others.
The enterprising type are good with words, enthusiastic, like leadership roles, adventurous, like to persuade others to a viewpoint, energetic, self-confident, don't like work that requires long periods of intellectual effort, like material wealth, like to work in expensive settings.
The conventional types dislike work requiring physical skills, dependable, like to know what's expected of them, stable, prefer structured activities, good self-control, don't mind rules and regulations, know what is right and wrong, don't seek leadership roles, and like well-defined tasks (Smart, Feldman & Ethington, 2006).
Holland states that people of the same personality tend to stick together, working in a specific context, and create a working environment that fits their type (Myors, 1996). He also refers to six basic types of work environments: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. People who choose to work in an environment similar to their personality type are more likely to be successful and satisfied. How one acts and feels at work depends to a large extent on their workplace environment. Lastly, if you are working with people who have a personality type like yours, you will be able to do many of the things they can do, and you will feel most comfortable with them. Therefore, this means that one should probably choose an occupation whose type is the same as, or similar to, their personality type. Holland provides a criterion that people can use to base their career decisions on by checking which personality type they fall in according to which best describes them. Individuals need to be aware of aspects of their personality (self knowledge) in order to determine where they fall. Therefore, one must be able to match their personality and compatibility with the work environment to ensure a successful and satisfactory career.
Holland believed that career success largely depended on the congruency between the person’s personality and the work environment. Holland’s premise of the immutability of individual personality traits and the necessity of matching them with occupational or academic environment to achieve success has been criticized. Feldman, Smart and Ethington (2004) argue that the emphasis on the congruency as criterion to judge success in explaining vocational interests and behaviors when the focus is on educational interests and behaviors might be problematic reflect upon the fact that historically educational institutions such as universities and colleges have sought to promote student growth and development of multiple and distinctive abilities and interest domain regardless of initial individual personality characteristics. Therefore, the argument centers on the question of immutability of characteristics as well as if such a concept is valid in the development of individuals.
In summary, Holland’s theory predicts that individuals will choose careers which are consistent with their personal characteristics, however, lack of self knowledge and career information might impede on making career choices which might lead to individuals making career choices that lie outside individual’s dominant personality domains resulting in poor personality or occupational fit. Therefore, like Parsons’ theory, it is vital that individual acquire the necessary career knowledge and self knowledge during career decision-making. This again illustrates the importance of exploring career knowledge and self knowledge. It is important to note though that personality characteristics are not dull but evolve as the individual develops. Therefore, it becomes difficult to predict that an individual’s present match between personality traits and occupations choice will be stable across their life time. As stated above, it may not always be possible for individuals to acquire work that compliments their traits.

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