Personality and Career Choice
by Daniel Njoroge
Personality and Career Choice – Where do you fall?
John Holland, one of the key contributors to the field of career development, suggests that our personality determines the kinds of environments we choose to work in. He came up with six personality types and described them as follows:
• Realistic Personality Type
These people have preference for manipulation of tools, objects, machines and animals. They usually avoid social situations and value concrete vs. abstract objects such as power and money. They may seem non-conforming, genuine, hard headed, normal, persistent, practical, inflexible and un-insightful. Usually have mechanical abilities. Most jobs they take are stereotypically considered masculine jobs. Examples include – plumber, electrician, machine operator, mechanic, photographer, and draftsman.
• Investigative Personality Type
They are scientific, analytical, cautious, critical thinkers, curious, permissive, reserved, and unpopular. Very task-oriented, independent and may defer leadership to others. Examples – chemists, physicists, computer programmer, electronics worker.
• Artistic Personality Type
Prefers self expression through the arts, imaginative, independent, introspective, ambiguous, free, unsystematic, expressive, original, intuitive, disorderly, and complicated. Examples – artists, designer, sculptor, writer.
• Social Personality Type
Prefers social interactions and has good communication skills, is concerned with social problems, is community service oriented, interested in educational activities. Likes to manipulate others- but not in a devious way-to inform, train, develop or cure them. Cooperative, patient, kind, persuasive, helpful, tactful. Examples – teacher, counsellor, nurse, social worker, sociologist.
• Enterprising Personality Type
Prefers leadership roles, domineering, and ambitious, persuasive, good verbal skills. Manipulates others to achieve organizational goals and for economical gain. Have strong leadership skills, extrovert, and social, optimistic and self confident. Examples – managers, salesmen, real estate, insurance sales people.
• Conventional Personality Type
Practical, well controlled, sociable prefers structured tasks such as systematizing and manipulation of data and word processing. Good at data analyst, record keeping and filing. Orderly, careful, efficient, inflexible, methodical, obedient. Examples – clerical workers, secretaries, file clerk, bookkeeper, receptionist and credit manager.
No one person fits in a pure personality category. Holland suggests that even though we may have some qualities in four or more categories, we tend to have characteristics that will fit into three major categories. Thus individuals are described as RAE, SEC, RIA ands so forth, depending on the combinations of categories that most fits the individual. So, where do you think you fall?
Steps into a career Choice
Deciding on what career to pursue can be a difficult task without the proper guidance. The most important thing to remember is that there is no perfect career for one person, and the choice of career will be determined by interplay of factors. Some experts suggest that career choice is a lifelong affair that begins from early childhood and develops as one grows and matures, and encounters experiences and environments that will shape their values, interests and preferences.
Others suggest that career choice is purely as a result of specific personality traits that an individual possesses, and that due to these traits, the individual will prefer certain work environments.
Still, others suggest that interplay of personality traits and developmental and environmental experiences will determine the choice of career.
Keeping in mind that there is no perfect career for one single person, it then follows that there are a lot of options out there for any one individual.
However, it would be unrealistic to imagine that all those options are suitable for you. Career planning has three steps that you will cycle through and repeat throughout your working life.
By following these steps, you can make career decisions that are right for you. You'll know what your options are and what it will take to reach your goals.
• Know Yourself:
You need to take a realistic look at your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. What do you know about yourself? What can you or can’t you do? What are your goals in life? What can help or hinder you from achieving these goals? Be realistic about your geographical, economic, social and family related constraints. What do you like to do? What subjects appeal to you? What activities do you enjoy performing? What are your basic work values?
In answering these questions, you may start with a general area of interest such as – “I like working with people”, or “I like physical work”, or “I like working with data” – then you can get more specific.
• Explore your options:
It's hard to know what you want to do "when you grow up" if you aren't even aware of the possibilities. At this stage, you need to come up with jobs that fall in with your interests, values and experiences. To help you come up with the jobs, think about people you've read about or met who have interesting jobs, or use the career quizzes that are available on-line.
If you are in school, see a career counsellor and talk to your teachers. Discuss your career and educational plans with your parents or other interested people. In exploring your options you need to consider issues that can affect your plans and take appropriate actions to accomplish your goals. Consider:
• What do you need to study?
• What schools offer the training you need?
• How will you pay for school?
• Are you ready to search for a job?
• If working, how will you balance your work and going to school?
• How will you manage family or relationship commitments?
• Consider how to get there
This does not mean that you plan your whole life right now. It helps to find out what kinds of courses or classes you might need to take.
This information can be obtained through informational interviews, career counsellors or through the Ministry of Labour office in your area. Once you focus on possible jobs, try to really dive into them by doing either of the following:
• Volunteer somewhere that's in a similar field.
• Look into a paid or unpaid internship.
• Shadow someone to see a day-in-the-life.
• Research, by visiting the Library, Education or Labour offices or useful website.
• Find a mentor who can give you perspective and advice.
Informational interviews would come in handy here.
Even if you decide not to pursue a related career, you'll have gained valuable experience and gone a step further in enriching your knowledge base.