Monday, 13 June 2022

Holland, Gottfredson & using narrative

Originally proposed in 1959, Holland's Vocational Preference theory (Fouad et al., 2010) is a staple career assessment tool in the practitioner's kete. Noticing how career clients appeared to 'fit' with a particular role type or environment influenced Holland to develop the theory, which was then operationalised over the following decades (Fouad et al., 2010), working with a range of people, but often with Gary Gottfredson. It may be known as the Strong Interest Inventory®General Occupational Themes, Vocational Preference Inventory, Holland codes, RIASEC, or Self-Directed Search: it has evolved over the years, and as the research has grown and developedThe core idea is "that career choice is an expression of an individual’s personality and that a reciprocal relationship exists between [our clients] and their environments" (Fouad et al., 2010, p. 704). John Holland died in 2008 (Holland et al., 2020), but his hexagonal diagram (illustrating this post) lives on.

Earlier this year I attended a webinar through the Asia Pacific Career Development Association run by Dr Gottfredson and a colleague of his, ZiYoung Kang (Gottfredson & Kang, 2022a, 2022b). The presentation explored two ideas. Firstly, instead of simply using the results of the analysed instrument questionnaire, that we use a more narrative technique via an interview, and summarise the exchange between the practitioner and the client. Secondly, that we explore not the client's personality factors themselves, but environments that our clients have worked within, and summarise the role-orientation of the skills of the work using the RIASEC codes.

The webinar walked us through a practical example: that of what Professor Gottfredson's options were in his retirement, showing how questioning of desires and a knowledge of the world of work allows we practitioners to apply the RIASEC theory to the environment that our client may be considering for fit. The video can be accessed below:

Please note that attendees were asked to read a chapter before attending (Kang & Gottfredson, 2015). I have not been able to find this online to share, but perhaps you can get one from your library. However, the book detailing the Holland Occupational Codes can be accessed by creating an Open Library Account. Go to to create a user account, then go to to see the book versions available from the Open Library for checking out. Viewing the book helps to put the work into context, and can be referred to as a ready reckoner where role key skills are difficult to determine... or where we need a bit of a steer to begin.  

This was a very narrative and exploratory approach to a theory which has been considered too structured, too prescriptive and quite definitive. I found it a very useful session.

I hope you enjoy it.



  • Fouad, N. A., & Kantamneni, N. (2010). Chapter 54. Cultural Validity of Holland’s Theory. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suzuki, & C. M. Alexander (Eds.) Handbook of Multicultural Counseling (3rd ed., pp. 703-714). Sage Publications, Inc.
  • Gottfredson, G. D., & Kang, Z.-Y. (7 March 2022a). Using Holland Typology to Assess Career Personality and Future Possibilities [webinar]. Asia Pacific Career Development Association (APCDA).
  • Gottfredson, G. D., & Kang, Z.Y. (7 March 2022b). Using Holland Typology to Quickly Assess Career Personality [video].
  • Holland, J., Rayman, J. R., & Gottfredson, G. D. (Eds.) (2020). My Life with a Theory: John L. Holland's Autobiography and Theory of Careers. National Career Development Association (NCDA).
  • Kang, Z. & Gottfredson, G. D. (2015). Chapter 4: Using Holland Typology to Quickly Assess Career Personality. In P. J. Hartung, M. L. Savickas, & W. B. Walsh (Eds) APA Handbook of Career Intervention: Vol 2. Applications (pp. 41-56). American Psychological Association.
  • The Career Project. (2022). Holland Hexagon [image]. 

No comments :

Post a Comment

Thanks for your feedback. The elves will post it shortly.