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Finding the Right Job

by Mark Schultz and Luke Greiner
September 2018

When it comes to the world of employment, there may not be anything worse than disliking what you do. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, between 20 and 40 percent of workers state that they hate their job – quite a startling number.1 A more recent article from CBS News referenced a Gallup study that 16 percent of workers are "actively disengaged," resenting their jobs and dragging down office morale. 2

To put that into context, the most current estimates from DEED's Local Area Unemployment Statistics show that there are approximately 218,500 employed people in the Southwest Planning Region, which, based on the percentages listed above, would equal between 35,000 and 90,000 workers who may not like their current jobs.

As the Forbes article and other similar reports point out, there can be many negative consequences of loathing your job, both physical and mental. For example, the stress of the situation can lead a person to gain weight from stress eating or not having enough energy to participate in physical activity. It is also possible for people to be more prone to sickness, including less serious conditions such as the common cold to more serious ailments such as heart disease, as a person's immune system may be weakened. Workers may also experience mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, or experience problems sleeping, from the stress related to hating the job. One study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Stanford Universities found that stressful employment may even lead to a shorter life span.

Then there are the collateral consequences associated with disliking the work you do, including dissatisfaction and unhappiness with one's personal life, such as bringing work negativity into the home or other social settings. There is also the impact on motivation and a lack of engagement and/or productivity. Finally, those who dislike their jobs may experience a decrease in confidence and feelings of self-worth, as many people base at least part of their identity on what they do for work.

Assess for Success

Fortunately, there are assessments that can help people determine what occupations they may be more suited for and thus, hopefully, help them be happier with their job. One such interest assessment allows individuals to discover their Holland Code (based on the career development theory of John Holland), which includes six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional, as outlined in Table 1. Each individual type is associated with certain career clusters, and a typical code is a combination of the top three highest scoring letters, which when combined can allow individuals to explore both education and career options. For example, someone whose code is "SAE" may want to explore careers that match up with the social, artistic, and enterprising categories.

Jobseekers can take an assessment on O*NET that will give them their three-letter Holland Code ( and then get a listing of specific occupations that are best related to their code. They can also use the letters in their unique code to do their own exploration using DEED's data tools.

Table 1. Holland Codes and Descriptions
Code Description
Realistic (Doers) Working with tools/machines/plants/animals; avoids social activities; drawn to practical things than can be used, seen, and touched; views self as "practical, mechanical, and realistic"
Investigative (Thinkers) Good at studying and solving math and science; avoids being a leader, selling, and/or persuading; sees value in science and views self as "precise, scientific, and intellectual"
Artistic (Creators) Creativity, such art, drama, dance, music, writing; stays clear of tasks that are orderly or repetitive; views self as "expressive, original, and independent"
Social (Helpers) Doing things that help people and solving social problems, such as teaching, counseling, and nursing; avoids mechanical things and tasks that require tools; views self as "helpful, friendly, and trustworthy"
Enterprising (Persuaders) Leader and persuasive; selling things and ideas; avoids tasks that require meticulous observing/analytical thinking; views self as "energetic, ambitious, and social"
Conventional (Organizers) Working with numbers/records; values doing things in a systematic and orderly fashion and avoids unstructured activities, finds value in business success; views self as "orderly and good at following a set plan"
Source: (

Applying What You've Discovered

Once people discover their Holland Code, they can focus in on certain occupational groups that are better suited to their interests. For example, those who score high in the Realistic area may find more enjoyment in careers in architecture, engineering, or production, while those who are more Social may be better suited for occupations in health care, social services, or education (see Table 2).

Table 2. Holland Codes and Related Career Clusters
Code Career Clusters
Realistic Agriculture and Natural Resources; Safety and Law Enforcement; Engineering; Transportation and Distribution; Construction Crafts and Support; Mechanical, Electrical-Electronic, Metal, Wood, and Plastic Crafts; Food Preparation; Systems Operation; Manufacturing and Production
Investigative Physical, Life, and Health Sciences; Laboratory and Medical Technology; Computer Science and Technology, Mathematics and Data Analysis; Social Sciences; Engineering
Artistic Literary and Visual Arts; Drama and Dance; Music; Communications
Social Social Services; Nursing, Therapy and Health Promotion; Child and Adult Care; Education and Library Services; Sport, Recreation, and Fitness
Enterprising Sales and Purchasing; Hospitality, Beauty, and Customer Services; Legal Practice and Support; Business Administration and Finance; Government and Public Administration; Promotion; Regulations Enforcement
Conventional Mathematical and Financial Detail; Oral Communications; Materials and Records Processing; Administrative Detail
Source: (

Where to Go From Here

The next step is to move beyond these broad occupational groups and start exploring specific occupations that may be of greater interest and subsequently greater job satisfaction. Luckily, DEED provides ample labor market data to give people looking for their first job, a new career, or an educational program the information needed to determine what the labor market looks like for occupations that match their Holland Code. There are two pivotal data tools that offer essential labor market information: Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) and Job Vacancy Survey (JVS).

As shown in Table 3, the Southwest Planning Region employs close to 180,000 workers in 22 occupational groups with median wages across all occupations in the region sitting at $17.14 per hour. DEED's Occupational Employment Statistics data offer employment and wage data for about 800 detailed occupations.

Just over half of the total employment in the region lies within five occupational groups: office and administrative support, production, food preparation and serving, sales, and transportation and material moving. When linked to Holland Codes, these top five groups cover a wide range of interests. For example, office and administrative support occupations may be a good fit for someone who scores high as conventional, whereas food preparation and serving jobs may be well suited for those with high realistic scores.

Table 3. Southwest Minnesota Occupational Employment Statistics, 2018
Occupational Group Regional Employment Percent of Employment Median Hourly Wage
Total, All Occupations 179,500 100.0% $17.14
Office and Administrative Support 25,000 13.9% $16.62
Production 18,590 10.4% $16.63
Food Preparation and Serving Related 17,180 9.6% $10.48
Sales and Related 17,090 9.5% $12.52
Transportation and Material Moving 13,320 7.4% $17.48
Education, Training, and Library 12,600 7.0% $20.96
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 10,050 5.6% $28.05
Personal Care and Service 9,200 5.1% $12.60
Construction and Extraction 8,370 4.7% $23.06
Management 8,140 4.5% $38.58
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 7,290 4.1% $21.41
Healthcare Support 6,720 3.7% $13.74
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 5,880 3.3% $12.29
Business and Financial Operations 5,350 3.0% $27.70
Community and Social Services 3,740 2.1% $21.40
Protective Service 2,590 1.4% $19.70
Architecture and Engineering 2,270 1.3% $30.52
Computer and Mathematical 1,910 1.1% $28.04
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 1,490 0.8% $17.27
Life, Physical, and Social Science 1,210 0.7% $26.11
Legal 800 0.4% $34.49
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 700 0.4% $14.91
Source: DEED Occupational Employment Statistics

However, it is important to understand that not all occupations within a given group may be a good fit for certain Holland Codes. For example, there are a wide variety of specific occupations within the food preparation and serving group, some of which may fit one of the Holland Codes better than others. This occupational group includes food preparation, cooks, and dishwashers, which can be more likely to be characterized by minimal social interaction and thus a better fit for someone who is higher on the realistic scale. In contrast, this group also includes servers, bartenders, and waiters or waitresses, which can have a higher degree of social interaction and may be a better fit for someone high on the social code. In addition, jobseekers can determine whether the wages for occupations that are a good fit are high enough to cover their cost of living needs.

Current Demand

Beyond that, DEED's Job Vacancy Survey provides data on the number of job openings, typical wage offers, and education requirements for these jobs in the region and statewide. The Job Vacancy Survey uses the same occupational groups as the Occupational Employment Statistics and can be linked to Holland Codes in the same fashion. Thus jobseekers who are looking for their first job or a job change, can determine the number of job openings for occupations that are linked to their Holland Code.

When looking at the vacancy data, jobseekers may find themselves excited as well as discouraged at the number and nature of the vacancies. For example, jobseekers with a social code may be pumped to see that there are over 1,900 vacancies (25.5 percent) in occupational groups that are more suited to their work interests – especially working with people, such as vacancies in personal care and service, healthcare, and community and social service. However, they may experience some discouragement when faced with the reality that a decent percent of these vacancies are part-time and often have lower median wage offers.

In contrast, investigative jobseekers may be disappointed to see that there are far fewer vacancies available in the computer and mathematical and in life, physical, and social science occupations that would match up to their interests. However, they may be thrilled that the median wage offers for these vacancies are relatively high (see Table 4).

While this information is helpful, it's not to say that if a person's Holland Code is related to computer and mathematical or life, physical, and social science occupations, which currently have only 63 vacancies (0.8 percent) in the region, that it would not be an avenue to pursue. Rather, the wage and demand data might just help inform an individual of the potential difficulty obtaining employment in an occupation within this group.

Table 4. Southwest Minnesota Job Vacancy Survey Results, Qtr. 4 2017
Occupational Group Vacancies Percent Part-Time Percent Temporary or Seasonal Percent Req. Post-Secondary Education Percent Req. 1+ Yrs. Exp. Median Wage Offer
Total, All Occupations 7,493 41% 9% 30% 39% $13.70
Sales and Related 1,149 56% 11% 16% 31% $11.21
Food Preparation and Serving Related 1,036 75% 7% 1% 14% $9.99
Production 853 3% 7% 18% 35% $13.98
Personal Care and Service 747 63% 2% 20% 9% $10.62
Transportation and Material Moving 682 41% 33% 3% 40% $13.89
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 603 28% 1% 90% 74% $23.62
Office and Administrative Support 502 40% 5% 35% 48% $13.95
Healthcare Support 310 56% 1% 52% 19% $13.71
Management 238 0% 0% 66% 81% $26.21
Architecture and Engineering 222 0% 0% 87% 91% $23.86
Construction and Extraction 205 0% 0% 6% 51% $18.58
Education, Training, and Library 182 44% 52% 90% 77% $17.54
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 164 69% 6% 0% 16% $11.43
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 124 13% 0% 38% 53% $16.56
Business and Financial Operations 99 1% 1% 72% 92% $18.63
Protective Service 98 63% 16% 39% 40% $17.71
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 86 0% 1% 52% 70% $17.39
Community and Social Service 70 12% 3% 63% 80% $17.43
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 38 55% 50% 41% 78% $13.51
Computer and Mathematical 34 0% 11% 83% 69% $23.08
Life, Physical, and Social Science 29 0% 0% 74% 42% $16.03
Source: DEED Job Vacancy Survey

1 Stahl, Ashley. "Hate Your Job? Here's What It's Costing You." March 3, 2016. Retrieved from

2 Robaton, Anna. "Why so many Americans hate their jobs." March 31, 2017. Retrieved from

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