Friday, November 1, 2013

Workforce Trends and Personality Types (part 1 of 3)

In last week's blog, I looked at some occupations that combine personality types that are often thought of as opposites. This week, I want to look at trends in the workforce from the standpoint of personality types. Which personality types are seeing greater opportunities, and which are seeing opportunities drying up?

(Last week, I said that this week's blog would compare the John Holland personality types using the statistical technique called correlation. I've since decided that this topic would be too dry for this venue. If you're curious about the results I found, please e-mail me at Laurence[at]

 To create the graph that follows, I looked at the workforce sizes reported by the Occupational Employment Statistics program for May 2002 and May 2012. I clustered the occupations by their primary Holland types, and here are the changes I found:

This graph should be no surprise if you have been following workforce trends. You can see that the only personality type that actually sees a decrease in workforce size is the Realistic type. This 7 percent decrease is largely the result of the shift away from manufacturing jobs, so many of which involve hands-on Realistic work. Note that this decrease does not necessarily mean that less manufacturing is now going on in the United States. It reflects a decrease in the number of jobs, not in the amount of economic activity. Automation has replaced many of the jobs formerly held by Realistic workers.

The biggest increases are in the workforces where Investigative and Social personality types are employed. These increases reflect the growing importance of research and development, health care, and education.

The increases for the Enterprising and Conventional personality types, 2 percent each, are identical to the overall growth of the American workforce. In other words, the occupations appealing to these personality types are holding their own but not gaining in importance.

For me, the biggest surprise was the 7 percent increase in the workforce for the Artistic type. It turns out that our media-rich culture accounts for much of this increase: The number of Graphic Designers increased by 49,610 workers (35 percent) and Interpreters and Translators by 31,720 workers (171 percent).

What can you do if your personality type aligns with a workforce that is shrinking or expanding at a tepid rate? Keep in mind that even a shrinking workforce offers many job opportunities, including hires that result from attrition and turnover. In addition, you may find satisfaction in an occupation in which your personality type plays a secondary role. For example, Electrical Engineers, which grew by 10 percent (14,380 workers), is coded IR, meaning that Realistic is its secondary personality type.

Finally, you may find more opportunity for your personality type by boosting your level of skill. Next week, I'll show why this can be a winning strategy.

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