The Self-Directed Search Assessment

Choosing one’s future occupation is arguably the most significant decision a person must make in their life. Some people are confident about the path they will take while others require external help to decide which vocation will be the most suitable for them. One of those supporting means is Holland’s theory of career choice, which uses personality types, work environment, and additional constructs to determine where a person will be successful. This paper will attempt to provide feedback for the author’s Self-Directed Search (SDS) assessment and its usefulness for clarifying whether someone is on the right track regarding their career development. It will be done by offering two perspectives: a client applying the theory for the first time to their needs and a practitioner aware of its drawbacks and theoretical constructs.

A Client’s Perspective

The activity was engaging, and while I was more or less conscious of my professional inclinations, it managed to confirm them and emphasize the fields in which I almost completely lack interest. Although the combination that was identical to mine (AIS) indicated occupations I would not do, other arrangements of the three letters referred to the professions I consider a potential career. Thus, the SDS assessment seems generally accurate because it correctly predicted the three fields where I could succeed, as the suggested choices align with my interests, abilities, and daydreams. Meanwhile, the scores for the remaining letters were low (2 for R and 14 for both E and C). Another point that is worth noting is that the chosen activities did not always equal my abilities or the list of occupations, which served as a reminder that that decision should be made carefully. For instance, I can compensate for my insufficient competencies by attending a college, but something is impossible to acquire with additional learning. Overall, the SDS activity appears helpful not only for indicating one’s potential career but also for highlighting the spheres where self-improvement is needed.

A Practitioner’s Perspective

The SDS assessment is a proven method of identifying one’s inclination toward certain occupational fields, but it is not without flaws. Its advantages include the sheer scope of occupations and the combination of one’s personality and appropriate work environment, which may guarantee a successful career (Holland & Messer, 2013). The assessment’s results are also flexible: the identical combination is not absolute, and the investigation of other arrangements is encouraged (Holland, 1994). On the other hand, the SDS can lead to misguided career choices due to inconsistencies in the RIASEC codes, so the method should not be viewed as absolute (Furbish, 2016). Some might read the results too literally and adjust their aspirations towards the suggested professions even if they were not inclined toward them originally. To avoid being misled by the assessment, one should consider the available means and opportunities. Pursuing a result is not advisable if the tuition is too high, relocation is necessary, or the discrimination issue is prevalent. In developing countries, people sacrifice a good work environment to ensure stability (Van Wijk & Fourie, 2017). Unfortunately, it might be relevant for the US as well.

The client’s opinion on the activity appears positive, although they emphasize that the identical combination arrangement does not indicate their desired choices, unlike other alternatives. The mismatch can be explained by Holland’s secondary constructs, which demonstrate a person’s career choice readiness (Černja, Šverko, & Babarović, 2017). Congruence refers to the relationship between one’s personality and an environment, which should be close for high performance and job satisfaction (Stoll & Trautwein, 2017). Consistency reflects whether a person’s highest interests are intertwined, and the client demonstrated a considerable degree, as I, A, and S have much in common (Stoll & Trautwein, 2017). That construct is connected with differentiation, which is not strictly defined, as the highest values were close (25, 28, 24). It can lead to indecisiveness in choosing a particular occupation, as the range is expansive. However, the situation is beneficial for people skillful in several fields because they can consider other factors than one’s inclination and competencies. Lastly, coherence indicates whether occupational daydreams are consistent with the SDS’s results, which occurred in the client’s case (Dozier, Peterson, & Reardon, 2020). Thus, their consistency and coherence are high with low differentiation.

The previous analysis demonstrates that the client has a wide range of potential occupations and a history of inclination towards some of them, accompanied by mixed differentiation. Returning to congruency, it could indicate that the client will have high productivity and satisfaction rate performing the jobs from the identical combination. However, they are not interested in them and find occupations from other arrangements more agreeable. As the final scores are close in values, the person can still successfully work in those fields since congruency and the overall assessment are not absolute. Furthermore, other constructs offer more support for those occupations as valid choices. After all, if one does not have a passion for their job despite the latter being suitable, success and satisfaction may never come.

This paper attempted to analyze the SDS’s usefulness for helping a person shape their career development using the client’s and the practitioner’s perspective. The former indicated that the method is accurate for identifying fields of interest and potential occupations but not absolute. The other perspective emphasized that a careful approach should be taken while analyzing the results: one should consider their circumstances. Holland’s four constructs further highlight a person’s readiness for their potential occupation. They were helpful in proving that the client’s results mean a wide range of professions to choose from, and it should not necessarily be the exact match.


Černja, I., Šverko, I., & Babarović, T. (2018) Career maturity indicators in adolescence: Convergence of different measures. In V. Cohen-Scali, J. Rossier, & L. Nota (Eds.), New perspectives on career counseling and guidance in Europe. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Dozier, V. C., Peterson, G. W., & Reardon, R. C. (2020). Career decision state and assessment of RIASEC interest structure. The Career Development Quarterly, 68(2), 186–192. Web.

Furbish, D. S. (2016). A review of handbook for using the Self-Directed Search[R]: Integrating RIASEC and CIP theories in practice. Journal of Employment Counseling, 53(4), 187-190. Web.

Holland, J. L. (1994). Self-directed search assessment booklet: A guide to educational and career planning (Form R, 4th Canadian ed.). Lutz, FL: PAR.

Holland, J. L., & and Messer, M. A. (2013). Self-Directed Search: The occupations finder (Form R, 5th ed.). Lutz, FL: PAR.

Stoll, G., & Trautwein, U. (2017). Vocational interests as personality traits: Characteristics, development, and significance in educational and organizational environments. In J. Specht (Ed.), Personality development across the lifespan (pp. 401-417). Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.

Van Wijk, C., & Fourie, M. (2017) The appropriateness of using the Self-Directed Search Questionnaire in developing countries: A pilot study with South African Navy divers. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 5, 60-69. Web.

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