"The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People," by Carol Eikleberry, PhD

Pros: Fascinating guide to using your Holland code to find a career that’s right for you
Cons: Can’t easily take into account special circumstances
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book courtesy of Ten Speed Press

Creative and unconventional careers interest me quite a bit, as I constantly find myself in the middle of them. After all, these days I mostly spend my time designing t-shirts, reviewing books, and so forth. And to be honest, I’ve always felt a little lost whenever someone asked me what it was I did for a living. Once upon a time I would have said I was a writer, but I’m not sure that’s really the right answer any more. Thus, when I heard about the arrival of the third edition of “The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People,” by Carol Eikleberry, PhD, I knew I had to check it out. I had to know if it had any insight that might truly help all of us restless creatives.

The Holland Codes

Dr. Eikleberry’s research is based on the Holland Codes, three-letter codes designed to describe your work interests. You take an extensive interest test (most versions cost money, but the book does provide a URL to a site that has a downloadable free test that works on Windows–it isn’t the best software I’ve seen, but it’s free and it works, so it’s hard to complain!) and get a three-letter code that describes, in order from most applicable to least, the three areas out of six that you have the most interest in. The idea is that there are six basic personality types when it comes to work, but that all of us possess some mixture of those types, and it’s most useful to look at those three that best describe each of us. The six types are artistic, social, investigative, realistic, conventional, and enterprising.

This much you could, of course, get from any material based on the Holland codes. What makes Dr. Eikleberry’s work so useful to us creatives is its focus on using these codes, as well as other suggestions and anecdotes, specifically to help those with an artistic bent.

Other Considerations

The author does a wonderful job of addressing the fact that our interests aren’t the only considerations we have when looking for a job. For instance, many people aren’t happy unless they can work with people who have similar values to theirs, even if it means working at a job that doesn’t perfectly suit them. Most people also need to take salary into account, since they have to make a living at what they do, and many artistic occupations don’t pay much.

The only thing that I personally found lacking, and to be honest, I’m not sure there’s really any way it could have been addressed, is other limitations people might have when looking at jobs–physical and mental handicaps, financial resource limitations, etc. Unfortunately though, I think those are things you’d have to address individually with a career counselor, and that you can’t look to find answers to in a book like this, which is why you won’t see me docking the score I’m giving this book.

There’s information on creative career choices that might support you fully; taking “normal” jobs as day jobs and working on your art in your own time; and composing your own career. The author uses inspiring anecdotes from people who’ve created whole new careers for themselves to show us that we can do what we’re interested in, even if there doesn’t seem to be a place for it right now.

Psychology and the Layman

There’s enough psychology in here to fascinate a psychology buff like myself, but it’s kept simple enough to be accessible to any creative person looking for help with career choices. There are plenty of tips to help you through the process of trying on careers and finding the right one, from methods like keeping a career notebook to simple things like setting goals for yourself and identifying those work-related values that are most important to you. There’s even a list of 270 occupations for creative and unconventional people at the end, complete with Holland codes, and some of them should surprise you. I found myself thinking of some of my husband’s career choices lately and the things he’s learned about what he needs to be happy in a job, and I think having this book on hand during all of that would have made the process easier and faster–many of the insights here resonated with things he gradually came to find on his own.

This is a wonderful, focused, goal-directed book that should be able to help nearly any confused creative person find a better direction in life. It doesn’t promise to find your dream job in five minutes, but then if it did, it would be lying–its purpose is to help you gradually find a rewarding and satisfying career.

Visit creativecareers.com–the author’s website.

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