The Shoe Doesn't Fit: What To Do When Your Job Is Not A Good Fit For You

Feb 06, 2018

Many companies hire for “fit” with their organizational culture. A key question that many hiring managers ask themselves, before deciding on a candidate, is whether that person will fit in the team or organization. There are some companies that use personality assessments to help them make these decisions. Research has found that personality fit is important and linked to performance and success. However, while companies are making decisions based on fit, very often the candidate is not.

People pick jobs and even careers for a wide variety of reasons: personal, family, financial, etc. Many times, they are unhappy because the role or even their career is the wrong fit for their personality – i.e. the shoe doesn’t quite fit. Unfortunately, just like a pair of pretty shoes, sometimes we force our foot in and then wonder why we have a blister after standing in them all day. The same concept applies to your role or career – if your role or career is not a good fit for your personality, you come home at the end of the day, drained and stressed out. 

It is important to find careers and jobs that fit with your personality, or at the very least, aspects of it. “Fit” is the extent to which your interests, abilities, and personality are aligned to those required by the role or organization. Research shows the match between your career and personality plays a significant role in your job satisfaction and success. 

If you are unhappy in your career, you should reflect on the following questions as it may be an issue of “fit”: 

  • Does my role optimize my knowledge, skills, and abilities?
  • Do I find my work interesting?
  • Does the company culture align with my personal values?
  • Do I enjoy working with my colleagues?
  • Do I enjoy working with my manager?
    • One of the biggest factors related to employee engagement is your relationship with your immediate manager. It may be the right role and company, but just the wrong immediate manager.
  • Is my role or career a good fit with my personality?
    • Do I know enough about myself and my personality to make that assessment or do I need to consider seeking insight from a valid assessment and qualified professional that can help me understand the results?

Although there are scientifically-valid tools available to help a person chose a profession based on personality fit – ex: Strong Interest Inventory® or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) – I have rarely seen them used outside of career counseling services. The most common use is often in college to help students make decisions on career choices before they enter the workforce. But these tools and decision-making around personality fit are not only relevant for students. They provide valuable insight into your preferences throughout your career. If you are looking to make a career change, these tools can be invaluable, as they provide an awareness of potential professions that are aligned with your natural preferences.

Many times, it is not as large of an issue as a career change, but more than the particular role or company culture is not the right fit for you. If your role or company is not a good fit for your personality, it is time to start exploring other options. 

  • If you have never taken a personality assessment to understand your preferences, or haven’t taken one in a long time, utilize a scientifically-valid assessment, i.e. the Strong Interest Inventory® or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), and have the results debriefed by a professional, who is qualified to interpret the findings and discuss career options with you.
  • Make a list of what you are looking for in a role and company. Also, make a list of the skills you have most enjoyed applying to past jobs, volunteer work, activities, etc. As you read the job description and discuss the position throughout the interview process, determine how well the role matches up with the list of skills you prefer using.
  • When looking at other roles or companies, make sure that you are interviewing them, just as they are interviewing you. Look at opinions on Glassdoor. A larger salary, shorter commute, and other perks may not be enough reason to accept a job offer if you recognize up front that it is not a good match to your personality.
  • Find out as much as you can about the organizational culture. Connect with people within your network who work at or have worked in the past at the company. They can give you great insight into the organizational culture. On-site interviews are also a great place to observe the culture. You can gain valuable insights about a company’s culture, just from the few moments while you are waiting at reception before an interview.

Remember, if you are unhappy with your role, company, or career, it may be because it is the wrong “fit” for your personality – the shoe doesn’t fit. It is hard enough to spend a day in a shoe that doesn’t fit, don’t spend your entire career in it.

If you enjoyed this post and want to learn more, check out NonstopWomen, dedicated to helping women manage their work and life while maintaining their sanity. Subscribe and get a free copy of my new book, “Career Catalyst: 9 Drivers of Career Success and Fulfillment”. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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