When your job “fits” like your favorite worn-in pair of jeans, life is good. You love going to work (most days). You feel like what you do matters. You do great work. But just like a too-tight pair of leggings, when your job isn’t the right fit, it can be uncomfortable. It can be hard to do your best work, and even harder to get ahead. That’s why, whether you’re looking to move up in your current organization, or trying to find what’s next, paying attention to “fit” – in the role, the boss, the team and the company, is critical. More on why it matters and what to do about it in this video:


One of the biggest challenges for people in being successful in their careers is that they end up in roles that aren’t the right fit for them. This can happen for a variety of reasons. It may be that they took a job that wasn’t quite what they thought it would be. Or perhaps they were in a role that was a good fit but then something changed. Maybe they got a new boss that turned out to not be a good fit for them. Or the company changed directions. Or the team shifted its way of working. Whatever it is, whether someone misses the cues going into a job, or things changed once they get there, when someone is in a role isn’t a good fit can get pretty tough.

When you’re in a role where your boss isn’t a good fit for you, you can feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. When you’re in a role where the company isn’t feels a good fit, it can feel like you’re an alien on another planet. The culture just the right for you. It’s difficult to find people that you can connect with. It’s difficult to know how you fit in.

In those situations, it can be difficult to do your best work – to be the kind of manager or employee you want to. For some, the result is that they start to under-deliver. Others may continue to deliver at a high level, but at an extreme personal cost. Long hours. Difficulty juggling multiple priorities or keeping up with the work.

When you’re not performing at the level you want to, or getting recognized for your hard work, you can start to feel bad about yourself, taking it personally. It can dampen your sense of possibility.

Sometimes – heaven forbid – a lack of fit can ultimately result in being let go. That compounds the feelings that you’re not enough, or that you’re not good enough. You start to think, “Maybe if I had worked harder, maybe if I’d done this, or I had done that…” When you’re walking around with that heavy backpack full of “what-if’s” weighing you down, it can be really challenging to find your next role. The fear and worry take over. You anxiety that you’ll do poorly in your next job. You worry that your new boss won’t be any better than the last. You worry about what another stint of poor performance will do to your career.

With all of those thoughts swirling through your mind, it can be hard to put yourself out there to find your next position. We know that the best way to find the next role is through conversations, networking and building authentic relationships. Most jobs come from some kind of connection. However, when you’re weighed over by that backpack of worry, hunched down, and feeling bad about yourself, it’s hard to show up as the kind of person that people want hire or to introduce to their friends. That’s why the first and most important step in any job search is to clear out the lingering mind trash from what happened before.

That’s where the idea of fit can be so helpful. If you’ve been a conscientious employee in prior jobs, but have been underperforming or laid off from your most current role, chances are high that the job simply wasn’t a good fit for you. You didn’t lose your capability to perform. You didn’t suddenly become a slacker. There may be things you wish you had done differently, but that doesn’t make you any less worthy of success. It just means you’ll need to find it somewhere else.

A job that could be really great for one person might not be a fit for someone else. There’s no one way of working. There’s no one kind of boss. There’s no one kind of company or one kind of team. What matters to you is going to be different from what matters to somebody else. So it doesn’t matter that someone else got ahead, or that someone else worked well with that boss. That doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or you’re not capable. It just means that that situation wasn’t right for you.

Now, finding a good fit can take some real work. That’s where it can be very useful to have a coach with a strategy to guide you to your next role.

To find a role that’s a good fit, you need to be clear about what you want. What is the work you want to be doing? What are your professional goals? What is your work style? What do you most need from a potential boss to make the most of that style? What kind of team do you want to be part of? What kind of company? What are your values and how important is it to you that your company be aligned to those? These are all the kinds of questions to explore in order to understand what will be a good fit for you.

A qualified career coach will help you identify all of these things for yourself. More importantly they’ll be able to teach you how to find out this information about the roles you’re considering. One of the the biggest mistake people make in their careers is jumping into that next job to have a job, without doing their due diligence — really understanding what they need, what’s going to be effective for them. Then making sure that the role is going to be one where they can really shine.

This is exactly what I support my clients to do: Really understanding what they want, and where they want to go in their careers. Clearing out any the thoughts and worries that are weighing them down. Identifying what counts as a great fit for them. Then making that happen for themselves – whether that’s through finding a new role, or shaping the one they already have.

If you’re feeling like the role you’re in right now isn’t working for you, let’s talk. We’ll dig into exactly what’s going on, and I’ll help you map out a game plan to address it, to get your career back to a place where you can truly shine.


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