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Career Fit: What You Need to Know


Companies look for ‘Culture Fit,’ while job seekers look for ‘Career Fit.’ Whether you’re looking for your next role or you’re coaching someone who is, it’s important to note that Career Fit is both created and discovered.

How is Career Fit formed? By defining what you want, identifying what you need, and preparing yourself to do what it takes to get you from ‘here’ to ‘there.’

Defining What You Want

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It isn’t success (or even your dream job) if you hate what you do. Do you know what you want? If you’re not even sure where to begin, I recommend something as simple as defining the essential must haves for your  dream job which I summarize as:

1.      People who you want to work with. While the #1 reason why people leave a job is because of their boss, you know other team members can rank high on a list of reasons people leave. You can get a sense for if you’ll be valued as a person and as a contributor by looking at the benefits package, gauging how a company represents their culture, and listening to how the Hiring Manager refers to your potential co-workers.

2.      Products or Services you build or contribute to must align with your values or interests in order to keep you engaged and motivated when times get tough.

3.      Purpose of the company and how it operates must also resonate with you otherwise you won’t see the point in investing your best effort for the short or long term.

4.      Potential for growth that lines up with how you envision yourself evolving. If it costs $4,000 for employers to onboard a new hire, employers will be looking at whether you can do the job. Consider how much it costs you in time and energy to apply, interview, and take on a new role as you evaluate how you will be supported and encouraged to develop professionally. Does what they offer suit your long term goals?

Another way I recommend figuring out what you want, is by completing a more in-depth assessment test that will provide you with a deeper understanding of strengths or the way that you’d like to work so you can evaluate your opportunities according to the results.

Identifying What You Need

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What you need is likely different then what you want in your career. What you need may be recognition, money, or even challenge or structure. These are the things that keep you from being frustrated or bored on the job or that can help keep you focused. What you want may be to have your core values aligned with the company, or a base salary while you build your book of business. What you need may be to get the experience you working with a team or leading a team so that you can qualify for higher job titles.

Knowing what you need to accomplish in a new role, it makes it easier to stick with a company because you know the experience is helping to progress your career. Take a moment and list everything you can think of that you will need, and then go back and consider the career moves you’ve already made. Rank each item you’ve listed on a scale of 1 (not an issue) to 10 (deal-breaker) and you will soon see trends in what tops your list of Must-Have Career Criteria.

Preparing Yourself

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Preparing yourself is the last step in creating Career Fit. Once you know what you want and what you need, you can set (or reset) your expectations. For example, if you find you need a four-year degree in order to earn an interview with your target company, you have a choice to make: get the degree or change your target. If you need experience, then create it by taking on related roles or by volunteering and freelancing for projects that will both showcase the hard core skills employers want to see, and the soft skills that will demonstrate you can be a contributing member of a team or a consultant that helps clients reach the solutions they need to achieve.

Be Open

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Discovering your Career Fit begins with you being open to the possibility and ends with you surrounding yourself with insightful, helpful people. Being open to the possibility means noticing what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing and/or why, and then taking on tasks that involve those elements. In some cases, it includes being open to take risks like relocating or working for a startup.

Read the final tip here.

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