A job that does not fit you is like a pair of pants or shoes that do not fit. It does not feel right. You won’t want to go to an ill-fitting job on Monday morning, just as you won’t want to put on ill-fitting clothes.
Even worse, many of us have experienced at least one ill-fitting job, or “job from Hell” during our careers. We don’t want another job like it.
Of course, we need to earn a living so it’s not unusual to spend time in jobs and careers that don’t fit well. There are, however, some concepts career management coaches such as Susan Britton Whitcomb, discuss in Job Search Magic and Interview Magic that can help us decide whether a job or career matches our skills, interests, and personality. The concepts to think about are:
- Job function, including your title, your competencies, and the job you want to do,
- Industry, or the kind of place where you do, or want to do your job,
- Things that matter, including your priorities in terms of salary, working conditions, location, ability to work remotely, etc.,
- Fulfillment, or why you work,
- Identity, or who you are and who you want to be, and
- Type, or your personality type.
Career coaches sometimes refer to Function, Industry, and Things that Matter as your “external fit” with a job or career. These three concepts are paramount to us when we construct a resume and prepare for interviews because they provide us with essential information.
The fulfillment you get from a job, how it impacts your identity, and the job or career’s match with your personality type may be referred to as your internal fit. We can collaborate on a resume and profile that matches you to a job function, industry, and aspects of the job that matter to you. You could be miserable at the job you land if you don’t feel fulfilled, it does not match your identity, or does not match your personality.
Here, we will focus on your external career fit because that is most important for preparing a resume and helping you prepare for interviews. Then we’ll discuss the internal fit briefly to help you think about setting a career direction for success.
External fit is key for career communications.
It is difficult to create successful career communications strategies without a job target. A job target includes a job function, the industry in which you perform the function, and things that matter to you about your work—what geographic area you work in, and whether you work full-time, part-time, freelance, remote, etc., among other things.
Function: One of the first questions I ask a prospective client is “what is your job function?” Once you have established your job function, your job search strategy documents—resume, LinkedIn profile, and job search letters—should demonstrate how your strengths, talents, passion, and personality qualify you to fill the job. A resume writer will ask you to specifically list technical competencies related to your job function and document accomplishments that demonstrate your people and leadership skills.
Industry: The industry or employment sector you specialize in will also differentiate you from other candidates in your career communications. For example, if you work in the real estate industry as an accountant you will want to say in your resume and LinkedIn headline that you are a real estate accountant. Similarly, if you are a nurse that works at acute care hospitals this should be in your headlines to differentiate yourself from nurses that work in nursing homes or schools.
Last, but not least, your job search will be more focused when you specify both your job function and industry. Experience has shown again and again that job seekers who know what they want, and those that demonstrate that they are qualified get jobs faster.
Things that Matter: Things that matter to you are less relevant to your resume because it reflects what is important to you while your career marketing has to address your prospective employer’s needs. Nonetheless, things that matter to you will affect the tone of your resume. For example, if you value flexibility and remote work, you might decide to indicate that your recent positions were flexible, remote assignments. On the other hand, if you are seeking a full-time traditional office role, we may decide to de-emphasize the remote and flexible aspect of your previous assignments. After all, the important thing to your next boss is that you accomplished goals in the previous assignments.
Look at our resume examples to see how we have demonstrated the match between candidates and jobs.
Internal job and career fit is what makes you happy at work.
The extent to which you find fulfillment in your role, identify with your work, and the job also matches your personality could be crucial to your career success. Your career communications materials, though, will usually focus on external rather than internal factors. These are marketing documents that highlight how you meet the needs of your customer—your prospective employer—rather than how the employer will meet your needs.
Fulfillment: Coaches relate fulfillment to questions such as why do you work, and what makes work rewarding for you? It was traditional at one time to open a resume with an objective such as “a rewarding job that fulfills my need to help others.” Although we do not prepare resumes like that anymore, we want to keep goals such as this in mind if that is what we want. For example, when I collaborated with a social worker that served homeless individuals and families to create a resume, we wanted accomplishments to stand out that reflected her passion for the work, and not just her ability to comply with government rules for operating her program.
Identity: Your identity, from a career point of view, can be thought of as an adjective you use to describe yourself. For example, are you an entrepreneurial engineer or a “closer” as a sales person?
We avoid excessive use of adjectives in resumes, and let the facts speak for themselves. For example, we have demonstrated that clients in sales roles are closers by highlighting accomplishments such as exceeding quota at every assignment or increasing average order size (AOS).
Type: Career professionals refer to personality type as measured through a variety of assessment tools. If you have taken a personality or interest inventory such as DISC, MBTI, or SDS it could be appropriate to briefly include those results on your resume. Those results will bolster your case if, for example, they show you have an entrepreneurial personality, and you are seeking work in entrepreneurial organizations.
Our bottom line is that, for you to be successful, you should match yourself to the job, and then explore whether or not the job or career matches your personality, knowledge, skills, and interests. If the job fits, put your business outfit on and go to work!