I began using the term “right fit” job about 6 years ago, referring to work that fits you well. Work that uses your skills, talents, gifts, abilities. That demands your best effort. That feels rewarding and satisfying. Work that makes mornings great, where you wake up and say “oh good! I get to go to work today!” Work where you are appreciated, and you get to be yourself. Work with values congruent with yours.
The Shoe Analogy
When I was a teenager, I sometimes bought shoes that were too small for me. All my friends did. We had this idea that there was an optimal size for us to wear and it was smaller than our feet. I was a 7 1/2 then and thought 7 was quite big enough. Of course, my feet got blisters and bled. I was in pain a lot of the time. We would joke about “breaking our feet in” instead of breaking the shoes in.
As I got older, I realized that there was nothing wrong with my feet. All I had to do was buy the right size shoe. I discarded the idea that I should fit the shoe, in favor of the much more sensible idea that the shoe should fit me. I needed my “right fit” shoe, as it were.
I know I sound like I was crazy, and of course I was, if only because I was a teenager. Luckily I grew up and my feet are in good shape – no lasting damage.
Yet how many people get an idea in their heads about the job they want to get and then do all they can to fit themselves into the job? That’s kind of insane, too.
A “right fit” job is more like the shoe that fits the foot. It’s the job that fits you, rather than you having to fit yourself into the job. From what I see, people who fit themselves into the job wind up unhappy at work.
The Square Peg in the Round Hole?
Picture a round hole. Now picture fitting a square peg into that round hole. There are two ways it can be done: by shaving off the corners of the square peg, or shrinking the square peg so it fits.
With option 1, there’s going to be pain. The essential part of what makes the square peg square is being cut out, eliminated, discarded. It’s no longer a square peg.
With option 2, there are gaps where the square peg doesn’t touch the round hole. It only touches at the tips of the 4 corners.
In both cases, this is not the “right fit.” If you think of yourself as the square peg, you will either be denying an essential part of yourself at work, or you’ll be overwhelmed in a position you can’t really handle.
Instead of targeting round holes, why not find a square hole to fit into?
That’s the idea about your “right fit” job. Find out what makes you happy at work – the role you have, skills you use, impact you have, culture in which you thrive, environment that supports your best work, compensation that feels rewarding. Then target jobs that fit you.
I always say that job search is hard enough, so why not improve your chances by being specific about what you want. Specificity makes you more likely to find what you are looking for. It makes it easier for people to help you network and for them to send relevant job postings to you. And it is more likely you will get interviews for jobs that are a potential “right fit” because you meet all or most of the required and “preferred” qualifications.
Give it a go. My eBook is a guide to outlining the contours of your “puzzle piece.”
And you might like listening to this TED talk about “flow” – the secret to happiness – and a key indicator that you’re in a “right fit” job.