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This article examines career fit to improve retention, engagement and performance levels. Mentors and managers should audit, enrich and discuss the quality of career fit with team members. Employees are responsible to take stock of their own careers. Assess your career choices of industry, organization, profession and position and realign, enrich, or move to a place that will assure a great career fit. If you already have a great career fit, give thanks! If you don’t, help yourself to the smorgasbord of possibilities.
See news articles “What Makes Managers Remarkable? Building New Skills to Bridge the Present and the Future” and “Career Paths: Mapping Ladders and Lattices”.

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
is President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Bayer, Baylor Health Care, Brown Forman, CapitalOne, Northrop Grumman, Reebok, Sprint, Sandia National Labs and Sodexo. MasteryWorks, Inc. provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, e-Learning, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate fifteen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career development, “Who’s Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. She is a leading authority of strategic approaches which consistently deliver employee engagement and retention goals for her clients.

For more information, contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President or call us at (703)256-5712.

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5 Ways to Assure Your Career Fit -
Here’s How

by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.


Like a comfortable pair of shoes, a great career fits your unique universe. You feel at home and comfortable. Your values and passion fit with the orgainzation's culture and mission.Finding the Right Career Fit
I’ve had a lot of jobs in my career. One of my earliest was teaching piano to 70 elementary school kids through traditional one-on-one instruction. I became bored and most of my kids were turned off. My mentor, Dr. Robert Pace, introduced me to group piano teaching that included reading music, chording, music theory, improvising and playing by ear. I brought two pianos into my studio and taught 6-8 students at a time. They were engaged. I was challenged. I loved the experience. They thrived. I discovered a perfect fit for my musical teaching abilities. I became a better teacher and they turned into better musicians. I learned at a young age that I could redesign my job to fit me. I also learned how to convince my manager that the redesign would be a better fit for the students and the music teacher.

Like a comfortable pair of shoes, a great career fits your unique universe. You feel at home and comfortable. Your values and passion fit with the organization’s culture and mission. When you fit, performance is high and you’re fully engaged. See: “Work that Fits You: Maximize Your Performance”

How to Spot Misalignment
Managers and employees who know how to detect career “misfits” and make necessary adjustments build a productive and highly motivated workforce. How can you tell the difference? Look for the following indicators in yourself or your employees:

Good job “fit” produces: Poor job “fit” contributes to:
  • A sense of comfort
    and well-being
  • Increased productivity and performance
  • High energy levels, passion and pride
  • Potentially higher pay and advancement
  • High self-esteem and  accomplishment
  • Balanced work/life
  • Enhanced family relationships
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Self-directed learning
  • Fatigue and stress
  • Low engagement levels
  • Mediocre performance
  • Lack of empowerment
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Dysfunctional behavior at work or home
  • Loss of energy and reputation
  • Knowledge gaps

Take stock frequently and have career conversations to audit and understand why you fit well or not. Sometimes with a little tweaking, you can turn a misalignment into a great fit. You need to pinpoint which aspects of your job are well-aligned. Career fit must be co-authored and customized between the individual, the organization and the manager. See: “What Makes Managers Remarkable? Building New Skills to Bridge the Present and the Future” and “Career Paths: Mapping Ladders and Lattices”.

How Do You Pinpoint a “Misfit”?

Are you in the right type of work – field, job, organization, industry? Are you in a position where your personal aptitude meets your passion or are you just staying in a safe place? The CareerFit™ Model (shown below) gives you a way to assess your current work fit and prepare you for career conversations.

The CareerFit™ ModelThe elements on the inside of the model describe various aspects of your uniqueness while the elements on the outside designate the work choices you can or have made in your career. The more coherence between the inside and outside, the more successful you will be. Your energy will be cycled into your aspirations and passion rather than into “survival” in a “poor fit” job.

Pinpointing a “Misfit” YES NO
1. Value/Organization Fit - Values are those ideals a person cherishes that aid in their day-to-day choices – such as honesty, achievement, family, integrity, challenge, service, or security. Do your values fit the organization values?    
2. Interest/Job Fit -Interests fall into 4 categories: working with people, ideas, data, or things . Do you spend most of your time working in your key interest area?    
3. Personality/Job Fit -Your personality is hard to change. Examples include being: analytical, compassionate, decisive, funny, innovative, detail-oriented, or curious. Do your personality traits fit your job? Can you be yourself?    
4. Competency Fit - Competencies include clusters of skills needed to be outstanding in a variety of work settings. In the model, they are broken into profession-based skills, business skills, team skills, and leadership skills. Do your competencies fit your job and profession?    
5. Profession/Organization Fit - A profession is a distinct discipline or field of knowledge, requiring specific competencies – HR, IT, chemistry, logistics, etc. - Is your profession essential to the mission of your organization?    
6. Profession/Industry Fit - Industries are clusters of professionals working together to take care of one or more basic human needs – financial services, communications, energy, health, etc. Is your profession critical for the industry?    

If your answer is “no” to most of these questions, unfortunately, you’re not alone. About half the working world is searching to develop their careers, seeking a better career fit and thinking about searching for new career development paths according to a 2013 LinkedIn global survey.

What Can You Do?


Interest Misfit - Discuss and enrich your current job. Talk to your manager about doing more work in your area of interest. Pinpoint your major interest areas – People, Ideas, Data, or Things. Explore adding more activities you enjoy and where you excel. List your daily activities. Which fall into your favorite interests? Which do not? Discuss how you might add more of what you love and reduce areas of disinterest. Look for projects that could give you more opportunities to work in your areas of interest.

2. Competencies Misfit - Are there skills you need to learn to fit better? Or, do you have skills that you no longer enjoy using? Either can make you less successful. Talk with your manager about projects and experiences where you can build new skills. Discuss ways you might coach others in the skills you’re good at but no longer find interesting or challenging.

3. Profession Misfit -If you discover that your profession is no longer core to the mission and strategies of the organization, you might be at risk. Typically non-core professions get outsourced or sub-contracted. Look for another profession that relates to your core competencies but is core to the organization mission. Explore with your manager ways that you might make a lateral or downward move in the organization to gain experience and begin building your skills in another profession.

4. Personality Misfit - This is tough. If you’re analytical and the work is fast-paced and ever changing or if you’re creative and the job is repetitive, you’ll be unhappy. List your major personality traits and do an analysis of whether these traits fit your job. If they don’t, explore other job options or projects in your organization, finding a place that more closely fits your personality.

5. Values Misfit - If your values don’t “fit,” you will soon know it. You will feel stressed and burned out. Your performance and your reputation often suffer. You may feel out of sorts and lack a sense of purpose and meaning. You will burn up more emotional energy and effort to be successful when you don’t fit the culture. It may be time to look to another part of the organization, finding a place to give you a sense of meaning and pride.


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