7 signs your job is a poor fit

Engagement breeds success, of course, but what if you’re just an octagonal peg in an oblong hole?

At some point in our work lives, many of us will find ourselves in the wrong job.

Specific blame can be difficult—and probably futile—to assign. However, one day you may look around to find that your work life is dangerously out of sync.

Few things are more alarming than throwing yourself into your role and realizing things have taken an obvious turn. The important element here? Identifying the problem for what it really is and acting to make changes. Poor matches happen. Jobs morph. Great bosses move on. We grow and change. Any of these could serve as an accelerant.

So, make every attempt to let yourself off the hook and avoid a long-term “soul-sucking” experience. Poor fit is a common occurrence—and it is important to recognize its symptoms.

Here are a few signs:

  • You feel lost. Have you experienced the classic nightmare in which you arrive at class on exam day, only to realize that you never bought the textbook? This certainly should not be your real-life work experience. If tasks or projects have you feeling unprepared, take note: Something is off.
  • Your strengths aren’t being tapped. Our work should align with our strengths. However, if your weaknesses seem to have taken center stage, it’s unlikely you’ll stay energized for the long haul. Have a conversation with a manager about this as soon as possible.
  • Challenge is absent. Certainly, work is about task completion. It is our responsibility to make that happen daily. However, the absence of opportunities to enhance your skill set can be a problem. If you feel as if you are standing still skill-wise, it’s time to broach the topic with your boss. Withering on the vine is not a viable career strategy.
  • You feel disconnected. Does it feel as if the team is clearly on one page and you are on another? Regardless of whether you work in customer service, sales or consulting, if you do not identify with the vision of the organization, the person/job matchup may be off. If you see yourself as an island-or if everyone seems to be speaking a different language-it may be time to explore a change.
  • You can’t seem to complete anything. Does every project seem pointless? Is your motivation at a low? Are you dealing with looming deadlines with a blank screen continually staring back at you? Enough said.
  • You are in avoidance mode. Maybe going to work is excruciating. If you had your druthers, would you never set foot in the office again? If you’ve tried to make things work and simply cannot envision a future for yourself in your current position, you have a serious problem.
  • You are in blame mode. You certainly can own the part of the problem that you’ve controlled (you’ve ignored your “inner voice”, for example), but there surely must have been other factors. The bottom line is this: It’s time to act. Blame doesn’t help resolve things; only a plan to move forward will.

Over the years, I’ve heard these issues expressed many times. They are clear indicators that something has to change. It’s crucial to address the issues with your supervisor, trusted mentor or career professional. Remember, the proper fit is essential to remaining engaged for the long term.

Have you experienced any of these situations? How did you address them?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an industrial/organizational psychologist. She is the director of thought leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto. A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.


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