As a rule, people who are serious about their careers put a lot of time, energy, and education into achieving their dream job. Yet I find in my career counseling DC practice that, in spite of all the forethought and preparation, lots of people hate what they do for a living.
While on the surface it seems quite puzzling, when I dig deeper I often find that the explanation for these career difficulties is career match or, more accurately, career mismatch.
A meaningful and engaging career hinges on the degree to which there is a good match between a person and what she or he does. The general idea is that the closer the career match, the better the outcomes. Bad matches lead to more negatives, like dissatisfaction, disengagement, boredom and burnout.
Mismatching comes in many forms. Here are some of the more common:
1 – Values Mismatch.
Many people come to recognize that their career feels all wrong, as if they are wearing clothes made for someone very different. One of the main reasons for this is that personal values are not being met in a career. For instance, if autonomy is a very important value to you, there’s a very good chance you’re going to be miserable in a situation with someone constantly looking over your shoulder,.
2 – Work Environment/Culture Mismatch.
This type of mismatch can either be subtle or so in your face you can’t avoid it. Largely, this has to do with how much you prefer to interact with your co-workers and in what capacity. An example of this mismatch is that a highly extroverted person is going to feel stifled and disconnected in a workplace that values quiet, independent work projects.
3 – Skills Mismatch.
This is a tricky one. Often people will describe being under or over qualified for a given job, but this feeling may be tied to one of the above types of mismatch. Most people are able to rise to the occasion or can figure out a way to contribute when they feel a part of something. When you don’t feel connected to what you do, you disengage and often place blame on a skills mismatch. To be sure, there are times when skill sets are very poorly matched, but it’s useful to first examine how other types of mismatch might be at play.
When helping people to improve their careers or to pick a more suitable one, I frequently focus first on these career match elements. I’ve found in my career counseling DC practice that these elements are key to finding and developing a meaningful and satisfying work life.
Until next time,
Dr. Brad Brenner