7 Very Telling Signs Your Job Is a Poor Fit

How to avoid a long-term ‘soul sucking’ experience.

At some point in our work lives, many of us will find ourselves in the wrong job. (I hear of this quite often.) Specific fault can be difficult, and likely futile to assign. However, one day you may look around to find that your work life is dangerously out of sync. Nothing is 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 (in very short shrift), and acting to make changes. Poor matches do happen. Jobs morph. Great bosses move on. We grow and change. Any of these could serve as a contributing accelerant.

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

Here are a few signs worth notice:

You feel lost. Have you experienced the classic nightmare where you arrive at class on exam day, only to realize that you’ve not purchased the textbook? This certainly should not be your work life experience during waking hours. If tasks or projects leave you feeling unprepared, take note: Something is off.

Your strengths aren’t being tapped. Ultimately 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 about this soon as possible.

Challenge is absent. Certainly, work is about task completion. It is our responsibility to make that happen on a daily basis. However, if opportunities to enhance your skill set are completely absent, this can be a key problem. If you feel as if you are "standing still" skill-wise, it's time to broach the topic with your boss. Remember—“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? Whether you work in customer service, sales or consulting—if you do not identify with the vision of the organization, the person-job match may be off. If you see yourself as an island (and everyone is speaking an entirely different “language”), it may be time to explore a change.

You can’t seem to complete anything. Does every project seem pointless and your motivation is 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. Be honest—the process of going to work is excruciating. If you had your druthers, you would 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 role, 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). However, guaranteed, there were plenty of other factors in play. The bottom line is this: It’s time to act. Blame doesn’t help things resolve—only a plan to move forward will.

Over the years, I've heard these issues expressed many times. They are clear indicators that something needs to change. It's critical to address the issues with your supervisor, trusted mentor or career professional. Remember, fit is imperative to remain engaged long-term.

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

Marla Gottschalk is an industrial/organizational psychologist. She is the director of Thought Leadership at Kilberry Leadership Advisors, Toronto.

(Image via eelnosiva/

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