What Is Job Fit and Why Does It Matter?

What Is Job Fit and Why Does It Matter

A breakdown of job fit, its implications, and how to obtain it.
Steve Jobs was the ultimate proponent of job fit.

He’s quoted as saying, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

If today were the last day of your life, would you do what you are about to do today?
What Is Job Fit and Why Does It Matter?

While you might not have the same amount of clout or discretion as the late Steve Jobs, the underlying message is clear. You should regularly take stock of your job and ask yourself—is this really what I want?

Over the last six months, organizations have made all sorts of changes, ranging from compensation reductions, work-from-home policies, and strategic reinventions. These organization-level adjustments will undoubtedly trickle down to your day-to-day lives at work and at home. The time is right for a job fit reevaluation.

An important first step, however, is acknowledging that work is a multi-faceted creature. To decide the proper next steps, you need a nuanced assessment of your situation. It’s only then that you can properly plan out the next steps.

Along these lines, outlined below are considerations and recommendations for the most popular dimensions of job-related fit.

But first, consider taking this 12-question job fit assessment to see how you compare to your peers.
This free, validated assessment aligns with the dimensions described below.

1. Person-Job, Demand-Ability Fit

Demand-ability job fit entails the extent to which your knowledge, skills, and abilities align with the demands of your day-to-day work tasks. Interestingly, the demand-ability fit is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, when you have a demand-ability fit, you are likely to be a high performer. On the other hand, the demand-ability fit might signal that it’s time to seek out new experiences that help you grow and develop.

It’s possible to create a productive form of misfit, such that your demands are slightly greater than your abilities. Take caution, however, because if you are significantly underqualified, your next step should be to work with your supervisor to redefine your role.

Another scenario—when you are stuck in a job where your abilities are significantly greater than your demands—is likely to lead to boredom. Try finding mentors in new departments with different skillsets and start attaching yourself to new initiatives that you find interesting.

Regardless of where you find yourself along the demand-ability fit spectrum, it’s up to you to proactively craft your work tasks and relationships to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success.

Read 10 Major Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful People

2. Person-Job, Need-Supply Fit

As human beings, we have three innate psychological needs, including the need to be in control, the need to be competent, and the need to relate to and connect with others. Need-supply fit entails the extent to which your job satisfies these three needs.

Although these needs are considered universal, people differ on exactly how much they want.

While some individuals prefer extreme levels of autonomy, others prefer a bit more structure. While some individuals prefer constantly learning and trying out new things, others want to feel confident in doing what they do best. While some individuals enjoy seeking out a wide range of supportive peers, others confide in a few, select individuals.

Read 70+ Best Attitude Quotes That Will Change Your Attitude Towards Life

It’s important to know where you fall along this continuum and ensure that you seek out the amount that you prefer. When individuals are undersupplied, they typically feel unfulfilled and less satisfied. When individuals are oversupplied, they typically become emotionally exhausted and disengaged.

Similar to demand-ability fit, you likely have some capacity to proactively manipulate your work surroundings. Pay attention to whether you have a need-supply fit and then work towards establishing new boundaries or creating new opportunities.

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Scott Dust

Scott Dust, Ph.D., is the Dr. John F. Mee Endowed Assistant Professor of Management at the Farmer School of Business, Miami University (Oxford, OH) and the Chief Research Officer at Cloverleaf, a technology company whose goal is to create amazing teams. His teaching, writing, and consulting focus on evidence-based perspectives for leading oneself (i.e., self-leadership) and others. His research on leadership, leader-follower relationships, power, and influence has appeared in several journals, including the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Leadership Quarterly, and Human Relations, and he is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Group and Organization Management. Scott is also the creator of an email newsletter titled Resources for Human Capital Enthusiasts, which focuses on providing evidence-based insights and timely perspectives on trends in human capital management.View Author posts