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It’s not you, it’s them: What to do when you don’t fit the role

05 Jul 2017   Culture Fit

The importance of culture fit in your next job

If you don’t feel like you fit in, you probably don’t.

There’s so much talk about ‘culture fit’ today. It’s no longer enough to show up to an interview with the right skill set, relevant qualifications and experience; we’re now forced to contend with matching the culture fit of an organisation.


But what exactly is culture fit, anyway?

Culture fit is an incredibly vague term, open to different interpretations from each individual. It is difficult to define, and even harder to gauge when you’ve only had a couple of interviews and met one or two of your superiors before you potentially start your new job.

For some organisations, culture fit is a set of essential values and ideas. For others, it’s whether you’re someone the team want to have a beer with after work. So where does that leave people who don’t like beer? Or have after-work commitments like sport or kids?

Many people are excited to embark on their new roles within new organisations, only to realise after a couple of weeks that despite being able to do the job, they don’t quite ‘fit in’. The feeling of being an outsider starts to settle in and you wonder whether it’s affecting your performance and job satisfaction.

So, what should you do?

Let’s start by saying that workplace bullying, harassment or any sort of ongoing toxic behaviour is not okay. And if this is the situation you face, you should speak to your recruiter, HR manager or seek professional or legal advice immediately. However, when we talk about not being the right culture fit, this is something entirely different.


Does fitting in really matter?

Put simply, do you really care if you don’t eat lunch with your colleagues or head out for Friday night drinks each week? Instead, ask yourself: Are your ideas heard? Do you feel valued and respected within the organisation? Does the leadership group recognise and appreciate your contribution to the business?

If you can answer yes to those questions, maybe you shouldn’t be too concerned whether the social, or cultural, side of your work is as fulfilling as you’d hoped. Maybe it’s a case of giving it a bit of time to gradually get to know your colleagues individually rather than judging them as a group. Again, as long as the environment you’re in isn’t toxic, the issue of culture fit doesn’t need to have a negative impact on your working week.

Just like the schoolyard, you will inevitably gravitate towards the people you gel with best and hopefully forge great long-term bonds. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or somewhere in between, you shouldn’t feel the need to conform to the group behaviour. Just be yourself. If you realise after quite some time that your colleagues and peers are crucial to your happiness; you should definitely go ahead and start your job search elsewhere.

In an ideal world, you’ll start a new job and fit right in with your colleagues, peers and management. But when things don’t go perfectly to plan, you need to evaluate how important culture fit is to your career progression, happiness and overall job satisfaction. If your job role and responsibilities tick all the other boxes, perhaps it’s best to grin and bear it for the time being before jumping ship too quickly.


It’s not you, it’s them

We all want to be judged on our contribution to the business we work for, and hope to build meaningful relationships with our peers and co-workers. However, if you’re being overlooked for projects and promotions and you feel this is because of a direct correlation to not fitting in with your peers, perhaps it’s time to make a change. Speak to your recruiter about passively looking for an alternative role elsewhere.

Life’s too short to be unhappy at work. Go with your gut and make sure you keep culture fit front of mind when interviewing for your next role. Good luck!