Does Job Fit Matter?

The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), Office of Policy and Evaluation recently issued a report on the importance of job fit in employment. While the study was focused on federal employment, the findings are applicable to the private sector as well.

What is job fit? Basically job fit is the way people describe how well they are aligned with various aspects of their work lives including the organization itself, colleagues, supervisors, and the job. Similarly, savvy job seekers try to consider the same factors when determining whether to accept a particular job. The research identifies 3 basic components of job fit according to the MSPB:

Demand-Abilities fit
The fit between the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the individual with the demands and requirements of the job

Needs-Supplies Fit
The degree to which a job fulfills an individual’s daily material and psychological needs.

Self-Concept Fit
The degree to which a job’s task or purpose aligns with an individual’s beliefs about who they are or who they want to be.

According to the study, federal employees rated their Fit Component on an average 55% on Needs- Supplies Fit to 68% Demand Abilities Fit.

Why does any of this matter? The higher you are on each of the 3 fit components, the happier, more engaged you are as an employee. And, from an organizational perspective, more fit means better job performance, less likelihood of turnover, and improved organizational performance.

If you are an employee and are not happy with your current job, fit may be the problem. If you are looking for a position, and have not focused on job fit, you should. In the private sector, many companies try to evaluate fit with various assessments (DiSC, Myers Briggs, etc.); in the federal government identifying fit is harder for hiring officials but is possible with the use of valid assessments, skillful interview questions, and being honest about the organizational culture.

As an applicant, do your due diligence; review the job posting carefully ask to see the job description; assess your interactions with the potential employer in terms of timeliness, responsiveness, etc.; use your network to learn as much as you can about individual organizations and supervisors (but verify information too—don’t just use one source); and, in the end, if your gut is telling you “no,” listen to it.

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Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.