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Role Fit Vs Culture Fit: What’s More Important When Looking For A Job

Shireen Jaffer

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role and culture fit

If you want to find the best-fit opportunity, you have to determine what you need out of a job and an organization.


There’s plenty of advice out there on what to look for in a job, but it all boils down to two aspects: the culture fit and the role fit.

  • Role fit is about having what it takes to do a job long-term. Regardless of the environment or the management style, do you have the skills and abilities to handle the position? 
  • Culture fit is about the organization and the work environment. Do you feel supported? Can you see yourself growing at the company? Do you have what you need to succeed? 

Both culture and role fit are equally important, but most people tend to place an emphasis on one or the other when they start looking for jobs.

Some just want to work for a great company regardless of the role. But six months in at an amazing organization, they’re struggling with their actual job because they didn’t stop to consider whether they were a good fit for the role. 

You can also find plenty of people who do just the opposite. Not long ago, I was working with a candidate who’d taken a position because he was confident he could crush it in the role. Unfortunately, the company’s work environment didn’t fit his working style and ended up being a nightmare for him. He came to our team for help, and we found him a similar role with a much better cultural fit. He loves his new job and recently had the highest-performing month of his entire sales career. 

The truth is, it’s very rare for someone to thrive in a position if either the organization or the role itself isn’t the best fit. And while it can be difficult to find a job that’s a good balance between the two, especially right out of college, it can be done. 

You just have to approach the job search with a certain mindset.

First, figure out your basic needs.

If you want to find the best-fit opportunity, you have to determine what you need out of a job and an organization. For example, you may require a collaborative environment rather than a “lone wolf” culture.

Even if you don’t have a ton of work experience, you can still sit down and self-reflect to identify your core, non-negotiable needs. Think about the class projects, part-time jobs, or internships you’ve enjoyed. Did you have professors you appreciated? What about them made those relationships so worthwhile? 

On the other hand, you should also consider what you haven’t liked doing. What are your pet peeves? Which jobs or group projects were a nightmare for you, and why? What types of environments have you done well in, and which ones have you struggled in?

Write down your non-negotiables, and stick to them. Your job may not be ideal in every way, but you shouldn’t compromise on what you need to be successful.

Once you know your basic requirements, you can figure out if the job is a role and culture fit.

There are three simple guidelines for figuring out whether a job will be the right fit for you. 

1. Research the role you want.

Use LinkedIn to search for people who are currently in the role you’re considering. Reach out to them to say, “Hey, I’m exploring opportunities and wanted to learn more about your experience as a sales development rep at Company Z. I’m wondering if you’re open to having a 15-minute phone call to share some advice.”

Most people love to talk about themselves and give advice. If you’re genuine and respectful of other’s time, you can find out a lot about a role by reaching out to those who’re already doing it. 

2. Talk with people at the company you’re interested in.

You can use the same technique to check for organizational fit, as well. Get on the phone with someone at the company you want to work for, and ask them about their managers, the organization, the culture. Learn how they got to their position, what their manager’s style is like, and how the company has enabled them to grow.

Just keep in mind, this shouldn’t come off as an attempt to get a job right then and there. You’re exploring a new career path and looking for insights to help you in the process.

3. Don’t forget about the product fit.

Depending on the role you want, you should also research the product you’ll be working with if you get the job. Certain positions, like sales or marketing, have to constantly advocate for the product and sell it. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you’re completely apathetic about the product—or worse, feel uncomfortable selling it.

After finding your fit, enjoy the long-term career benefits.

Everything changes when you find a job that’s a great role and culture fit. 

Your confidence, productivity, career development all skyrocket when you’ve found a position that matches your needs. You’ll be happier, which means you’ll be more engaged at work. And when you’re feeling great and doing your best work, that’s typically when your professional life begins to take off. You have more control over your next career move and your potential income increases.

Finding the right role in an ideal organization can take a lot of work, but it’s well worth the energy—and will ultimately lead to long-term job satisfaction and a promising career.

Here are a few other related articles you might find helpful:

3 Ways To Stay Competitive In Today’s Workforce

After Getting 1.4 Million Views On LinkedIn, This College Grad Is Still Looking For A Job. Here’s Why The Job Hunt Is Such A Struggle

Why More Than Half Of Your Friends Will Wind Up In Jobs They Don’t Want After College

I am the co-founder and CEO of Edvo—a job search platform making it easy for candidates to identify careers on the upswing, learn how close they are to being the ideal hire, develop the skills highest in demand, and get the support they need to land the best job. Our team is on a mission to get 1 million people jobs by giving them control over their search. I am also a TEDx Speaker, an angel investor, a mentor-advisor at Rewriting the Code, and the founder of Skillify.

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