Finding the Right Job When You Don’t Know Where You Fit

Most of us have done it. We’ve been in the spot where we have needed a job, where we’ve combed through LinkedIn or a job board and applied for position after position, writing cover letters that are as diverse as they are wordy. Some jobs sound amazing and we almost don’t want to get our hopes up for them. Other jobs have a great job title with a description that sounds terrible. Still other jobs just sound awful on all counts. And we’ve applied for all of them. Because we needed a job.

There’s no doubt that it’s a frustrating place to be: When you can’t tell if you should just go for anything that will pay the bills; when you feel like if you held out for your ideal job, you’d stay unemployed forever.

So what do you do? How do you go through the job search process and find what kinds of jobs you should go for? How do you eliminate the really terrible options and still not hold out for the “All-Inclusive Resort Tester” job?

We have a few tips.

  1. Find the Culture You Want:

As obvious as this might sound, it’s not something to dismiss. You can’t always know what you should be doing or where you’re a good fit. You should be finding a handful of companies in your area that have a culture you like. Maybe they have flexible Friday hours or maybe they have a more casual environment. Maybe they allow all of their employees to volunteer 1 day a year or support a local charity. Some people have a dream of working for a certain company because of these types of culture pieces. They will look every day on jobs boards to see if their dream place has opened up a chair for them to sit in. But that’s not how most people are. Most will go where the money is (or where the job is, or the title is, etc.). They’ll decide where they want to work when they’re combing the pages of LinkedIn and praying for something that fits them. But consider setting your sites on some corporate cultures and seeing what you find.

  1. Find What Matters the Most:

Try this one: Take a look through one of those brutally long job descriptions and see if you can study it enough to get into the detail. Start combing through it and finding a handful of responsibilities that fit you like a glove. Maybe the job description says, “Must work well with all levels of enterprise personnel.” If you’re someone who can interact with just about anybody, whether CEO or the security gate guy, this could be a great job description for you, even if the job itself seems like it wouldn’t fit. The point is this: A job’s details may throw you off and make you wonder if you’re qualified for the job or if it’d be a fit. But if you can find a few different pieces to the job that you could execute well, consider applying. Consider writing a cover letter that addresses those and see if you can start looking at these endless lists of responsibilities with a little bit more personal perspective.

  1. Find a Job Mentor:

It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth it. And it’s not as official as it sounds. You should start investing your time and energy into professional development, and specifically in the kind of relationship with someone older and wiser who can show you where you fit and where you don’t. As you consider where you belong professionally, and what kind of organization could best suit you, you’ll benefit from the eyes and ears of someone else. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that you pay (but if you don’t pay them, make sure that you cover breakfast or whatever they want at the coffee shop…maybe even get them a souvenir mug). It should also be someone that you get together with at least once a month for a few months. And make sure you bring a notebook when you meet. And then, make sure you send them a thank you card.


The choices for jobs seem to be endless. “Everyone’s hiring!” they’ll tell you as you’re applying for job after job. What they don’t tell you is that most of them are hiring somebody other than you. So because of that, you’ve got to take some necessary steps to make the process a little less painful. You’ve got to try new things and have different conversations. Find the place that has the culture that you want to be part of, find the diamonds in the rough of a job description, and find the person that can help you find your way.

One step at a time…you’ll make it!

Stay connected. There are more good conversations and tips for good job-hunting to come.

Family Innovations is the leading counseling service of the Upper Midwest, and prides itself on employing some of the most capable, passionate counselors, therapists, and support staff in the industry. If you or someone you know could be a fit for Family Innovations, check in at work4FI.com #work4fi