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Articles > Managing Your Career - Are you a good fit for the job?
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Managing Your Career - Are you a good fit for the job?

Why is it that the most technically qualified person seldom gets the job?

IT Careers and Training Newsletter   By Linda Leung, Network World, 07/05/06

By Linda Leung and James Del Monte, Network World and JDA Professional Services, Inc.

In a newsletter a couple of weeks ago , we discussed what hiring managers look for in an ideal candidate, and one consideration that was mentioned was cultural fit - would the candidate fit in well with the company and the rest of the team? James Del Monte, president of Houston staffing firm JDA Professional Services was one of the hiring execs who mentioned cultural fit in the newsletter, and he recently wrote in to expand on the theme.

He writes:

"Why is it that the most technically qualified person seldom gets the job? Does fit matter?

"There is no question that people hire people - not a set of skills. I have no doubt about this whatsoever, given my 25 years in the IT staffing business. The day of the techie who hangs out in the computer room is over, and most IT positions have a high degree of interaction with either the IT team and/or the business community. As a result, fitting in with the group has become more critical than who gets the offer, who accepts positions, and who stays. Fit, however, goes both ways and is very subjective. A poor organizational fit can result in frustration on both sides and increased turnover.

"What is fit? It's having commonalities and compatibilities with the people you will be spending a lot of time with, and it depends on the organization and the person. Some examples of areas of fit include personal and corporate values, looks, outside interests, age relativity, family orientation, educational background, competitiveness, work habits, and cultural background. In an ideal world, employers understand that these are in violation of EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] regulations and cannot consciously be used in the selection-making process. However, in the real world, all of the above are used.


"Consider the following scenarios:

"Scenario 1: Being from Houston where oil & gas is the main industry and the average age in most of the majors is late 40s, finding a younger worker who fits is challenging. What we have found is that after a year or two, the younger workers are not comfortable in the environment because it's like working with your parents.

"Scenario 2: We have a start-up software development client. This client hired a great technical developer because of his skills. The company's founders are very 'corporate,' meaning they are basically genteel and conservative - as is the rest of the staff. In contrast, our software developer is the 'brilliant, tattooed, pierced person who wears black' type of guy. Once the honeymoon was over, the cultural misfit became apparent on both sides.

"Several lessons can be learned from all this. Turnover is frustrating and costly for both parties. Employees, picking the right company and the right manager will make a huge difference in your peace of mind as well as in the daily enjoyment and overall success you have in your position. Employers, having the wrong cultural fit is never an optimal staffing solution, as it leads only to frustration and turnover in the long haul.
"Regardless of whether you are the employee or the employer, when you interview, look around. See the people there, look on their desks, look at what's on their walls, and don't be afraid to ask what they do outside of work. Making it personal will empower you to make the right decision."  

Thanks James for writing in. If you have any thoughts you'd like to add to this discussion, please write in.

*** There are a couple of good careers-related articles on NetworkWorld.com that I want to point you to. The first is an excellent opinion piece by Linda Musthaler, who says that the so-called skills shortage is baloney. Instead, "there is a shortage of flexible employers who are willing to hire people who don't match an exact, niche profile or have a very specific skill or type of experience," she writes in her article, which you can read here . You can also voice your opinion at our forum about this topic here . We've already received some very good responses.

Also, check out the recent IT Leadership newsletter , written by my Network World colleague Amy Schurr. She details Robert Half Technology's third-quarter hiring index and discusses the job skills that CIOs are looking to fill over the next three months. The index also lists the geographic areas where a high number of positions are waiting to be filled.


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