All too often, we make ourselves fit available options rather than making options fit us. It’s true of job-searching, partner-seeking, or life-building. I believe that we are better served when we flip that and make the options fit us.
I was struck by this thought after talking to a friend who is looking for a job. After I asked him what I could do to support him, he mentioned that he might reach out after he figured out how to get the work that fires him up fit into the right package for the job market. At that moment, I heard his voice shrink, contort, and be a little less him.
Something that can be challenging about being a coach is how hard it is to turn off the coach’s ear. He may not have meant it literally, but there was a shift in his voice and his energy nonetheless: I watched my vibrant, multi-spectrum friend go monochrome.
So, as we parted, I nudged: “instead of packaging yourself, be thinking about how you can unleash yourself.”
The difference between starting with what’s going to unleash you and figuring out how to fit into a hiring-friendly box is that, all too often, the box is the organizing principle, not what drives you. That driver gets left when you submit your application and maybe, just maybe, it comes up in the interview, but rarely does it get written into the job.
If you consider that the job you take is an audition for you to do your best work later, many of us fail the audition precisely because we weren’t operating from the baseline of what drives us.
Wherever possible, make the package fit you rather than making yourself fit the package. You’ll spend much less energy trying to get out of the box and more time exploring and building from what’s inside it.