How to Decide If a Job Opportunity Is Right for You

When seeking a new position, it can be tempting to take a scattered approach, applying for any and all job postings you see that may even remotely match your skills and qualifications.

As job-seekers, we often spend so much time worrying about how to best present ourselves to organizations and how to ensure our résumés and application materials impress, that we may not stop to consider whether a specific opportunity is even worth pursuing in the first place. 

It’s a much smarter strategy, though, to focus on quality over quantity. Rather than just firing off your résumé en masse to every job posting, take some time to evaluate individual postings and decide whether each opportunity would even be a good match for you.

Why a good fit matters

Many job seekers underestimate the importance of this good fit — and may end up later regretting it. Not every job is right for every applicant, even those who meet the official requirements. A job that looks good on paper, and perhaps may have been identified as a match for you by an online job search tool, still may not necessarily be a perfect choice for you.

Many of us have had an experience where we excitedly accepted a new position that seemed promising, only to find ourselves miserable shortly after starting the job. It will be difficult to do well and perform at your best if you are in a role or working environment that doesn’t feel comfortable for you. There’s a strong correlation between job satisfaction and job performance.

Evaluate potential fit early

This is something you should consider early in the process of your job search, ideally before you even submit an application or send a résumé. Applying for a job that you will ultimately realize isn’t a good fit is only a waste of time and energy (both for you, and for any HR people who spend time evaluating your application). It’s a far better use of your time to focus your attention on opportunities that are a better match for you.

By contemplating whether a particular opportunity is a good fit prior to applying, you greatly increase the odds that you will perform well at an interview — and that you would then succeed at the job, if you do get hired.

The criteria for a good match

We each have our own specific criteria for evaluating a professional opportunity. But there are a few basic criteria you may want to use as a starting point:

  • Does this company and its mission align with my own personal values?
  • Will this position allow me to use my current skill set, while providing the opportunity for professional growth and advancement?
  • Is the company culture an environment where I could be happy and thrive?
  • Do the working arrangements fit my needs? If flexible location or scheduling is important to me, is that a possibility?
  • Does the position involve working solo much of the time, whereas I prefer to work as part of a team? (Or vice versa?)
  • Is this an established company that offers the likelihood of job security? Or, on the other hand, is this a start-up or new company that offers an innovative approach and fresh mindset, which I may feel is worth risking a bit of job security?

There are also a variety of resources online that can help you evaluate an organization’s culture

How our career counselors can help

If you haven’t given this topic much thought, you may not even have identified ways to evaluate a job opportunity. Our career counselors can help, by exploring the types of environments where you tend to be happy and flourish. They can also help you determine your priorities, as it is unlikely that any opportunity will check every single box on your wish list.

To set up an appointment with a career counselor, log into the Nittany Lion Careers portal.