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In her latest guest blog, job landing consultant and executive resume writer Lisa Rangel writes that seeking an 'achievement fit' rather than a 'cultural fit' delivers benefits for both employers and job candidates.

The term “cultural fit” has become controversial in hiring circles and raised questions about whether the concept breeds unconscious bias when interviewing job candidates. Increasingly at my firm, Chameleon Resumes, we are hearing  that “having a beer” with a prospective employer or employee is no longer helpful in determining a good fit. Something better than cultural fit is needed to predict long term success. 

So, if candidates and employers are no longer seeking a cultural fit, how do you, as a job seeker, assess potential job opportunities and employers? 

I recommend that job seekers assess potential employers for “achievement fit” instead of cultural fit. Achievement fit is a better indicator of long-term, mutually beneficial employment. Finding an employer where you can thrive and continuously accomplish will advance your career and create more value for the company over time. 

Signs of Achievement Fit with Potential Employers

1. The company invests in professional development at all levels.

Does the company encourage, provide and fund professional development? Do they excel at succession planning and promote leaders from within? If they do, are such promotions based on achievement and merit as opposed to existing relationships (or company politics)? 

As a VP or C-level leader, talent development should be part of your brand, and you want to have support for this at your next place of employment. If you are a rising leader – perhaps a step or two away from CIO  a company that promotes from within increases your chances of reaching your career goals

2. There is diversity among professional backgrounds.

Do the company’s leaders come from different educational and industry sector backgrounds, or did many of them attend the same school or work together at another company? Diverse backgrounds bring fresh, more diverse ways of thinking to a firm, which result in better ideas and stronger performance.

3. You possess the right skills for the job.

The risk of placing too much emphasis on cultural fit during a job interview is that, while people are getting along beautifully and all the synergies are clicking, everyone starts to assume there’s a good overall fit. This is the primary reason behind bad hires – failing to evaluate whether a candidate even possesses the right skills and experience required for the job! As a candidate, regardless of how much you love a company, your potential coworkers and superiors, be very clear and honest about what skillset is needed for the role, and whether or not you have most of those skills.  For the skills you lack, will the company help you acquire them though mentoring and training?

4. The firm’s values align with your own.

Recently, Facebook  removed terms like “cultural fit” from its hiring process in an effort to prevent unconscious bias. Instead, they ask interviewers to evaluate candidates based on whether their values are in alignment with the company’s values, and how qualified the applicant is to support the company in pursuit of its goals. As a job candidate, it is wise to do the same! Assess whether the prospective employer’s values are aligned with your own and whether they will support your career goals.

5. Work processes are familiar.

When researching a company through your network, and during interviews, ask questions about how the organization solves problems. What frameworks for solving problems and improving their operations has the company subscribed to and invested in - ITIL? Lean? Six Sigma? Then, evaluate whether that problem solving process as described is similar to a process or a framework you have used in the past, or you feel you can learn.  

Shift from Culture Fit Interviewing to Achievement Fit Interviewing

Looking for patterns of achievement and the processes employed by the organization to create those accomplishments will serve job seekers more than just ensuring you can jovially have a beer with someone.  You can still be social with your achievement-focused colleagues, but ensuring the organization you are joining will use your skills, allow you to thrive, and support your goals outweighs simply getting along. Your satisfaction in your career will come from continuous accomplishment, so identify employers that will feed that need.

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