A Tale of Two Sweaters

Marcianne Kuethen
November 21, 2017

Do you wonder how to find a better fit in your career? Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a rut in your job? Then a tale of two sweaters might get you back on the right track:

The Not-So-Perfect Fit

My mother used to wear a soft, brown sweater that set off her porcelain skin and pearly white teeth perfectly. As a freshman in high school, I was thrilled to be able to claim it as my own the day she finally relegated it to the giveaway pile. I hung it in my closet with visions of looking just as pretty in it as my mom had.

But disappointingly, every blouse or dress I tried pairing with that sweater just didn’t quite work, due to the neckline, color, or style. And truthfully, the sweater itself didn’t fit me that well. But stubbornly, I held onto the idea that I could someday make that sweater work with something…until my own freshman daughter sagely informed me that even when styles return, they never come back exactly the same. I couldn’t believe that for twenty-something years, I’d hung onto that useless brown sweater. Suddenly, I saw it for what it was–stretched out, faded, and just plain old tired. It landed in our giveaway pile that very day!

Are you still wearing someone else’s castoff sweater? Not literally, of course, but are you stuck in a pattern, choice, or belief that once was good but now isn’t serving you and your career well?

Perhaps you were young when you chose your profession, only to realize, once you were making money, that it wasn’t your passion. Or maybe you really longed to do something creative but you were urged to pursue a more practical, responsible route. It could be that you aren’t really a culture fit with your company, but you’re bound and determined to make the job work because the commute isn’t so bad. Maybe you’re a manager who’s sticking with your authoritarian style because it’s what you learned, even though your employee turnover rate is on the rise. Or it might just be that you’re still listening to condemning voices from your childhood, voices that keep you from making good eye contact, building healthy relationships, and believing you’re capable of having a successful career.

In her book A Million Little Ways, Emily P. Freeman talks about how we often let “second things”–things we can do but aren’t passionate about–take up all our time and crowd out “first things”–those pursuits that fit who we were made to be and satisfy our deeper longings. If you’re spending too much of your day on second things and feeling dissatisfied, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your choices. Are there first things you haven’t had the courage to pursue? Are you cheating both your company and yourself by settling for second things?

A Better Fit

Around the same time that I finally got rid of that brown sweater, my husband stopped wearing what I thought of as his crazy sweater. It featured turquoise stripes with green and black zigzags all over it. Since I have a thing for sweaters (as you’ve probably figured out by now!) and those colors suited me perfectly, I altered the sleeves to fit my smaller frame. Since oversized sweaters were now in fashion, I felt so stylish every time I sported that sweater.

How to Find a Better Fit in Your Career

Which “sweater” are you wearing at work? Do you enjoy the daily challenges and culture your job dishes out? Or do you just wish you could? If you’re feeling stuck in a role that you dread, it’s worth your time to explore to find a better fit! Our career scorecard may be just what you need to identify what works for you and what doesn’t in your work environment. Also, taking a personality test like 16 Personalities can not only help you become more self-aware, but also learn about what types of roles your personality is most comfortable performing.

If a tale of two sweaters stirs up a longing to find more meaningful work, listen to yourself. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to leave your current workplace–perhaps all it takes is to explore options at your current place of employment. But it does mean you’re ready for a change, and there’s no better time than today to start pursuing a better fit.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board for professional and technical jobs while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions. Also, join our Talent Network to receive updates and alerts with new job opportunities that match your interests.

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