I have encountered way too many people lately that hate their new jobs. Some were misled. Others grew to hate their responsibilities.

There is always hope that these details can be fixed with a conversation. But, there is one thing that can’t easily be fixed, and that’s not fitting in, or being misplaced. When you are misplaced, you are not invited to certain meetings. You probably don’t have much in common with your colleagues. You constantly feel like you are on your own. We have all been there. Since misplacement often can’t be reversed once you are in, how can it be avoided?

We all want to fit in at work but, sometimes, it’s not easy to determine if you will. How can you confidently determine if something is the right fit?

  1. Write down your career values and keep them with you at all times. Values are our life guides.They keep us in line. Know your values and don’t compromise on them. Keep them with you at all times and, when new opportunities arise, always use your values as your litmus test. If that new opportunity isn’t aligned to your values, then it’s probably not right for you.
  2. Ask for specific examples about how people are recognized, celebrated and promoted. Compare the answers to your values. Try to get as specific as possible. Who was recently promoted and how did they get there? How is diversity celebrated? What type of after hours events are you expected to attend? What is rewarded? If people are rewarded based on things that are not aligned with your values, this is probably not the right opportunity for you.
  3. Observe. Observe. Observe. I once interviewed for a job in which the prospective company bragged about their game rooms. Ironically, it was empty for the entire duration that I was on campus (about four hours)! Through observing, I was able to see that the game rooms were more like storage rooms.Observing goes a long way. Look around. Are people eating at their desks? How are they interacting with each other? Is the office loud or quiet? Look around, take notes and determine if the way you work is compatible with the organization.
  4. Go with your gut. It’s amazing how easily we go against our gut and start making up excuses for situations that we know are off. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Yes, miracles can happen but they are not likely. If it seems like you don’t fit in, then you probably won’t.

While it feels good to be wanted, every opportunity will not be right for you. Be honest with yourself. If you don’t fit in, you won’t be able to do your best work and will soon sink in to isolation. Pull out your values and get real with yourself.