The importance of “Job Fit” – Finding the right role for you

The vast majority of autistic adults are under or unemployed, as high as 75-85%. There are myriad reasons and barriers to successful employment in the autistic community, including difficulties navigating the job search and the interview process. After the uphill battle to get a job, autistic adults also face barriers to keep a job. One significant barrier is lack of self-awareness of careers, jobs, and work environments that would be a good fit.

Unfortunately for many autistic job seekers, this pattern of serial unemployment or fear of the job search can begin during the teenage years as a result of poor fit summer job experiences.

The two sides to job fit

If you Google “job fit,” most of what you’ll find discusses the importance of good job fit from the employer side. Here is one example from a company that sells assessment tools to businesses:

“Job fit is a concept that refers to how well an employee is suited for his or her position. Hiring employees who are the best fit for their positions is a great way for an organization to decrease turnover (both voluntary and involuntary) and to improve employee retention rates. In general, employees who are well-suited for their positions will be happier and more productive, which can have a positive impact on company morale and ultimately benefit a company’s bottom line.”

It is true that hiring someone who is a good fit for the job is financially beneficial for an employer. It is expensive and time consuming to find, hire and train employees. But this definition, and others like it, minimize or ignore the toll that poor job fit can take on an employee, especially an autistic employee.

Poor job fit leads to low job satisfaction, increased anxiety and stress surrounding work, and potentially even losing the job. The mental health implications of poor job fit may lead to reluctance to look for work. Frequent firings may mar a job applicant’s chances for serious consideration, even if the applicant’s skills and education are a perfect match for the job.

Finding a role that’s right for you

The good news is that with a little introspection, so much can be learned about good fit. Simply reflecting on what went wrong or didn’t feel right during past employment can offer important clues about good job fit. Perhaps the pace of the work or the loud background noise in the place of employment were too much. In that case, the chances for good job fit can increase by looking for work that has a slower or more predictable pace or a quieter employment location. For a teenager looking to snag that coveted summer job at the local ice cream shop, thinking about the bright lights, rush of kids in the late afternoon, and constant need to smile might be worthwhile before an application is submitted.

If examining past job experiences or parsing out challenges that certain jobs might present seems like a daunting task, I can help! Contact me to learn how.