Improving a Bad Fit

Decorative: A picture of a square block and a round hole


"Warning Signs That You and Your Campus Are a Bad Fit" (post) explains that "[w]hatever your rank, fit is a key factor that should guide your stay-or-go decision (assuming you have a choice; many Ph.D.’s don’t)" and provides both "some ideas on what you can do to improve the fit where you are" and "a few warning signs that you and your employer may be out of sync."

  • Each of these points is developed more fully in the post.

A. "Signs of a Poor Fit Professionally"

"[I]t the small, day-to-day struggles that can make a job unbearable. So no matter how grateful you are to have a job, be alert for these signs that your institution may not be a good fit":

  • "Too much red tape" 
  • "Lack of professional agency"
  • "Lack of resources"
  • "Too much service"
  • "Inconsistent or unsupported job requirements" 

B. "Signs of a Poor Fit Personally"

"Among the signs that your job may be having a negative effect on your well-being" are the following:

  • "You’re in poor health."
  • "You feel isolated."
  • "You feel undervalued." 
  • "You’re working too much."

C. Ways to Improve the Fit Where You Are

"[M]ake the most out of the job you have."

1. "Plan, plan, plan."

  • "Start the paperwork at least a semester in advance if you know there are hurdles to clear before you can teach a new course, attend a conference, go on parental leave, or even change offices."
  • "Keep a binder of organizational charts for the departments and offices with which you regularly interact."
  • "Be informed about who approves what and about what materials they need to act on your request."

2. "Clarify or revise job expectations." 

  • "[A]dvocate for yourself -- particularly at the start of your job, when you are establishing your role within the department."
  • "[L]earn exactly what is expected of you, along with your evaluation timelines and available support."
  • "Don’t be afraid to ask for things in writing so that you have a paper trail."

3. "Find external resources." 

  • "[L]ook beyond the campus borders ... [for] grants, scholarships, and fellowships that support teaching and research projects ... [as well as] professional-development opportunities ... [and] national organizations and small businesses that can provide job coaching and professional mentoring."

4. "Make friends outside of work." 

  • "Cultivating relationships with people who are not affiliated with your institution goes a long way toward creating a healthy work-life balance."
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