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As children, most people are told that if you work hard, it will pay off. Working hard is the key to success. This makes a lot of sense. Hard work should be the foundation for accomplishments. For each degree you earn or position you hold, you become more qualified. You are checking off more and more boxes that make you a better and better fit for a future role.

This theory works fairly well in fields such as computer programming. It is not uncommon for computer programmers to earn certifications and take courses, even beyond their degrees. The qualifications to be a computer programmer are more clear cut than in other fields, so it is fairly easy to distinguish who the most qualified candidate is.

Unfortunately, there are many other fields where this is not the case. This is true in marketing, for example, where candidate qualifications can vary widely for the same role. And, this is the same situation for executive level roles. These employees can find their path to success through many different roads, and different degrees.

When hiring, what’s a company to do? Very often, the hiring manager is looking for what is known as a culture fit. Culture can become their number one priority. They have a good team in place, and they want someone who will get along well with that team. They want to keep things on track, and someone who fits culturally feels like the answer.

Unfortunately, the desire to find a culture fit creates a few unforeseen consequences. Sometimes, the people who are the most likely to fit culturally are also very similar people. In other words, they may be similar in age. They could be the same gender or have the same religious views. They could be the same ethnicity. Or, they may have similar hobbies or children around the same age.

Have you ever noticed that an entire team of company leaders often has a lot in common with one another personally? It’s more than being good at their jobs. They are also very similar people.

Unfortunately, this makes the bar much higher for interview candidates. Not only must they be qualified to do the job, but they must be like the other employees. And, if they are different, then they must be overqualified. In other words, there has to be a lot of extra perks to the person in order to be selected.

Don’t get me wrong. It is important to get along with your team at work. Companies don’t want to hire someone who is high conflict, and who may cause problems within the company. But, there is a big difference between fitting in with everyone and being high conflict. There’s a big difference in being able to do the work, and being just like everyone else.

Being aware of this potential pitfall will ensure you’re hiring the most qualified candidates, not the most similar.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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