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Improving Your Match Quality: How to Differentiate Yourself and Thrive

Have you ever found yourself in a job you thought you wanted, only to realize it wasn't the right fit for you? Or maybe you've been in a job for years but still feel unsatisfied with your career? The concept of match quality might be the missing piece to your career puzzle.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
Image of puzzle pieces to convey the idea of match quality.
Match quality might be the missing piece to your career puzzle.

Have you ever found yourself in a job you thought you wanted, only to realize it wasn't the right fit for you? Or maybe you've been in a job for years but still don't feel entirely satisfied with your career? The concept of match quality might be the missing piece to your career puzzle.

As I look back on my career, the importance of match quality on my career satisfaction and success cannot be understated.  I now realize that when the match quality was low, I  was never completely satisfied with my job; I felt like something was missing. On the other hand, when my match quality was high, I felt fulfilled in my role and saw results such as increased innovation impact along with team and company success.

My advice, no matter the stage of your career, is to look at your match quality and find ways to improve it so that you differentiate yourself and can thrive.

Match Quality

The concept of “match quality” was first introduced by economists in the 1960s. It measures how well an employee's skills, experience, and interests match their job requirements.

"Match quality is the key to unlocking a successful career."

A good match quality between a person and their job leads to higher satisfaction, engagement, and overall career success. The opposite is also true: if there's poor match quality; it leads to dissatisfaction, lack of motivation, and low career success.

Evaluating Your Match Quality

One way to identify if you have good match quality is to reflect on your values and personality traits. For instance, your match quality may be low if you value autonomy and creativity but work in a rigid, micromanaged environment. Your match quality is likely high if you thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment and work in a startup that embodies those characteristics.

Another aspect to consider is the level of skill match. This refers to how well your skills and expertise align with the job requirements. Your skill match might be low if you constantly struggle to perform the required tasks or feel underutilized. Conversely, if you're constantly learning and challenged in your job, you probably have a high-skill match.

Match quality is a two-way street. While individuals need to find the right fit for their profession, it's equally crucial for employers to find the right fit for their company's culture and values. Employers focusing on matching the right people to the right jobs have higher retention rates, more engaged employees, and a better organizational culture.

Improving Your Match Quality

If you find that your match quality is not ideal, don't worry. Here are some tips for improving it:

1. Develop expertise in a specific area or skill set. Expertise is invaluable because it gives you leverage and the ability to be more creative in problem-solving, which employers value highly. Take the time to build up your skills in a particular area to stand out from the competition.

2. Stay current with industry trends and innovation developments. It's critical to stay on top of what's happening in the workplace and understand how it might affect your role or influence decisions in your organization. Monitoring emerging trends can help you stay ahead of the curve.

3. Focus on improving your relationship with colleagues and management. A strong relationship gives you an edge in understanding how best to approach challenges or opportunities within the organization. It also encourages open dialogue among team members, facilitates collaboration, and helps improve trust.

4. Network and make connections with people in your industry. Networking allows you to build strong relationships with people with the same interests and can provide valuable insight into potential opportunities, new trends, or even advice. Take advantage of conferences, seminars, online forums, or any other relevant events where you can meet like-minded people.

5. Improve your communication skills. Communication is key in any workplace. Whether it's a presentation to management, an internal email, or even a casual conversation with colleagues, effective communication can help you stand out and differentiate yourself from the competition.

Match quality isn't easy - it requires effort and dedication. But if you take the time to focus on improving your match quality, you will see results in terms of career satisfaction and success.


The importance of match quality in one’s career is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. If you have the wrong pieces, the picture doesn’t come out right, and it becomes difficult to complete the task. The match quality is high if employers and employees can properly align their values, skill sets, and personalities. This makes for a rewarding job experience with greater success for both parties.


Phil McKinney Twitter

Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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