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Should you choose the dream role or company?

If you received two job offers — one that isn’t exactly the right fit but is at a company you admire and one that perfectly aligns with your qualifications but the company culture isn’t ideal — which one would you choose?

While it may seem as though the obvious answer is to choose the job over the company, not all hiring experts agree. While working in a role that matches up with your skills and experience may help you move up more quickly, if you’re uncomfortable with the company environment or don’t get along with your manager, you may end up miserable. That’s not to say you should take a job purely because of the company; if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing eight-plus hours a day, it won’t matter that the company offers a flexible work schedule or how much you admire the CEO.

No clear answer

Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. You have to assess the pros and cons of each opportunity, while also taking your personal situation into consideration. Here, career experts share their thoughts on making the choice between a dream role or dream company:


“My advice is to always go for the particular job that best suits the person and that they will enjoy the most. It doesn’t matter what the bigger picture is with the company as a whole or the industry, but what they will be doing and how they will be spending their time each day. Eight hours is a very long time each day to be doing something that isn’t right. I have worked for impressive-sounding organizations, but the job was hell and not nearly as fun or interesting as one would think from the outside.” — Ellen Mastros, founder of career-coaching website

“As a career coach, I would come down on the side of the right company over the right role if that’s the choice a job seeker confronts. Why? Because the company culture reflects the values of the leadership — what’s important, how are things done, where are the boundaries, what’s expected? If those elements are not a match, the dissonance can be very difficult to overcome. The ideal — [the] right role in [the] right company — is more likely in a company that fits the individual’s values, character and boundaries, assuming that person has the skills and experience to qualify for the role.” — Marti Benjamin, certified career management coach at Business Energetix-Success Coaching


“Workers should be looking for the right job. However, culture and environment is paramount. You have to be able to close your eyes and see yourself driving/commuting to that office and working with those people every day. Considering that we spend most of our time at work — this is critical. A worker who is miserable is a worker who is unproductive. It’s a lose/lose for both parties. Weigh your options. Will this role that is outside of your ideal position reap benefits in some capacity? Will you learn invaluable market data? Will you work with some of the premiere thought leaders in your desired industry?” Kelly Moeller, team manager at digital staffing firm VitaminT


“The culture, such as work ethic, tone and atmosphere, can make or break the work experience. Determine it ahead of time during the interview with your prospective boss and peers … [The] bottom line is whether you’re following your passions, feel that there are growth prospects and that the fit feels right. What is the chemistry with your prospective boss and co-workers? Does their mission seem worthy to you? Can you see yourself devoting most of your day to the position and the organization? Does there seem to be a solid path to career advancement and success? No job is perfect, but over time, with tenure and good performance, you’ll likely have more latitude in shaping your job.” — Lynn Taylor, workplace expert and CEO of Santa Monica-based Lynn Taylor Consulting

“My advice would vary based on the stage of the job seeker’s career. Let’s look at it from someone new to the workforce or at least on their first or second job. Finding the right company should be the focus of the search. The job must be aligned to your skills, but don’t stress over the details of the job. You want to find a company that is full of opportunity and provides a great employee environment … This strategy will also work for those job seekers who have done almost everything on their job list and are looking for a great environment to contribute. If you fall into the middle category of job seekers that have been somewhere for a while and really are not passionate about your work, it may be time to get real specific on what you do … It will always be harder to find the perfect job rather than the perfect company, and remember, it will be easier with hard work to modify your job into what you like to do than it will be to change a company.” — Nancy Mobley, CEO of HR consulting firm Insight Performance based outside of Boston

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