May is the month of graduations. Many new graduates are excited about their future, but at the same time somewhat nervous about new jobs and a new life.

Occasionally, I will meet with some graduating seniors who need career advice, either for a good reason (too many job offers to choose from) or a bad reason (no offers yet).

My suggestion is: Forget about the stereotypes others put on you and trust your gut. You know what you are good at and what you like. Find an employer that is the best match — if not the perfect match for yourself. Act as if the employer is the perfect match for you in your personal life.

That being said, students must continue looking until they find the employer that matches their personality, regardless of whether they have too many or too little options. They should never settle for an employer that does not fit.

Theoretically, there are four types of personality "fits" in the workplace:

  • Person-organization (PO): the compatibility between the person and the entire organization
  • Person-job (PJ): the relationship between a person's characteristics and those of the job or tasks performed at work
  • Person-group (PG): the interpersonal compatibility between individuals and the work groups
  • Person-supervisor (PS): the dyadic relationship between the employee and his/her supervisor in the work environment

According to my research in recruitment and selection (e.g., Study I, Study II and Study III), companies are striving to hire the candidates who fit into their organizational culture (PO fit) over PJ, PG or PS fit.

If a candidate fits into the organizational culture well but does not know the skills for the job, a company can always provide job training for the candidate. Employers also believe it will not be that difficult to find the "right" group or the "right" supervisor to work with the candidate because all employees being hired are matched with the same organizational culture.

While an employer is seeking the best-fit candidates, job seekers are also looking for the best-fit employer, right? That's why I said earlier, finding a dream job is just like dating for the perfect match. Now, the question comes: How many "dates" does a candidate must go through before finding the perfect match?

I wish I could provide a definite answer here, but the results really depend on the "chemistry" between the candidate and the employer (and whoever works for the employer). In general, a candidate may try the following steps to find the perfect-match:

1. Begin observing and interacting with all potential employers as early as possible.

2. Forget about all the stereotypes associated with a potential employer. Some may recommend a hospitality student should always work in luxury hotels as these hotels have the highest standards in customer service, no matter if it is a nonpaid or not-so-desired position for the candidate. To them, working in a luxury hotel is perceived "superior" to other jobs in a nonluxury property.

If a luxury hotel turns out to be a good fit for a candidate, of course it is fine to accept a position with competitive salary. No matter what others think about the luxury hotel, why would anyone want to work for a company that does not even appreciate his/her value with right compensation package? Most of all, one should never work for a company just because everybody else says that is a good employer.

Imagine if you were a vegetarian and forced to eat a filet mignon or a lobster tail. No matter how tasty everybody else tells you, would you be happy and able to finish the meats on the plate? Likewise, if you were meat lover, would you be happy to eat veggie meals for the rest of your life?

3. Experience what the company offers as a customer. Find out if all employees are happy working in the company and see if they are happy when they are serving you.

4. Talk to the alumni, professors, family or friends who have worked in the company before. Ask them what they did in the company and how they feel about what they did. Then, ask yourself if you would be as happy or unhappy if you had the same experience.

5. Talk to recruiters and employees as a job candidate and see how they treat you. Do they listen to you? Do they respect you? How soon do they respond to your questions? In the end, the big question is how comfortable you are when you interact with them because you will likely be working with this group of people for the next few years.

6. If possible, try working in the company's competitors and see what others talk about the company. By doing so, it also provides you an opportunity to "date" with different employers in the same field and decide which one is the best match later.

After you try all of my above suggestions, if you are still feeling happy and positive about the company, and you hold no reservations or concerns of choosing this employer, congratulations! You have found the dream job. You will probably do well in this position and stay with this employer for a long time.

What if it does not work out after you work there for a few years? Then, I will recommend you to start "dating" another employer and find a better match. Nobody can guarantee one will find the perfect match in the first date, right? Likewise, nobody can guarantee a successful or long-term marriage either even if such marriage is built on a perfect-match relationship.

Are you happy with your current employer? What are your secrets? If you are not happy, what stops you from "dating" another employer?