Career Advice

15 Early Warning Signs You Don’t Fit In At Work (And How To Deal With It)  

Do you have a new job that doesn’t seem to work well? Maybe you’re struggling with going to work every day because you feel like something is off. That odd feeling might happen because you don’t fit in. Fortunately, you can usually tell at the beginning. These are some signs you don’t fit in at work and some help to determine whether you are suitable for your role and environment.

What Does It Mean To Fit in At Work?

There are two ways you can “fit in” at work. The first way refers to blending culturally. You align with your employer’s and coworkers’ values and principles when you fit in with them, so to speak.

Everyone likes or tolerates you because you never rock the boat, question anything, or seem concerned about fairness and similar elements. Typically, to “fit in” means that you are malleable enough to melt into the corporate mold.

The other type of “fitting in” refers to your actual job. When you fit into your job, you have the skills to do it, and you use them well. You are generally happy doing the work and showing up to do it. The people around you might also compliment you on your competencies if they have no envious feelings against you. Moreover, you feel “in tune” with your career.

If you don’t fit in, you’ll likely see some of the signs and symptoms mentioned below, and you may also experience poor treatment.

15 Signs You Don’t Fit in At Work

signs you don't fit in at work

These are some of the top signs to look out for if you don’t think you fit in at work:

1. Your intuition says you don’t fit in

Some call it a gut feeling, and others call it discernment. Intuition is another nickname for that gross feeling in your belly that screams for you to remove yourself from a situation immediately.

You might even “hear” internal messages that say, “I don’t fit in at work anymore.” You should never gloss over that feeling because it’s usually right. Consider that you may not fit in at your current job if you feel those bad vibes early in your career.

2. You dread going to work

Every worker has a blah spell at some point in his or her career. There are days when employees feel less motivated than usual. However, you might be in the wrong place if you always dread going to your job and have only been there for a brief time. A feeling of dread on your way to work indicates that the job is not for you.

Read More: 7 Helpful Tips on How to Not Dread Going to Work

3. You don’t feel like you’ve “got it.”

Another one of the signs you don’t fit in at work is if you never feel like you’ve quite got it together. Your confidence might be low despite being thoroughly trained and having experience.

Maybe you also have a constant feeling of surrealness at work, like you’re operating inside a dream—or nightmare. You might have an out-of-place feeling because you are out of place, and your destiny is to be somewhere else doing something completely different.

4. Your coworkers shun or taunt you

signs you don't fit in at work

You have more problems than not fitting in if your coworkers shun and taunt you. Shunning and taunting could be interpreted as harassment if you experience it soon after starting a new job.

Your coworkers may be treating you that way because you are different, and they don’t understand you. Perhaps you come from a part of the world where people do things differently, and your coworkers don’t like it. Maybe someone feels threatened by your existence. Worse yet, your coworkers may have a ritual of treating the new employees like outcasts to see how far they can be pushed.

5. You don’t find purpose in your work

A person happy in his or her job knows its purpose and is proud of it. Thus, you may not fit your job if you don’t know its purpose.

Ask yourself who you are helping when you do your job and which greater goal you are trying to achieve through your work. It might be time to find more purposeful work if the answer to both of those questions is vague or unknown.

6. Your boss is unpleasant to you

signs you don't fit in at work

Horrible bosses are typically a sign of a mismatch. Therefore, you may have chosen the wrong job if your boss is extremely unpleasant towards you but doesn’t seem to treat anyone else that way.

There might be a reason that your boss wants you to be gone from the premises. Insecurity is one factor that can cause conflicts between workers and their bosses. No-fault personality clashes, stress, and poor leadership skills are some others.

You should probably consider looking for work elsewhere if your boss’s antics affect you negatively every day.

Read More: “I Have A Good Job But I Am Not Happy”: 7 Steps To Find Fulfillment

7. Your job has cliques, and you’re not in them

signs you don't fit in at work

Cliques are a drag, no matter where you work, but there always seems to be one present. You might be in the wrong place if you notice a huge clique exists at your job and you are not a part of it. Clique members usually huddle together and have private conversations that involve gossiping or downgrading other people.

Clique members also help each other to succeed and include each other in various workplace activities. They don’t do that for non-clique members, however. Therefore, you might be a bad fit for your job’s culture if no one invites you to be a clique member.

The same rings true if you frequently find yourself as the butt of other people’s jokes or a target for mistreatment.

8. You can’t see a future there

You can envision yourself with a bright future in a job that fits you. You could close your eyes and see a future with you in a higher position or a more advanced role. The opposite is true when you don’t fit a job. Whenever you think about your future, you draw a blank screen in your head because you don’t believe you belong there.

9. You’re disconnected

Another one of the signs you don’t fit in at work is if you are mentally and emotionally disconnected. The disconnect might be something you have to do to protect yourself from negative dynamics, or it may occur naturally because you aren’t invested in the job.

Read More: 8 Ways To Respond When You Are Deliberately Excluded At Work

10. Your skills and your employer’s needs don’t match

signs you don't fit in at work

You’re probably not in the proper role if your employer isn’t utilizing all of your skills, or they seem to be exploiting one skill and ignoring another. You may need to work for someone who wants to use all of your talents.

11. The job doesn’t match the initial description

You have the wrong job if the duties or reality of your position don’t match what the employer presented in the job listing. You will notice this issue early, and it will most likely demotivate you.

12. You must distance yourself to get through the day

Nothing is more obvious than distancing and disconnecting. You have most likely erred in taking your job if you have to distance yourself and disconnect from everyone to make it through a single day.

13. No one pays attention to you

It might be time to make yourself invisible if you feel invisible daily. Your coworkers’ and bosses’ lack of acknowledgment may be subtle confirmation that they do not respect, appreciate, or value you or your work.

Read More: 10 Signs You Are Not Valued At Work (And Ways To Cope With It)  

14. You keep seeing red flags

A bad employment match will continue to wave its ugly flags until you handle the problem permanently. You can feel confident that you don’t fit in at work if you repeatedly see the same signs.

15. You don’t want to be there

Finally, the number one sign that you don’t fit in at work is that you don’t want to be there. Likewise, it doesn’t seem like your coworkers and bosses want you there. It makes no sense to continue trying to fit into a square hole if you’re a round peg. You can move on and recover fairly quickly.

What To Do When You Feel Like You Don’t Fit in At Work.

You should now understand the signs that you don’t fit in at your current job. These are a few moves you can make to improve your situation:

Assess the situation objectively

First, you must view the situation objectively and ask yourself if the problem is internal or external. An internal issue such as low self-esteem or confidence will require you to work on yourself and change how you perceive your work-life.

A true external problem might require you to consult with a third party, such as HR. Only you know whether the issue legitimately comes from your coworkers and bosses.

Tweak your social skills

signs you don't fit in at work

You may not fit in because your social skills aren’t very advanced. Let your guard down a little bit and speak to your coworkers during breaks and lunches. Try to partake in the small talk without getting too personal and agree to attend functions occasionally. That might help make you feel more like a team member.

Get outside help if necessary

Help is available if you are experiencing harassment or other harmful treatment. The human resources department can help you with that, as can your direct supervisor.

Consider leaving

Don’t feel bad if you need to leave and explore your career at another location or company. Life is too short to waste months or years on something that isn’t working. You should try everything you can but then realize when it’s time to walk away.

Now you know how to know if a job is too big for you and all the signs that you don’t fit in at work. Take the advice above if you are the odd person at your job.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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