What could airplanes possibly have to do with a job search? I’ll get to that in a moment. First, a little background.

I hate to fly. HATE IT! Even though I look composed while securely strapped in my seat, I’m a mess of nerves. When I fly there is always a Reader’s Digest in my hands. The humor pages help distract me from my anxiety during take-offs and landings.

Because I hate to fly, I am only boarding a plane when my destination is so far away I’d rather risk death by airplane crash than endure days of highways and road trip food. That means my flights are long. Long flights are to blame for the second problem I have with flying, who I get stuck sitting next to.

Surely I’m not alone in dreading who my flight buddy might turn out to be. Even though we’re only talking a few hours, it doesn’t seem that way when pressed for space and trying to tend to ones sanity. My tolerance goes way down. Will I be stuck next to a talkative wiggler? Will the person get up and down constantly for bathroom breaks and carry-on bag search expeditions? Will the person be drowning in some Calvin Klein scent designed to gag those who haven’t built up an immunity?

The person who sits down in the seat next to me is a big deal. We’re going to spend crucial time together. Their proximity to me will play a role in my ability to hit my goal of getting off the plane without enduring an embarrassing panic attack. Never mind this person may be the person I share my last precious moments of life with should the plane run out of gas or all of the screws suddenly rot away. Do you see the significance?

Now, for how this relates to the world of job searches. If you are a candidate being interviewed for a job, it’s not impossible the interviewer is wondering what it would be like to sit next to you on an airplane. Okay, not exactly, but kind of. Your skills may be top notch, but how would it feel to be stuck in a confined space through stressful moments with you? Keep in mind people often spend more waking time interacting with co-workers than their own families. That’s a lot. No one is going to want to saddle themselves with someone who drives them bonkers. That’s not meant to be a dig. It’s part of the human condition to drive people bonkers at times. We all have the potential to annoy someone if we are out of sync with how that person operates.

This isn’t about discrimination or not appreciating diversity. I’m not condoning individuals who don’t give people a chance because they are different from them in some way. We all do need to learn how to reach out to others and compromise. What I’m pointing out is the reality that personalities and habits play a role. Skills alone aren’t enough to proclaim someone a fit. On the bright side, the door swings both ways. Job seekers are equally capable of recognizing a potential supervisor may not be in sync with them enough for the job to be a good option. Chemistry matters to both sides and that’s okay.

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