12 Ways in Which Looking for a Job is Like Dating

by Melanie Steimle
There are no such things as soul mates.

Just as there is no one meant-to-be-yours-since-the-beginning-of-time soul mate (sorry, Saturday’s Warrior), there is no one perfect job or career for you. While it’s very in vogue right now to subscribe to the notion that following your bliss and turning it into your life’s work will make you happy forever and anything else is inauthentic and will result in misery, in reality a satisfying career involves some initial attraction followed up by a lot of hard work and commitment.

Be in the right place.

A common piece of dating advice is to go to places and join groups where you’ll find like-minded people. Similarly, in searching for jobs you can spend all your time on general job boards, where you’ll find the occasional gem in a sea of irrelevant postings, or you can use your time more wisely by frequenting niche-specific databases and websites. Start by visiting professional association websites in your field; these sites often have lists of helpful resources.

(Net)work it. 

I once read somewhere that the majority of people meet their spouse through a mutual acquaintance. The same concept holds true in the professional world: networking is one of the most effective ways of finding out about job opportunities.

So I have this friend…

My single girlfriends and I would love to help each other out meeting great guys, but the fact of the matter is, when there’s a great guy around, we each want to date him ourselves. Likewise, your closest connections probably know about the same professional opportunities you do. LinkedIn is based on the concept of 2nd and 3rd degree connections because the people outside of your primary network are most likely to be aware of new opportunities. Don’t be shy about asking for introductions to the people who know people you know.

What does Google say?

You know you do it. You see someone at church or your friend offers to set you up and you immediately whip out your phone to check the person’s Facebook profile picture and see what he’s tweeted lately. Well, the internet isn’t just for vetting blind dates; it’s also for vetting job applicants. The majority of hiring managers say they’ve done online searches on potential job candidates. Know what Google says about you.

You need more than just a pretty face.

Although attraction is important in a relationship, most of us are looking for more than just a pair of fine eyes. Similarly, a clean, easy-to-read resume needs to attract the attention of an employer, but in making hiring decisions, most employers consider your personality and cultural fit just as important as your qualifications.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Your favorite roommate from college is head-over-heels in love and you’re feeling just a little bit jealous and then they show up at your house for dinner and whoa…that is not someone you’d ever consider dating. You can have all of the right qualifications, a perfect cover letter, and a fantastic interview and still not get the job. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you; sometimes it’s just about finding the right fit on both sides. Keep trying; it will work out.

Desperation is really unattractive.

You’ve probably met these people a time or two: the guy with the ultra-focused stare or the girl who sticks to your side and won’t let anyone else talk to you. Just as in dating, desperation in the job search will kill your game rather than improving it. If you’re sending out dozens of applications each week, chances are that you’re not applying to jobs for which you’re truly qualified and/or your applications aren’t adequately tailored to the job. Slow down; be thoughtful and deliberate about which opportunities you invest time in pursuing.

It’s not you, well actually it is.

Sometimes, even when you have an open mind and you work really hard at the relationship, you decide that someone just isn’t right for you. That’s part of the purpose of dating, after all. Oftentimes we get so nervous about job interviews or so desperate for a job offer that we downplay the importance of evaluating whether or not the job is a good fit. Know what is important to you in a job and work environment and use the interview as an opportunity to inquire about those things. If you feel that you won’t do well in or be happy at a job, it’s totally appropriate to gracefully remove yourself from consideration.

Know what you’re worth.

I’ve long since thrown away those lists of qualities in a husband that I compiled when I was in Young Women. Sure, playing the guitar would be nice, but it’s not exactly a deal breaker for me at this point. However, I’ve chosen to live my life in a certain way and I expect that my future husband will share some of those same values. Likewise, when you receive a job offer, you need to be aware of both market value and what you bring to the table so that you can effectively negotiate your salary and benefits. Employers are increasingly starting to use salary requirements as a screening tool, so although you shouldn’t be the one to start a discussion about money, you need to be prepared to discuss salary (a preferred range based on market value) early on in the interview process.

Give it time.

It’s been a couple of years since you were in a real, more-than-three-dates relationship and the guy is great and totally into you but you’re…terrified! I hope I’m not the only one who feels a little anxiety at the beginning of a relationship, even when it’s something I’m really excited about. Feeling a sense of fear at the beginning of a job is normal. You may have declined other offers and you’ve now closed yourself off – at least temporarily – from other options. Plus, you’re probably in a new and unfamiliar environment and some adjustment and growing pains are to be expected. Give it time.

Choose your love and love your choice.

I’ve never been married, but word on the street is it’s hard and sometimes you wonder why you even married this person who steals all of the covers and never puts the toilet seat down. But you stay committed and you work at it and hopefully the good days outnumber the bad. While accepting a job or choosing a career certainly isn’t binding for eternity, it is good to remember that every job has its ups and downs, its pros and its cons. I don’t know of any job, no matter how glamorous or lucrative, that doesn’t have its downsides. Sometimes a job change or career transition is warranted, but sometimes a little change of perspective will do you good.

One Comment on “12 Ways in Which Looking for a Job is Like Dating

  1. This was very cleverly put, Melanie. What a great approach! I am especially enamored with your Jane Austen reference. 😉

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