Getting apprehensive as you get dressed up, rehearsing the stories you want to tell, following up afterward hoping for a second chance, and getting hopeful for what the future might bring…searching for a job is a lot like dating, isn’t it?
It might seem like a strange comparison, but when you stop to think about it, dating and job hunting have a lot in common. From the initial search to putting your best self forward, both activities involve a lot of effort and a lot of searching for the right fit. But if all goes right, you might just find a bright future.
Numerous experts have made the same observations, and thinking of the similarities between the dating world and job-seeking can provide an interesting change in perspective. Embrace these dating-esque strategies and you just might find a new career to fall in love with.
Know what you want
Many people don’t like to admit it, but most people have a type when it comes to dating. Whether consciously or subconsciously, people are looking for a partner or partners that check certain boxes. Just as understanding your tastes matters in dating, knowing what you want in an employer partner is vital before you even start your search.
FlexJobs’ Kat Boogaard compares looking for a flexible work environment, room for growth, and a good salary to looking for a sense of humor or a shared passion with a prospective romantic partner. Identifying what traits are important to you before starting the search will make the journey much more fulfilling.
It’s also important to decide what level of commitment you want before searching. Maybe you want a casual fling with a new industry. Maybe you’re looking to settle down for the long term. You’ll want to decide before you swipe.
Know what you’re getting into
Speaking of swiping, the internet is a double-edged sword for both dating and job hunting. The ease of dating apps and online job boards means more potential for connection, but it also means you have a lot of competition. You’ll face much more rejection, and ghosting is common. You may have thought things went well with that cute marketing company, but you never hear from them again. It’s part of the search.
Just as you may have better luck if a friend fixes you up with a date, having a business connection will make the search important. Networking is the best wingman out there.
“Your coffee date doesn’t show up, an exciting person ghosts you, everyone is flaky, and you feel like a piece of meat. You must be job hunting.” –Arianne Cohen, Bloomberg
Make your best first impression
Once you’ve landed the date/interview, you want to put your best foot forward and make the best first impression possible. Dress your best, show up on time, don’t look at your phone, and be a good listener.
Beyond the basics, prior research is key. Via a 2021 Statista survey, 40% of people look up their date online, and 44% will search for their social media. This gives you a better idea of who you’re meeting and provides talking points. The same philosophy applies to job searching. Always research the organization beforehand. Not only with the information answer some of your early questions, but you’ll get a feel for the overall culture and see if you’re a good fit. You’ll have much more to talk about and be able to impress your date.
Forbes’ Caroline Castrillon stresses the importance of body language. Nonverbal queues play a major role in your interpersonal interactions. You can practice power poses to build confidence and really wow your interviewer.
“Whether it’s facial expressions, gestures or eye contact, non-verbal cues can make the difference between getting a job offer or being shown out the door.” – Caroline Castrillon
Be authentic, and don’t be desperate
Caroline also stresses the importance of being your authentic self. “If you can’t be yourself, then what’s the point?” Knowing what you want and doing prior research make it easy to recognize whether this is a good fit or not. You want a partner that shares your values, and you don’t want to settle for less than you deserve.
Don’t just take the first thing that comes along. Looking desperate is a turn-off in both the dating and professional worlds. Just as looks aren’t everything in dating, money isn’t the only trait that matters in job seeking. A bad fit may mean starting your search anew, but it’s better to come to that conclusion early on instead of having a messy breakup.
“Don’t talk about a job too early in the process of networking, that is like talking about what you want to name your children on the first date.” –Hannah Morgan
Don’t talk about your ex
Just as talking about your ex on the first date is a major red flag, bashing your previous employer is a major faux pas in an interview. Don’t do it.
Trust your gut
At the end of the search, you’ll have a lot of information at your disposal, but only you can decide whether you’ve found the right partner for you. It’s okay to be picky; if something doesn’t feel right despite looking good on paper, don’t be afraid to move on. You’re making a life-altering decision, and it’s okay to wait for the best fit.
Dating and finding a career have a surprising amount in common. The search can be harrowing, but if you know what you want, do your homework, make a good first impression, and be yourself, you can find a situation you’re comfortable with.