Job Search is Like Dating

It’s time to put yourself out there. You want to find that connection, that storied spark. You are tired of settling and ready to put in the effort to find the right fit. You want to get that first-time feeling with someone who appreciates who you are. In the end, you just want to be happy.

You guessed it…I’m talking about your job search. There are some great articles out there that parallel conducting a good job search and navigating the dating scene, and every time I’ve ever mentioned the connection it elicits a knowing smile and nod. Here are a few ways searching for a fulfilling career opportunity is similar to searching for someone who fills your heart:

It’s a two way street: There should be a mutual attraction, in that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You want to like each other, because you will be spending most of your waking hours at work. If you get an offer from an employer you aren’t feeling great about, take a step back and assess whether that is the best place for you or if there might be a better connection elsewhere.

Be yourself: Alas, the piece of advice that is as old as time still rings true today. We’ve all seen this movie, right? (It probably has Katherine Heigl in it.) Person pretends to be someone they are not to attain a goal, person gets revealed, person experiences some measure of uncomfortable, deserved conflict as a result. If you are putting out an image that isn’t you and get hired for it, it just doesn’t end well…much like Katherine Heigl’s career.

Tell people what you are seeking: No reason you should be doing all the work, let your network carry some of the load! If you can effectively communicate what you want to do (even if in general terms) to friends, family, professional contacts, and anyone else you chat with, you give them an opportunity to offer helpful connections, ideas, or advice. If it’s all about “who you know”, let the people you already know help you find more people to know. Sometimes fix- ups are the best matches.

Desperation doesn’t look good on anyone: It really doesn’t. You have a contribution to make, and employers want to hire someone who feels they have value. Show you are interested and excited, but be cool, man. Be cool. You should always follow up with networking contacts, job leads, and applications, but do so in a professional, tasteful manner. One, maybe two correspondences.  Coming off as despairing or stalker-esque will scare off most employers (and anyone else, for that matter.) Confidence will pay off in the end.

Learn from the past: Let experience of bygone days be a guide in life, and in your current job search. Spend time reflecting on what you really do well, what tasks you enjoy, and what you want to be a part of a new work environment based on your background. Let that come across to a prospective employer, and don’t disparage the exes. Didn’t like your last job? Then turn negatives into learning opportunities: employers want to know how you have grown and how you can positively contribute in your next venture.

First impressions still matter: Whether it’s when you lock eyes with your future spouse from across the room, or when you shake the hand of a future employer, first impressions are crucial. Have a compelling resume, dress for success, rehearse your interview opening, spruce up your elevator pitch, and don’t forget to smile. Candidates who stand out are ones who impress from the very beginning.