Time and again, when surveys ask workers what they like about their jobs, the most common answer is “the people.” If you love the people and the employer, the work itself is often enjoyable. In a Kununu review, one Adecco employee cited large, company-wide lunches, tickets to local events, and interacting with the employees every day as reasons for being “in love with this culture.”
Likewise, a Staples employee wrote, “I have never been with a company that I have wanted to work my best at, 100 percent of the time.” Why? “[B]ecause the customers are lovely and kind, and so are my coworkers.”
Of course, whether you’re compatible with a potential company’s people is not something you want to learn on the job. How do you figure out whether they’re a good match before accepting an offer?
Below are four things to keep in mind as you search for a job, inspired by the online dating world:
1) Be yourself
As a blog on the dating app Hinge puts it, “If you want a real, authentic relationship, it’s so important that you present yourself in the most authentic way … Filters don’t translate to real life.” Likewise, showy photos — like of you next to large, ferocious wild animals — are inauthentic. In fact, Tinder launched an all-out campaign to end their users’ “tiger selfies”: “Posing next to a king of the jungle doesn’t make you one,” they wrote.
Just the same, exaggerating on your resume or cover letter, or putting up a front that you’re an expert in something when you’re not, prevents companies from getting to know the real you. They might be impressed by your accomplishments, but they won’t feel connected to you — which will ultimately sabotage your chances.
Help companies get to know you by avoiding sweeping, vague self-descriptions. The online dating site Coffee Meets Bagel advises against using simple adjectives like “I’m funny, smart and kind.” That doesn’t tell a potential match anything about you except that you’re unoriginal. Likewise, don’t say you’re a “leader”: offer a brief anecdote of how and when you led people.
On the flip-side, make sure your potential match is for-real, too. Successful dating app matches Google and social-media-stalk each other before they meet, so they know they’re not getting duped; they verify that the restaurant they’re meeting at actually exists and isn’t in a dangerous part of town; they sniff out exaggerations, falsifications, and weird vibes.
Give the same skeptical eye to potential employers. Read reviews and talk to connections who work there to verify all of the company’s sweeping, vague promises during the hiring process. If HR gushes about “phenomenal benefits,” ask to see a list. If your potential boss tells you there’s plenty of room for advancement, ask them to tell you about the last person they promoted.
2) Seek similar interests
Similar interests are not overrated. When you have limited time to spend with your significant other, you want to do stuff that you both enjoy. In one Bumble success story, the couple’s overlapping, abnormal interests helped them hit it off and stay together: they both love the gym, are weather geeks, and have dads who are preachers. They both have a strong Christian faith and want their partner to, too. Bumble’s research shows that even people with similar professions are attracted to each other.
Aim for similar interests with your company, too. If you’re going to spend two-thirds of your waking hours doing something, it’s important to like it. And what you like depends on who you are. One employee at Fiber-Span Corporation was “completely in love with working with customers on highly technical networks and field engineering solutions to complex fiber optic and microwave radio network challenges.” An employee at Dicks Sporting Goods wrote, “I am a sports nut and this is a dream job!” while a Barnes & Noble employee wrote about work that was fun “from beginning to end”: “What could be better than talking to people about books, learning [about] authors, meeting writers? It is a dream job.”
Look for opportunities that synch with work you’ve loved in the past. An employee at Points of Light Foundation Conference said that her job was “a perfect match” because her background and passions were in television and community outreach, which is what she did in her new job. “It was fun and inspiring!”
Once you’re at an interview, just as you would on a date, make sure to talk about how much you have in common with the company: you love what they love, which makes you a perfect match.
3) Admit you like them
Bumble’s “SuperSwipe” feature lets potential matches know that you’re especially interested in them. Their data suggests that men who use SuperSwipe on potential matches are twice as likely to get a match. Why? We like people who like us.
In the dating world, you let people know you’re interested in them by “SuperSwiping,” promptly responding to their messages, expressing excitement about meeting, or using dumb, endearing lines like, “Free for coffee? Because I like you a latte!” Whatever works.
The same applies to job searching. “Truth be told,” Hailey Tully, the Communications and PR manager at Vita Coco, told Bumble, “You won’t make it past the first round if they don’t think you really want it.”
In your cover letter and interviews, make it clear why you love this particular company. Tell them stories about the first time you encountered their product, or explain how you’ve always loved their niche and what you do now to feed your passion for it. Let them know you’re excited about the position, you want to learn more, and you want to meet them. Of course, only do that if you really are excited. Just like dates, employers can sniff desperation from across the Internet.
4) Outsmart the honeymoon phase
It would be interesting to chart the use of the word “soulmate” through the average couple’s relationship. My guess is people use it most in the beginning. Then they learn things about each other. He doesn’t do the dishes. She’s stupidly picky and close-minded about her movies. He lies to her. She’s rude to his mom. He’s a romantic at heart, traumatized by his ex-girlfriend, and will do anything for another chance. She’s a control freak but it all stems from insecurity and she’s working on it. Throughout the course of a long-term relationship, people learn that terms like “soulmate” are too simplifying.
In careers, too, we set ourselves up for disappointment by idealizing potential jobs. Our dream jobs often turn into “nightmares,” as many Kununu reviews attest. “I thought I had found my dream job, [but it] quickly turned into a nightmare due to lack of communication and tight-knit cliques,” one Wealthmark Advisors Incorporated employee wrote. Another, as CSC, complained, “Really can’t say much good anymore. Was once my dream job. Now, I can’t wait to find a new company to work for.” One Ford employee summed that “A lot of new hires come in thinking it’s a cake walk to a dream job, and quickly change their mind after the first full shift.”
Sometimes companies, like people, really do change for the worse. But, more often, the writing was on the wall. Know what you’re getting into by researching the company, reading its reviews, and talking to employees who worked there or, even better, have recently quit. No single account is going to be 100 percent accurate but, if you do well-rounded research, you should get an accurate sense. If you haven’t found any negatives at all, you haven’t done enough research. The key is to know what the company struggles with so you can anticipate it, or decide that you can’t tolerate that particular flaw, before taking the job.
With authenticity, similar interests, expressed enthusiasm, and pragmatism, you can find a match made in heaven.