Did you realize that, unless you work together, you likely spend more time at work than you do with your spouse or significant other? And regardless of your relationship status, you likely spend the majority of your productive waking hours with coworkers and bosses, rather than any other human being. Isn’t that crazy? Your work life impacts your relationships whether you like it or not, and that’s just one of the many ways your work life impacts your overall happiness.
Given that your work life takes up so much of your life, it probably wouldn’t be very hard to believe that the act of finding work – or job searching – is actually a LOT like dating.
I know what you might be thinking – having a “work spouse” doesn’t count. However, just think about it for a second: from initiating your online job search to the interview stage, there are a lot of similarities between finding the right person to date and finding the right company to work for – in both cases you’re going through what seems like tons of hoops just to try to find that perfect match!
Here are the 4 specific ways job searching is like dating, along with how you can stand out during the hiring process using some of the same tactics you would when dating:
1. First impression is everything
Your first impression is crucial when it comes to dating, which is why a boring first message, an uninspiring profile, or bad manners will tank your attempts at catching someone’s attention upon your first encounter with them (online or in person). The same holds true for job hunting: If your cover letter is bland or your resume does not incorporate keywords that would interest the recruiter, your application will give a lackluster first impression and will likely be rejected outright. And in the job interview setting, if you’re late, not dressed appropriately and forget to smile – the interviewer might hold that all against you.
To impress the person who’s essentially judging you in the job search setting, you must create a cover letter that pops and pair it with a tailored resume that gives the info that they’re really looking for. This shows the recruiter that you care, similar to how sending a personalized message to a date would show you care and are making a real effort. Sure, it may take more time to get through your job search if you’re customizing everything (rather than “bulk-applying”), but quality is more important than quality – right?
2. You both have non-negotiables (or “must-haves”)
If you’re looking for love, odds are you’ve got a short list of characteristics that your ideal mate should have….as well as a list of traits you hope they don’t have!
The same holds true for job searching: You have your dream list of what you want in a job, as well as lessons learned from past work experiences that you hope to avoid this time. Potential employers have their own non-negotiables, too. The salary may be capped for the position, or there may be a hard line on skills requirements, years of experience in a given field, or personality traits required for new hires.
Just as with dating, the non-negotiables are always there for a reason. During the interview, see how the employer might meet your needs and avoid your dislikes. If you settle for an employer who doesn’t offer what you need then you’re essentially settling – which then means the position will likely be temporary!
3. You’re not owed an answer
Time for some harsh truth: In dating, no one owes you an answer as to why they don’t want to go out again. And in hiring, no employer owes you an answer as to why they passed on your candidacy.
This can sting, especially if you made it through first-round interviews. Try not to take the rejection personally and don’t let it affect your commitment to your job search.
If you were interviewed and were not offered the job, reach out to the hiring manager. It never hurts to ask why they went with another candidate (tip: ask once, and with the understanding that no answer is required – and any information provided is done so with your best interests at heart). You may be able to learn something that can help you improve your performance for the next interview.
4. You’ll just “know”
With job hunting and dating, you will know when the fit is right.
This is frustrating advice when you’re striking out, but it helps you keep perspective through the ups and downs of the job search.
Do your research before every interview, but trust your gut during the process. It’s natural to feel nervous during an interview, but if you get the sense that an environment is not what you are looking for, listen to that inner sense. When the fit is right, the employer will recognize and honor your skills and abilities. You will feel excited to join the company and inspired to contribute your skills to their mission.
Important side note: While there are similarities between your work life and romantic life, office romance should be avoided! It can get messy if the relationship sours, and workplace romances may be prohibited under corporate policies.