Valentine’s Day: Why Getting a Job is Just like Dating

With Valentine’s Day coming up, love is in the air. For some people this is a time to celebrate a relationship. For others it’s a time to get drunk with friends and rejoice in singlehood. But very few people will take Valentine’s Day as a chance to think about jobs (sounds scary right?). And yet, when you think of it, finding a job is very much like dating .

So here are our tips about what lessons you can apply from dating to finding a job:

1. First impressions matter
In dating, as in job-hunting, first impression and nuanced signals matter. Think about the last time you went on a first date (especially a blind date!): Did you think about the words/language your date used in his/her email give you some hints about what they were going to be like? Did you google them before going for coffee? How soon after meeting them did you know whether there was a chance this would work?  Online job applications are especially similar to online dating — first impressions start before you even meet, so be sure to think carefully about your online persona.  And once you meet, be sure to impress them — dress right, be on time and show yourself in your best colors, just as you would if you were going on a date.

2. Wooing means pursuing, but also giving space
The art of wooing has been much discussed. Dating experts will tell you to show interest but not be pushy, to do things that stand out and set you apart, to try to understand your date and make them feel special. Much of these rules apply to job-hunting. Perhaps the most common mistake we see job candidates make is trying too hard and being overly pushy for an answer or a follow-up date. Charles V is famous for saying “Fortune has something of the nature of a woman. If she is too intensely wooed, she commonly goes the further away.” The same applies for a job — give the hiring manager the space they need to make the decision. If you’re perceived as trying too hard, you’ll turn them off.

3. Being in high demand is the best incentive for quicker decisions
We all learned this in high school – the best way to get a date with someone you want is to be perceived as going on dates with lots of other people. At risk of losing you to a rival, your prospective date finally takes action. You may not think this is true of job-hunting but exactly the same dynamic applies. A recent candidate had been in the process with an employer for 2 months. She got another offer a told the employer about it. A few days later she had an offer letter. Sound perplexing? No, for employers, knowing that another hiring manager wants to hire you is a boost of confidence and further evidence that you’re the right hire. I’ve seen this hundreds of times. But don’t be tempted to lie as it can backfire too easily and will eventually come back to bite you.

4. Don’t bash your ex
There’s nothing less sexy than talking smack about your ex. Instead of sounding confident and fun, you come across as bitter and hung-up. The same is true of former employers. One of the biggest mistakes candidates make in the interview process is disparaging their former employer. You may think this helps you show interest in the new company or explain why you’re leaving your current role, but the only thing an employer thinks of in that moment is “Oh-oh, these are the things he’ll say about our company when he leaves.” It’s best to keep the conversation positive when discussing your previous jobs. Be honest and factual, answer the questions your hiring manager has, but avoid excessive negativity.

5. Perhaps most importantly, don’t settle
Sometimes, in dating, we are tempted to settle – for a person that doesn’t treat you well, or for a relationship that isn’t great. And this happens with jobs too. Look for a job that you will genuinely enjoy and once you get the offer, make sure not to give yourself away too easily! Make sure you negotiate your offer and understand exactly what terms you’re being hired for. A recent candidate accepted an offer at a company in San Francisco too quickly. She later found out that the position paid less than she needed and that the job description was too junior for her. Before you say “yes,” make sure you understand what you’re getting yourself into. Otherwise the morning after may not be as happy as it could/should be.

Valentines Day reminds us how fun dating and relationships can be. It’s fun to woo and be wooed, it’s fun to meet people and it’s fun to be in a relationship with someone you love and care about. The same is true for job hunting — enjoy the process and make the most of it. You’ve got special skills so find the company that needs what you’ve got and that will appreciate you for what you really are!

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