Job searching is a lot like dating. Dating is a lot like job searching. For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the similarities between the two, and why success in one area sometimes does not entail success in the other.
I wondered if the lessons learned in one arena could help those struggling in the other, the idea being that perhaps if you applied the same lessons from one area to another, you should see similar successes in both.
There are certain standards, values and principles that I hold in high esteem in both my personal and professional life – honesty, integrity, respect, and perseverance among them. But sometimes it’s hard to see how these standards are being breached until translated into another context or seen in a different light. I’ve come to learn that most of the principles and lessons I’ve gleaned from job searching can be applied to my personal life.
A lot of my employment questions have clearly been answered by asking myself, “If this employer were a guy, would I allow this behavior?” Likewise, I have found it helpful to ask myself, “If this guy were an employer, would I allow myself to be treated like this?” By thinking this way, often the problems (and solutions) are easier to spot.
Mind you, a relationship is not exactly like a job, but there are many similarities.
The same way I wouldn’t run after a man after he’s shown me that he is not interested, why would I run after a job or an employer if they are ambivalent about my candidacy? I’ve learned to remain strong and confident in what I have to offer, knowing that the right person – employer or man – would recognize my assets and be more than happy to have me.
Just like I don’t sit beside the phone waiting for a man to call, I’ve learnt not to sit beside the phone waiting for an employer to call. I go out and live my life. There are things to do and people to see.
Here are some other lessons I have learned:
You need to be ready
I used to have a lot of angst (or at least more than I have now) about dating when I was a teenager and in my early-twenties. It seemed like everyone around me was dating and I felt that I probably should too but I didn’t want to and I wasn’t interested and there was no one who I found interesting and no one who found me interesting and thus I felt like something was wrong with me. This dissonance caused a lot of anxiety. Likewise, when you are unemployed, on one hand you may feel like you really should be looking for a job at every moment because you can’t afford the luxury to take a break but on the other hand you may not really feel like looking for a job that day or for a while.
You need to be in a job-search mindset in order to look for a job most effectively. If you are feeling anxious and not in the right head space, I’ve learned that it is best to take a break and return to your job search later.
Take Care of You
The search for a partner or a job can take a toll on your finances and your health (especially your mental health). You may be prone to depression and shame and feelings of inadequacy. It is important to take care of you, and even pull back if need be.
It is important to be yourself while dating and at the interview. They already think you are interesting – that’s why they asked you out on a date/for an interview.
Take it One Step at a Time
When I was job searching, I used to think that my sole and principal objective was to get a job, but I soon realized that when I apply for jobs, the first objective should be 1) to get an interview, and at the interview, the objective is to 2) get the job. Likewise, I wonder if this is helpful in dating – the sole or most paramount objective is not to get married (although it is an overarching, ultimate goal). The first objective is to meet the person and see if they are interesting. During the date, your objective is to see if the person is worth getting to know better. Thinking this way decreases the pressure and makes the task more manageable.
Block Out Outside Pressure
There may be a lot of pressure to find a man or find a job. You may be catching a lot of heat from your parents or loved ones. However, pressure seldom helps one to be the calm, cool, and collected person you need to be to get what you want. Don’t go into the interview or “man-hunt” stressed and desperate, putting unnecessary pressure on yourself and thinking “Oh gosh — I really need to get this job or else I don’t know what I will do” or “I really need to get married; this is my last hope… this has to be it.” You’ll give off the wrong vibes.
It’s a Two-Way Street
Just because someone – a man or an employer – is interested in you, if you are not interested in them, you can say “no.” It’s unfair not to.
They choose you and you choose them. There ought to be no passivity, no one-sided decision making, no “I’m just so happy to be here and I just really appreciate the opportunity and I’m just so darn lucky they called me and I really hope they choose me.” There needs to be some sort of self-interest — “Is this what I want?” It’s not only about “What can they offer me?” It’s also “What can I offer this company? What can I offer this person? What can I do for them to make this company or this person’s life better?” Know what you have to offer.
Know your criteria and don’t take the first job or person if they don’t suit your criteria (despite what other people say about your criteria)
may should have standards for the type of job you want regarding length of commute, salary, etc. Likewise, you may have standards for the type of partner you want. Inevitably, people around you will say that you need to bend your standards: “Why are you looking for a shorter commute? So and so travels 2 hours to get to work and they’re fine. 1 hour on the TTC is nothing,” or “Your standards are too high,” or “You’re too picky,” or “You need to settle for this for now.” No. You can say no. You can afford to wait for another opportunity/person. Compromise is OK only if the job works for you.
I regard men who spontaneously give me their number and people who offer me jobs out of the blue with equal suspicion
I’ve had both situations happen to me often enough and no — I’m not actually going to call you even though you chatted me up and gave me your number and no, I’m not going to take your random job offer. People can’t just walk up to me and offer me a job for which I haven’t applied. They don’t know me. That reeks of suspicion. Yes – you may hear the odd story about how this is how so and so met their husband and they have been married for umpteenth years, yada, yada, yada. Yeah…no. This is how many girls have been tricked and kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. I like my life. I care about my body and my wellbeing. So no.
Let People Know You are Looking
You must be visible. Show people – neighbours, family and friends — that you are motivated and ready and someone is bound to call you or introduce you to someone. Don’t be afraid to broadcast that you are looking. It can be helpful, if not now, later – people go on mat leave, names come to mind later, people break up, divorce, die… maybe they were in a relationship at the time but they are available now…etc.
Body Language is Important
Watch your own body language in an interview, and to gauge their interest, pay attention to the other person’s body language on a date.
Maintain Your Dignity
I try to stay away from places that try to make me feel lucky that I am there or happy that I was chosen as well as positions where I have to grovel and ingratiate myself. I stay away from men like that too. You are not desperate. You can afford to wait for the right position or partner (even when it doesn’t look like it or your circumstances try to convince you otherwise). If you act from a place of desperation, you will allow things, people and job experiences into your life that you don’t want and have no business dealing with.
Go After What You Want
Don’t apply for jobs or incite the interest of men you really don’t want. Don’t lead people on if you’re not interested in them. Apply for the jobs you actually do want. Engage with men you actually want. It’s okay to say no to what you don’t want and say yes to what you do.
They Will Let You Know Where You Stand
Your boss will typically let you know where you stand with them (if they will hire you, performance evaluations, etc.), as should any interested suitor (I’m not suggesting that your partner give you a performance evaluation, however…).
The best interviews/dates don’t feel like interviews/dates
The best dates and interviews happen when you can go from a question-answer format to having a pleasant conversation between two interested individuals.
If someone is truly interested in you, they will call you
They will let you know, whether it is a person or a job. They won’t let you get scooped up by anyone else. Like I mentioned above, there is no waiting by the phone. There is little “I wonder what is going on.” In a job search setting, there is little to no ambiguity if an employer is interested in hiring you. They will let you know. They – a potential partner or a future employer – will find a way for you to be a part of their company or their life, even if they don’t have a position for you or they are not “ready.”
If someone is interested in you, they will want to see you
Your love interest will go beyond texts and messages on social media and actually schedule a time to meet with you (notice I didn’t say “hang out”). Your employer will go beyond e-mails and call you for an interview or will want to see you at work in their company.
A Good Partner/Employer will Care about the Whole Person
A good suitor or an accommodating employer will care about the whole you. They will care about your family, your children and your wellbeing and they wouldn’t hold you at fault for putting these things and people first. They will care about your health and encourage you to be your best self. They will be flexible. They will be accommodating. They will care about your safety. They will allow – encourage! – you to participate in extra-curricular activities as opposed to spending all of your free time with them. You want someone and you want to work for someone understanding. They won’t be interested in only one part of you – your work product (if it’s your employer) or your vagina (if it’s a guy). On that note:
They Pay You What You are Worth
They don’t expect free labour or sex without the consequence of commitment. There is no “why buy the cow if you can get the milk free” because they won’t allow you to give away free milk. There is no “they’re getting stuff from me and yet I’m not getting anything in return.” Now I know — a relationship is not a transaction in the same sense that a job is. However, you are one complete indivisible package. “It’s all of me or none of me.” Your vagina is not sold separately (of course, you wouldn’t say that to your boss though…)
What other lessons has dating or job searching taught you?