Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Job Hunting is a lot like Dating

I will admit, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve dated, and even longer since I was going on semi-frequent dates with different people, looking for the right person to date long-term. I have, however, conducted many job searches over the past couple years, and the whole process (which is extremely flawed, but that’s another post altogether), feels a lot like dating.

I did have an online dating profile—briefly—back in college, but it was more as a joke, and I never actually met anyone in person. Today’s job search feels pretty similar to what online dating is like. You create an online profile/image for yourself that potential employers will view and judge you by before they even consider sending you an email or giving you a phone call to potentially set up an interview. In the same way with dating sites and apps, you’re being judged by your picture, your description, your hobbies and interests, and so on.

In the dating world, as with the job search, there are all these “rules”, which seem to constantly change. You want to appear interested, and in a job search, persistent, but you don’t want to come off as desperate or needy—so don’t call or email too often. You should wait a certain amount of time before calling/texting/emailing. I’ve seen varying opinions on whether you should include a cover letter, how long your resume should be (stick to one page, or is more okay?), etc. 

After you speak on the phone, perhaps more than once, you decide to meet in person. You wear your best outfit, try to ask the right questions, and give intriguing, appropriate answers to their questions. You leave the date/interview thinking it went really well. Maybe there will be a second. But even after the first, you're already invested—you've gotten to know them and they’ve gotten to know you; you've gotten a peek at what it would be like to work there/be with them, what the day-to-day might be like, maybe it’s the dream job (or the job that could turn into the dream job—or the person you can picture yourself with long-term…marriage, kids, retirement, etc.). They tell you they’ll be in touch, and if you’re lucky, they give you a specific date.

You wait around, sometimes hearing nothing on the other end. Did you say/do something wrong? Did you have lipstick smudged on your teeth? You wait and wait for the appropriate number of days to pass before it’s deemed acceptable for you to call or email and check in (10-ish business days after an interview, unless they gave you a specific date, in which case, if you don’t hear from them on said date, you should wait another day or two before reaching out so you don’t look too desperate—insert eye-roll emoji here).

Sometimes, you get ghosted. The other person just disappears, ignoring your emails and phone calls. You’re left still wondering what you did wrong, with no feedback as to what you could do to improve (okay, getting feedback from a date might be weird/awkward). Other times, you get the rejection email/text/phone call. “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I met someone else.” “You were a qualified candidate, but we chose a candidate whose skills and qualifications best meet our current needs."

Now you have to deal with that rejection. You’re angry, then sad, maybe even depressed. “What’s wrong with me?” “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” “What am I doing wrong?” It honestly takes some time to get over it, move on, and put yourself back out there, because you had been picturing yourself with that person/company, you had imagined your future together, and with a quick email, all of that is gone. So you have to get over it and move on, and if you’re unemployed, you have to do this more quickly than you might have to in other situations. You have to put yourself back out there and go through it all over again, risk the rejection and heartbreak all over again. Because as the job-seeker, you don’t get to be the cold and distant one who says “It was great to meet with you and we’ll be in touch soon”. It’s expected that you’ll be enthusiastic and eager and show genuine interest each and every time, because potential employers don’t want cold and distant employees.