by Blair Peters, Career Counselor
Valentine’s Day can be polarizing. Some lean into the sweetness, while others find the pink-and-red everything to be a bit excessive. Regardless of how you feel, the quest for love shares many similarities with the job search. You have your own set of skills, experiences, and interests, and you’re trying to find a place where you can be appreciated. Whether that’s with another person or a company, it’s all about compatibility.
Read on to see how you can become your own Corporate Cupid, and make sure you’re giving your job search the TLC it deserves.
What Dating Can Teach You About the Job Search
The job search can take months of serious dedication. It’s rarely as easy as hitting your dream company with a love arrow. However, you might be surprised at what the dating realm can teach you about finding a job that’s right for you. Nervousness, confusion, and elation: it all comes with the territory, and there are ways to handle each one.
The Poison Arrow
In the search for love: Your partner has ended your relationship, leaving you crushed.
In the search for employment: Your company has sent you a layoff letter. Phrases like “we regret taking such actions” or “we appreciate your years of service” might as well be the professional equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me”: hardly any consolation in the moment.
Your emotional response: It’s normal to feel a sense of anger, alarm, or even grief in the aftermath of being laid off. Many people view their occupation as a key component of their identity, and to have it stripped away can trigger a similar response as when a romantic relationship ends.
Warning! While a newly-single person might be tempted to rush into the arms of a new companion, their motivations could have more to do with numbing the pain of loss than beginning a healthy relationship for the right reasons. In the same way, there is often a stigma attached to unemployment that could make you eager to accept any position before word spreads about your bad luck. However, taking a job you’re uncertain about could lead to trouble down the road.
Your solution: Sensibility during unemployment is a must. Don’t let desperation lead you into a poor match. Assess your current situation and be diligent about pursuing your goals throughout your job search. Jobs and relationships take up huge chunks of our time and energy, so they should be pursued thoughtfully.
Missing the Mark
In the search for love: You set up an online dating profile and send out some messages to potential dates – and get no responses.
In the search for employment: You apply online for dozens of positions, but no employers are contacting you. The only activity you get after submitting a resume is a routine confirmation email.
Your emotional response: Marketing yourself, whether in dating or job seeking, can lead to self-doubt and frustration at times. You feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort, and you have the right attitude – why the lack of results?
Warning! Don’t email the same resume and generic cover letter to hundreds of companies. This tactic is common in online dating as well, but an inbox full of common “Hey, how’s it going” messages makes the recipient wonder if people even bothered to read about their interests at all. Putting forth minimal effort is tempting to do when everything is a click or a keystroke away, but employers want to know that you’ve taken the time to research their company first.
Your solution: Quality over quantity is still the name of the game: tailor your resumes and cover letters for every single job you apply for. And don’t forget to troubleshoot your online presence. Look at your LinkedIn profile (if you have one) like a dating profile. Is your picture clear, simple, and professional? Is your information concise, and does it represent you accurately? Have you included the right keywords? Follow spelling and grammar rules, also.
In the search for love: You’ve had a series of first dates with interesting people where the conversation was flowing, but the contact ended after that.
In the search for employment: You’ve been getting interview after interview. You’ve answered “What’s your greatest weakness?” and talked about your background more times than you can count. Then you don’t hear anything, or later learn that they’ve decided to go another direction.
Your emotional response: You’re feeling confused and rejected. You felt that you interviewed well, and you were enthusiastic about the company. Where did things go wrong?
Warning! Keep in mind that the decision may have been based on a factor that’s out of your control, and sometimes you just aren’t the right fit. This is certainly discouraging, but unfortunately there’s only so much you can do.
Your solution: Think of what’s in your control, and try to fix it. Consider how you come off in interviews. Are you prepared, yet still approachable? Have you thought about how you’ll respond to some of the more challenging questions? You want to be a positive, qualified person that the hiring manager will want to have in their office, just like a date would want to see you again.
Hitting the Target
In the search for love: You’ve just started a new relationship.
In the search for employment: Congratulations – you’re hired!
Your emotional response: You’re optimistic about the future, and are beginning to get comfortable in your new position.
Warning! While this is an exciting time that brings new experiences, the “honeymoon” will undoubtedly end and you may become stagnant.
Your solution: Now is the time to give yourself a boost in order to guarantee your future success. Continue any self-study you began during your unemployment, and be willing to go the extra mile to solve a problem or pick up a new skill. You want to demonstrate to your new boss that you’re serious about continuing to improve yourself professionally.
Plenty of Fish in the Sea!
When you’re dating, it’s rare that the right person shows up right away. With job searching, it can be just as long of a process with keeping your spirits up, sending out resumes, networking, and preparing as best as you can for every interview. But just as a period of being single can teach you things about yourself and give you time for other hobbies, your time being unemployed can reorient you and make that partnership with a new company that much sweeter when you find it.