Valentine’s and Interviews, What’s the Connection?
Job Interviews and Dating
By Heather Dugan, Salary.com
At first glance, dating and job interviews don’t seem to have much in common. But as I was writing “Date Like a Grownup: Anecdotes, Admissions of Guilt & Advice Between Friends,” I began noticing missteps common to both endeavors.
Are you coming off as desperate? Bad-mouthing an ex? Turns out there’s a lot job seekers can learn from going on first dates and online dating in general. So when you’re headed to see the hiring manager, remember these hard-learned lessons from the front lines of dating.
9. Don’t Be Desperate
The most common cause of poor dating choices is loneliness and the fear of being alone. An empty space on Friday night’s calendar leads many to pick anybody over nobody at all, starting downward spirals that lead to even lonelier places.
Similarly, the first instinct of the newly unemployed is to do a panic grab towards any position that might fill that 8-5, Monday-Friday space in their workweek. Better to breathe first, assess second and then make strategic moves. Desperation repels. Cloudy thinking will waste time, energy and opportunity. Rather than react, make a thoughtful choice.
8. Don’t Be Irrelevant
One of the biggest hindrances for the newly single is navigating changes in the dating landscape. If the previous relationship was of significant length, they must contend with the new phenomenon of “social obsolescence” and actively upgrade their connection skills.
Similarly, the unemployed must advance their professional skills to compete in a job market with openings for only forty percent of active seekers. Come-from-behind victories are hard work — better to stay well versed on industry trends and to keep your professional/social connections active and solid.
7. Don’t Dwell on Shortcomings
You want to stand out? Be you. A vague or overly general self-assessment guarantees you’ll blend in, but wallflowers are last to dance and slow to be hired. You can’t have every skill. While highly desirable, that would be equally unbelievable. So instead, be specific about where and how you excel.
On dating sites, this translates into profiles that display genuine personality. On a resume, that means focusing on your “star quality” attributes, and showcasing those top talents to fit the job to which you’re applying.
Face-to-face? Don’t apologize for your lack of managerial experience. Instead, draw attention to your creative initiative.
6. Don’t Wear Rose-colored Glasses
If you start dating someone who is constantly traveling on business, then you can’t get mad down the road when you’re unfulfilled. And if your date asked for bail money the first time you talked but you didn’t heed the warning sign, that’s on you.
This kind of wishful thinking and seeing only what we want to see can lead to interviews at companies with negative histories, into too-good-to-be-true scenarios, and other employment situations in which perception doesn’t match reality.
Do a little research online and within your network so you can lead with your head instead of your heart.
5. Don’t Compromise Too Much
A little flexibility is good but know when to hold firm. What can you live with? What can’t you live without? Too much pliability is a set-up for failure.
Some singles are so eager for coupledom, they’ll load up on Benadryl to welcome the allergy-inducing cat. But reality and resentment are great levelers. Better to be real, both in love and in your job search.
If this job is only about money, think long and hard. Do you see a job or a career path? Is it more of a stepping-stone to something better and less of an ideal, long term match? Plan accordingly.
4. Don’t Go It Alone
You’re going to do this alone? Seriously? Don’t think so.
Adult singles fare poorly compared to those who have a support network to yank them back from emotional disasters. Similarly, job seekers who have mentors and supportive colleagues will make better choices and find better opportunities. That big buzzword “networking” is really just about making genuine connections—building your own community that will stand ready to help you.
3. Don’t Be Dishonest
Failure to portray oneself in an accurate and positive light is one of the biggest problems in both online dating and job search.
If you’ve been on a blind date, you’ve likely uttered the phrase “He/She doesn’t look at all like the picture.” Either that shot was taken 10 years ago during better times, or it’s just made up. Likewise, if you embellished your resume, work experience, or skills to the point you could be considered a fake, you’re going to be found out — and summarily dismissed.
It sounds trite, but be yourself. Sure it may not work out because not everyone (or every job) is a good fit, but at least be honest.
2. Don’t Be Selfish
Ever been on a date that’s been completely one-sided, in that the other person won’t stop talking about him/herself long enough to even consider finding out about you? Being so focused on yourself doesn’t lead to many second dates, and the same holds true when it comes to job search.
While it’s essential to spotlight your achievements and general excellence during a job interview, there has to be more than that. Hiring managers will ultimately based their decision not on what you’ve done in the past, but how you fill a crucial company need in the future. That means listening to what the company needs and making a legitimate effort to be of service.
It’s a two-way street.
1. Don’t Be Something You’re Not
Blithely comment, “It’s not you, it’s me” to a roomful of singles and watch the eye rolls. But it’s often true—in both dating and the hiring process.
Being the most skilled financial auditor won’t lift your resume over the moderately qualified actuary applying for a valuation modeling position at a life insurance company. He fits the job, you don’t. And wrong fit jobs lead to unhappy employees, dissatisfied employers and a rapid rewrite of the resume.
Squeezing yourself to fit the wrong job increases your chances of failure, or, even worse, a cycle of short tenure positions. Be real on what each of you offer and require.