The Job Search is like Online Dating

by Clayton Hayes, Senior Assistant, INALJ North Dakota

The Job Search is like Online Dating

clayton.hayesTo me, the process of searching for a job is like online dating. Think about it: you search online for something that seems attractive. You delve a little bit deeper to see what kind of person they are, to see who they are and what they’re expecting. Do you fit the criteria that they’ve set out, or do you at least fit it well enough to feel comfortable contacting them? Do they fit your criteria? These are just a few examples of questions that can be applied to both situations.

If you feel that you fit their criteria well enough and that they fit yours well enough, then you try to make contact. You use whatever form of communication is specified by them or by the platform they are using, you gather up everything you want to communicate to them in an attempt to let them know how well you fit their criteria, and you send it out.

And then you wait.

Did they get your message? They probably have gotten lots of messages, maybe they glossed over yours because it didn’t grab them, didn’t stand out. Maybe it was too riddled with spelling or grammatical errors and they threw it out as soon as they saw it. Or maybe you used the wrong tone, were too familiar or too formal. In job searching we have a bit more to go on in these categories than in online dating, but the principle remains the same.

You send out your materials and then you wait, not knowing if or when they’ll read what you wrote, not knowing if they already have someone else picked out. In job searching and in online dating, if you’re doing it right, you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. One profile or one position may seem absolutely perfect, but if that’s the only one you go after, chances are you’re letting a lot of other great options pass you by.

Eventually you start to get messages back. It could be a few or it could be a lot, but either way they are interested in speaking with you. They want to get to know you better, to understand who you are and what exactly drove you to contact them. It is your first opportunity, too, to get to know them a little better. The profiles that are constructed online by an individual or an institution are rarely the whole story, and that is something that’s understood by both parties.

If both parties feel that it’d be worth it, you’ll be able to arrange for a face-to-face meeting. Exchanging messages or talking on the phone are both great forms of communication, but it is far easier to get a good feel for an individual or institution in person. It’s also very important to the other party, as well. Have you dressed appropriately? Are you giving them a good impression of yourself? Are you being pleasant and polite, and do you seem like the sort of person they’d want to spend a significant amount of time with in the future?

It’s important in both online dating and in the job search to remember that it’s unhealthy to tie your self-esteem to your success at either. You’ll probably never know why you don’t get replies to some of your messages, but you shouldn’t start to let that affect your self-worth. There are a whole host of reasons why it might be the case: Your message or your profile didn’t really grab their attention or adequately reflect your personality or qualifications, they had someone else in mind all along, they didn’t actually know what they wanted and had to re-evaluate the information that they were putting out, the list goes on. It is important to stick with it and to understand that, whether in the job search or in online dating, sometimes the timing just isn’t right. The best thing you can do is learn from those experiences, let them go, and move on to the next opportunity.