For the past several months I’ve been on a full-time job hunt. It’s seemingly what you have to do to have any chance of getting a decent job in the modern economy, economic recovery be damned. I spend about 6-7 hours a day looking through want ads to find jobs that suit me and sending out resumes and cover letters to the handful I find. Somewhere along the way, I came to realize that this process is exactly like trying to find someone to date.
It’s all about looks. With each job, so I’ve been told, you should be tweaking your resume and writing a tailored cover letter to show an employer that you’re the employee of their dreams. This isn’t wholly unlike the way people try to put their best foot forward when meeting someone they’re interested in. That said, a lot of people take this one step further and change who they are, pretend to be someone they’re not or outright lie to try to get a person or job they’re interested in. The only difference is that if you’re able to get a job by doing this, you’ll lose it once they realize you’re full of crap. With dating, however, most people accept that they wont get to really know who the other person is until a few months in.
Why you’re on the market really matters. When it comes to me and this job search, I can say that I ‘broke up’ with my last job, which is better than getting ‘dumped,’ just in terms of mindset. But at the end of the day, and just like with dating, it still leaves you in the same place: on the market and looking for something new.
The longer you’re on the market the more you start to think about your ex. Sure, you might have left your last job on your own terms, but the longer you go without finding another job the more you’ll start to second guess why you left it in the first place. And just like with being single, you have to actively remind yourself that you left for a good reason and that any fond memories are the predictable rose-colored distortions that come with looking back. If you’re last job dumped you, you’ll start to wonder what you could have done differently.
You have to fight the urge to settle. Whether in the world of dating or employment, the longer you’re on the market the more pressure you start to put on yourself to just take whatever comes your way. But you have to fight that feeling. Sure you could head down the street and pick up a shift at KFC tomorrow, but in the long run you’d be as happy with that decision as you’d be if you started dating an 18 year old with a face tattoo.
Everybody with a job, just like everyone in a relationship, will have an endless amount of advice for you. Don’t get me wrong, good advice can be a great thing. But an endless stream of contradictory advice can drive you crazy. “Getting a good job is all about the cover letter.” “I do the hiring for my company, and I don’t read cover letters.”
Just like with a promising relationship, when a job prospect starts to look real, you’ll freak out a little. Sure, you really want a job. It’s all you’ve been thinking about. But once a job starts to show some interest in you and you have to think about it as more than just a hypothetical, you’ll start to ask yourself if this is really the right job for you.
Some employers, just like some singles, make you jump through way too many hoops. You know what I love? I love when you spend countless hours getting the formatting on your resume just right only to apply for a job where they want you to fill in an online form. Have they never heard of letting people attach a file? The jobs that make you do this are usually the same ones that want to know the address of every school you’ve attended going back to high school. This is like trying to get a date with a person who never has time, but never completely blows you off. They have no problem taking up your time texting with you, but never has time to meet up. Stop wasting my time. You’re not worth the effort!
You’ll lose all interest in flirting and want to cut straight to the chase. Sometimes reading a job description can be just like meeting someone awesome at a bar. Everything starts out great. You have a ton in common. You care about the same things and have the same priorities in life. But then the conversation ends just like that because it turns out that they’re only interested in people who can speak Mandarin. Be it a job or a love interest, you’ll be left wondering why, if they had such a specific fetish, didn’t they lead off with that and save you the time?
Sometimes you’ll feel jealous of people who have what you want. If you’ve been single, there’s no doubt there’s been times when you’ve seen a happy-looking couple holding hands and wished you were doing the same. Well, the same goes when you hear your friends talk about work. But it’s easy enough to snap yourself out of those jealous feelings when you remember that most of them hate their jobs (and their relationships), but are just too scared to leave it for the unknown.
Your friends are your best bet at happiness. I don’t know what the stats are on successful relationships starting from friends matchmaking, but I know I’ve always enjoyed meeting a girl that way. I also know that about 75% of jobs in this country are given out on the basis of personal connections and recommendations. In other words, if any of my friends are reading this, set me up on a date and an interview. Please!