How Job Hunting is Exactly Like Dating (and Why This Terrifies Me)

Submitted, for your consideration:

The wine is what tells us this is a date, not an interview. Unless, of course, it’s a dinner interview and the interviewee has just made a horrible mistake. Or it’s an interview for a wine company.

You’ve decided you want to enter into a new relationship. Your old one wasn’t working out, or perhaps you’ve decided you have gone too long without one. Maybe you’ve worked out the things that made you go on a relationship hiatus–maybe you had some things to learn before you could show your potential partner that you were ready and could contribute to creating the best possible relationship for the both of you.

So you do the things you know to do to “put yourself out there.” You ask friends whose relationships you admire do they know of anyone looking for a relationship with someone like you, and could they possibly put a good word in for you.

You attend mixers and meetings where you can nosh with others who are looking for relationships.

You go online and fill out one (or several) of those extensive surveys that will detail your interests and try to assess your character. You put up your most attractive picture, and try to be your most clever self.

And you wait.

Maybe I’m talking about men.

Maybe I’m talking about graduating college and looking for a job.

I am terrible at dating, and so I’ve decided to take a hiatus while all that sorts itself out. Little did I know my job hunt would land me smack in the middle of a high-stakes dating game, one that I cannot simply opt out of because, lets face it, I’m 24–it’s about time I entered into a serious, long-term, mutually beneficial professional relationship.

I first noticed the parallels between the job game and the dating game as I began going on interviews. Buying a new outfit, fretting over how to fix my natural hair, “what am I going to say?” “What are they going to ask?” “What if they don’t like me?” “How long should I wait to call?” “Should I let them make the first move?” “Why haven’t they called–I thought we had a great time together!”

Dating.

And I have composed several posts about my ineptitude at dating. First of all, I have terrible taste. My desire for a relationship sometimes drives me to feel like I don’t have the option to choose the best one for me–that I should just lock down the first willing dude I encounter.

How much more relevant is that line of thought in the job game? I’ve recently started encountering articles that encourage job seekers to decide whether or not a job will line up with their ultimate goals and if not, save everyone a headache by passing over it.

In the immortal words of my mother, “In this economy?!”

The need for the relationship superseding the idea of options leads to a disastrous relationship for all.

Second of all, I get terribly nervous in situations where it is of the utmost importance that I put my best foot forward.

Confidence is attractive, and this is true whether you’re across the dinner table from someone who you think is awesome and gorgeous or at the head of a conference table. Either scenario involves people asking you questions about your values, past projects, successes and failures, and in either scenario (in my mind) giving the right answers will determine whether these people will either invite you to or bar you from the relationship of your dreams.

The thing is, I am pretty confident with my work (we’ll not touch confidence in dating. I think the need for a break says it all). I went to school, got in good with the heads of my departments, have glowing recommendations from all my previous professors and employers and (if I do say so myself) have a great deal of genuine talent mixed with the work ethic of someone who needs be involved in something meaningful and see positive results achieved to feel normal.

(^^again, with the normalcy thing).

But if you put me in a situation and tell me “OK. This is it. THIS IS ALL OF YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS AND EVERYTHING YOU’VE BEEN WORKING FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE AND IT’S ALL WITHIN YOUR GRASP, PROVIDED YOU:

1) Dress appropriately
2) Make strangers like you
3) Are the best of everybody
4) Don’t make any mistakes
5) Get there 15 minutes early
6) Project confidence
7) Don’t smell like anything at all
8) Don’t accept a drink, or maybe do.
9) Don’t have clammy hands
10) Don’t have a limp handshake
11) Don’t do anything on the Internet or in your personal life that might offend anyone.

…and I start to get a little nervous. I start to shake a little, and I’m kind of a nervous sweater so then I know my hands are clammy and then I know that’s bad which makes me more nervous so I sweat more…

…this pretty much parallels the way I clam up around any man who I might actually find interesting (not that it matters because, as I said before, I have terrible taste in men).

Anyway, this post is now 800 words long. Sorry guys.

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2 responses to “How Job Hunting is Exactly Like Dating (and Why This Terrifies Me)

  1. Dear Ms. Bryoneyh,
    Mother Hen here.
    Ah, yes, the days of being a single, jobless chick! You have Mother H’s sympathies.
    Better yet though, you also have her words of wisdom! You never know what can happen with a typing chicken on your side!
    While putting one’s best claw forward, in both dating and job-hunting, is a positive move, one has to ensure that it is in fact YOUR claw that is out there.
    What MH means is that everyone will be happiest with one another if in fact the person on the dating site/interview bears a striking resemblance to the chick in the mirror. Sincerity is your friend, my dear, in both cases.
    You will not only be at your most confident when you know that the person you are meeting/the job you are seeking is suited to you, but you will also have increased your chances of success by concentrating your efforts where you will be best suited.
    Mother Hen has seen too many couples trying so hard to please each other initially that one day they wake up, look at one another, and say, “Who on earth are you?” Obviously, this is not an arrangement that makes for a happy coop!
    Similarly, even if your interviewer does not sniff out the distinctive scent of someone trying to be a person they are not (an odor not unlike the scent of a wolf in sheep’s clothing), if you actually manage to be hired, you are unlikely to last in the position, since everyone concerned will be miserable.
    Yes, yes, Mother knows, these dreadful times — one cannot afford to be choosy, blah, blah, blah! However, it has been MH’s observation that Farmer Brown is more likely to shoot a fox when he actually aims at the dang thing with a bullet, rather than randomly sprays the area with buckshot.
    Determine what you truly want, what (or who) honestly suits you, and then you can be free to be yourself. That will make you a smart, confident chick (rather than a silly goose) who is not simply anxious to please, but who knows she has a lot to offer the person on the other side of the table.
    Confidently yours,
    Mother Hen
    http://motherhensnest.wordpress.com

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