Job Interviewing and Dating: The Hopeful Similarities

Earlier this year, I did a bit of career soul-searching. I decided it was time for me to step up the ladder and change my professional scenery. I polished up my resume and re-entered the world of job searching, networking and interviewing. I lived in this world extensively for a couple of months, doing phone interviews, networking meetings, first, second and third interviews with a handful of different people and a handful of different companies. I got high hopes, I got disappointed, I got discouraged, and then eventually, I got an awesome job offer.

During that process, I kept relating my job hunting and interviewing experience to something else that felt oddly familiar:  dating.

It’s certain that everyone’s job searching and dating experiences are different, but for those who have been on a number of dates and a number of interviews,  you know there are some undeniable aspects between the two that are comically alike. 

Although I personally haven’t meshed well with the online dating scene (I met my boyfriend on a TTC bus, I’m as old school as you can get) I have tried it, and since it’s the single most common method of dating these days, I will be using online dating as the general comparative.

Updating your resume: Creating your online dating profile

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I feel like this is something we all dread, but we know it’s the first step to take if we want changes, and ultimately, results. I know, I know. How many other synonyms can you use for “manage” and do you really need to cater you resume to each job posting you’re applying for? Yes, you do. And yes, you have to write a quippy blurb about yourself to feature under your best profile picture of your trip to Machu Picchu. Maybe you feel a bit lame and maybe you feel a little narcissistic, but you do it anyway because you have to sell yourself and stand out amongst a pool of other eligible candidates.

Job searching: Scoping out the scene

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Now that your manicured resume is updated, it’s time to see what’s out there and show yourself to the world hoping you’ll catch someone’s attention. You start browsing potentials and you see what comes up. You scroll, swipe, click. You read through the description, check out the company website, and if they seem interesting, you make your move. You introduce yourself, you compliment them, you highlight your common interests and you show how excited you are to meet them. After re-reading your message for the fifth time, you exhilaratingly hit send, and sit back with your wine, confident they can’t resist your charm and outstanding credentials. 

Waiting for a job application response: Waiting for someone to message you or answer you

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You might hear nothing but crickets for a while. You might even receive questionable messages in the form of inappropriate advances or scam job postings. Don’t let that discourage you. You tell yourself that this process takes time and that you just need to be patient. You go about doing your usual routine but deep down you’re hoping, wishing, dreaming that one day, someone will be interested in you…

Getting an interview: Being asked out on a date

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SOMEONE IS INTERESTED IN YOU! Your self-esteem shoots through the roof and you are stoked that someone thinks you may be a good fit for them. You text your squad about it and everyone wishes you good luck, some may even go as far as saying that this “may be the one”. You try to keep your expectations at a realistic low…but secretly you also wonder if it will be the one.

Choosing your interview outfit: Choosing your first date outfit

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There’s a lot to take into consideration here. What kind of industry are you interviewing for, i.e. what kind of date are you going on? Is it a creative agency or a corporate office, i.e. jeans and t-shirt kind of date or black dress and heels kind of date? For women, this part can be a little more dreading if you decide to wear a skirt or V-neck blouse. It can’t be too short, or too tight or too low cut because you want to remain professional, i.e. you don’t want to seem too promiscuous on your first date. But you also don’t want to wear a matronly boring outfit either that makes you feel too stiff. Finally, after exhaustively trying on six different outfits, three pairs of shoes and four statement necklaces, you decide on a classic piece but add a little something colourful to reflect your personality. And now to put away all your clothes piled up on your bed….

The interview: The first date

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As your Uber pulls closer to your destination, you can’t stop tapping your feet nervously, you check yourself in the mirror twelve times, re-apply your lipstick, make sure it didn’t smear on your teeth, and you pop a mint hoping your breath stays fresh for the entire time you will be talking. Then you suddenly imagine yourself tripping and falling as you reach out to shake their hand but you immediately snap yourself out of it. You tell yourself you’ll kick ass and you take a deep breath. Here goes! You greet yourselves with a big smile, they mis-pronounce your name, you correct them, they apologize, you make a joke about your own name, they laugh and the ice is broken. The conversation is going smoothly and the eye contact is consistent. They ask you questions, you ask questions, you tell stories, they tell stories, they nod and agree with you, they laugh at your jokes and you laugh at theirs. You suddenly feel like something could happen here. As it wraps up, you both say how great it was to meet each other and you’re told they will call you.

Bad interview: Bad first date

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The misconception we often make about interviewing and dating is that we think that we should be the ones impressing the other person, and we tend to believe it’s up to them to choose us. But the reality is that it goes both ways. You should also be picking up the vibes from them and asking yourself if it’s truly want you want when you actually meet them. If you’re getting a bad feeling, listen to yourself. When your interviewer gazes outside the window behind you when you’re talking, if they’re distractingly checking their phone (yes, this happened at an interview), if there are too many awkward silences and if you just know they aren’t even listening to you, you’re basically on a bad date. This is the time for both parties to show their best impression, and if it’s a major flop on their end, then it’s a pretty clear indication that this is as good as it gets. When it’s finally over, you shake hands, say it was great meeting even though you both know that’s a lie, and they say they will call you even though you also both know that’s a lie. You text your friend who works around the corner to meet so you can discouragingly vent over wine about how horrible it went and how you feel like you’re never going to find what you’re looking for.

Waiting for the interview call back: Waiting for the first date call back/text

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If it went well, this is the anxiety driven stage. You check your phone every four seconds and every ding your phone makes has your heart making high flips, hoping it’s them, only to flop back down when it’s just another Anthropologie e-newsletter. You keep refreshing your email, thinking maybe there’s some technical glitch. Nope, no glitch. Still 0 messages. AUGHHH what’s taking them so long? Didn’t they like me? If they liked me they would call, right?! WHY WON’T THEY CALL?!    

Receiving no response after a follow-up: Being ghosted

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So the interview(s) went well and they convincingly said they would call, but it’s been over a week and you haven’t received anything. So you follow-up. You write them a short and sweet message wondering how they’re doing and asking if there’s any updates. A day, three days and another week goes by, and still nothing. You wonder if you should write them another message but hesitate because you don’t want to seem too pushy. Then as you scroll through your LinkedIn newsfeed, you see that they posted something 14 hours ago. What the hell? Clearly they read your message and clearly they’re not that busy if they’re sharing Warren Beatty quotes. It suddenly hits you that you’re being ghosted. You get annoyed that they don’t even have the decency to at least respond to you, but you tell yourself that if that’s how they treat people, then you’re better off without them.

Not getting the job: They chose somebody else

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This part hurts. Especially if you’ve been called in for a second or even third interview that you thought was going well. You feel down, unwanted and even confused. I don’t get it, you tell yourself. We had such a good connection! They seemed so interested in me! What did I do wrong? The answer is you didn’t do anything wrong. At this early in the game, it’s never personal. After all, you only met them a few times, you barely know them and they barely know you and your amazing self. They’ve also met a dozen of other people and chose someone who was most likely a better fit for what they were looking, but it doesn’t mean you were lacking anything. It just means it wasn’t meant to be, and you still being available for other opportunities leaves room for something better to come. 

Being offered a non-negotiable low salary: You know you could do better

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They liked you (of course they would, you’re awesome) and they offered you a job…but the offer is much lower than what you’re worth. It almost feels insulting and you’re starting to wonder if they’re taking advantage of you. If you’re unemployed and you really need a job to sustain yourself, then I understand that being paid a shit salary until you find something better might be better than not being paid at all, but make sure you don’t apply that logic to dating. Continuing to date a mediocre person is absolutely not better than being single. If they bring nothing of substance to the table, if they aren’t the right fit and they don’t value you, turn it down. Know your worth, and know that you deserve better. Bottom line: don’t settle.

You get the job: They want to be with you 

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Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit!! You got the job! Out of all the people they met, they chose you! YOU!! They think you are the best fit and they are committed to being with you for a long time.  You can’t believe it. And what blows your mind the most is that of all people you met, this was the one you wanted the most! And you got it. YOU FUCKING GOT IT! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Job hunting and interviewing is time-consuming and it can take a toll on your self-esteem, the same way that dating does. But in the process, you learn a lot. You learn about people and if you choose to be honest with yourself, you learn a lot about yourself. You learn what attracts you and you learn what you wouldn’t tolerate. And it’s good practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it. And amidst the stress, the uncertainty and the doubts, when you least expect it, something worth exploring comes along, and to your surprise, the feeling is mutual. They also think you’re worth exploring and think you’re worth sticking around for. 

So as you sign your new contract, looking at your new title and new salary, you can’t help but think that the hard work paid off and everything that didn’t work out before were all for a good reason.

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