Is Job-hunting like Dating?

You’ve had the experience of dating in your life, right? Did you enjoy it: the mystery of getting to know a stranger, the thrill of the chase, the risk of rejection, or the challenge of making the right decisions?

Dating is fun for some; job-hunting, not so much. It seems possible that job-hunting could be fun – but that’s not how most of us experience it. We’re too often scared about money, worried about what others will think about us, and anxious about an uncertain future, to engage in opportunity thinking and enjoy serendipitous moments.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that dating for most of us is a means to an end: finding a good relationship. Likewise, nobody really wants to be job-hunting – what we want is to find that paid job that uses our skills and talents.

As my colleagues and I teach job-search skills at JVS, we’re well aware that we’re encouraging people to get good at something they never wanted to do in the first place, and that they hope to stop doing as soon as possible. It’s an odd proposition, teaching people how to job-search: here, get good at doing this so that you can be rewarded by not having to do it anymore!

I asked my JVS colleagues what useful parallels they see between job-hunting and dating, and here are some of their thoughts:

“To find your match, be clear what you’re looking for. The more focused your search is, the more likely you’ll find the best match for you.”

“It’s about rejection, rejection, rejection — and how you handle it. Also, if you can manage your expectations appropriately, it will go a lot better.”

“Job hunting, like dating, is basically a conversation between two people: Do you like me? Do I like you? Do we want to take a chance on going steady?”

“Both activities have the same goal: to make them want more of you.”

“Dating and job-hunting – to do either one well, you’ve got to feel confident and show that you have something to offer. Also, the worst thing you can do is to appear desperate!”

Thanks, colleagues. I imagine we’ll keep thinking up new comparisons – it’s just what you do when your job involves helping job-seekers all day long. In the meantime, this Valentine’s Day, give a rose or a hug to someone who’s dating, or someone who’s job-hunting, or both. It can be a challenging world out there for a seeker…

What’s Your Pitch?

Quick – you’re asked to speak for 30 seconds on what you do. The listener is a stranger, and the meeting could lead to a serendipitous outcome – perhaps an important new connection, assignment or chance to learn. Are you ready? Can you clearly and concisely talk about what’s important to you, and what you’re looking for?

When I work with job seekers in JVS Job Search Strategy workshops, we often discuss the many versions of “the pitch,” such as in a job interview or an imaginary elevator. My favorite scenario for practice is a meeting with a random stranger. How do you talk about yourself and what you do when you meet someone at a party, or in line at the grocery store? Can you speak about what you do in a way that encourages another person to become interested?

I grew up near Hollywood, where “the pitch” is a way of life. This is a crucial skill for job seekers, of course, but what if you’re not looking? Maybe you’re in school, you’re retired, you’re working…Do you need to practice your pitch?

The networker in me says, yes. Yes, we all do. Because being able to talk about what we do – whatever that is – in a way that’s clear, concise and interesting, can lead to great connections and opportunities. It’s not just job hunters who need to have a great network, right? Ideally, we should be able to rely on our network of contacts to get advice, to explore new areas, to do research, and to discover what it is we don’t know that we don’t know. And, in a world where every job is in some sense temporary, even the well-employed among us should be positioned for the next job hunt.

Want to have a great year in 2015? Try this: create a 30-second “pitch” for yourself and what you do – something that you enjoy saying and others enjoy hearing. Practice it in front of a mirror every day. Say it to a stranger whenever you can, and tweak it if you’re not getting positive reactions. Does your “pitch” need to be shorter? Longer? Start differently? End with a request for assistance?

Umm…one suggestion: don’t overdo it. Your “pitch” should be energetic, but not over the top (see video below). As Oscar Wilde said, “be yourself – everyone else is already taken.”

The Elevator Pitch from Simon Ryninks on Vimeo.