Job hunting is more like dating than dating is. The dating scene has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades, but job hunting really hasn’t, even though arguably it should have.
You meet someone new. Do they like you? Do you like them? What should you wear the first time you go out? Is there something in your teeth? What are you going to talk about? At what point do you DTR (define the relationship)? Are you exclusive? That’s about it. If you’re both feeling it, then you simply start talking and spending time together a lot more often.
You find out about a possible new job. Are you qualified?
Have you spent a minimum of three hours on the application, cover letter, updating your resume, and having at least two people check it for errors?
What’s the dress code? How long will your commute be? What hours are you expected to work… really? (Work/life balance, my left foot. *scoff*)
How many layers of interviews are there going to be? Phone screen? First interview? Second interview? Panel interview?
How long are they going to drag out the hiring process? Four months from application to start date??
Dude, I was sharing an apartment with my first husband sooner than that.
My husband occasionally gets calls from recruiters and headhunters. Sometimes these calls refer to jobs that he applied for up to a year in the past. Here he is, merrily working away, and someone’s human resources department genuinely thinks he would still be sitting around unemployed for a year? Sad but true.
The main difference between dating and job hunting is that in romance, people understand that their needs don’t always line up. Maybe one of them wants kids and the other doesn’t, or one wants to travel and see the world while the other is a homebody. Maybe one person meets someone else. It’s okay. Go in peace, love.
In the world of employment, only one type of relationship is okay, and that’s FULL TIME OR NOTHING. You can’t go in saying, Sure, I’ll work for you, but I’m taking six weeks of vacation a year. Or, Sure, I like the sound of this job but how about a 32-hour week?
It’s like you have to decide on your very first date whether you want to get married or not!
It’s also like your date is the only one who gets an opinion.
Employers seem to want candidates who are both highly desirable and yet somehow highly needy. They’d rather leave a position unfilled for six months than feel like they are lowering the bar in any way.
But what if nobody in the history of the world has ever had that precise package of qualifications?
Let me compare two job listings I’ve seen in the past three months. Both were titled ‘Executive Assistant.’ One paid $38,000 a year and the other paid $150,000 plus bonus. The lower-paid version had a much longer list of requirements and supported a much larger staff. Did you, ah, forget a ‘one’ in the front of that salary range??
The attitude that an employer wants to see is, I respectfully beg for the opportunity to please come work for you. I understand that it is gauche to ask about pay or benefits. I promise to come in early and leave late every day, skip breaks, take a short lunch or eat over my keyboard, never get sick, choose you over every single member of my family no matter what, and never use my vacation time. Oh, did I say “my” vacation time? My bad!
Imagine going on a date with that kind of vibe. “Please may I have the privilege of having a conversation with you?” Barf.
Dating has the aura of choice around it. It’s a mutual admiration society. Both parties find each other attractive and interesting.
Employment should be like that, too, so why isn’t it?
When I pay my rent every month, I understand that I don’t get to live there for free just because I like the view. My landlord understands that he doesn’t get to cash our checks just because he’s a great guy (which he is). It’s a mutually beneficial contract. HE gets the money and WE get to live in the apartment.
A job is the same. Nobody is working there for free. THEY get the benefit of our brainpower and mental bandwidth and work ethic, and WE get the paycheck and benefits. Because it is a financial arrangement, it is perfectly fair and legitimate that we may leave to pursue greater challenges for better benefits and more pay.
Or are you trying to tell me that you do not in fact want an ambitious, driven candidate whose work ethic is an integral part of their identity? Whose self-image is largely built around how good they are at their job?
Most people quit managers, not jobs. Some quit businesses, though. I’ve known several people (and in fact I’ve been one) who quit because they were tormented by what they felt were unethical demands built into their employer’s business model. This is going to become more and more common, from both ends of the teeter-totter.
On the one hand, the bar to entry is so much lower and employment is so high that good employees can either start their own businesses or easily find new jobs.
On the other hand, so many companies are built around toxic culture and extractive or unethical business models that only the desperate will work there. They’ll be embarrassed to admit it, too.
Only a person who is at a low ebb in life will stay in a dysfunctional relationship. Likewise, only someone who feels like they have no better options will stay in a cruddy job with a bad boss.
People take pride in what they do, and they like to brag about how good they are at their jobs. Everyone starts out a new job filled with excitement at how great it’s going to be. There are few feelings as good as the feeling that you’ve been HIRED and you’re going to do a great job! Companies would do well to encourage this feeling and make sure their candidates all continue to feel that the relationship is healthy, solid, and good for the long term.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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