6 Things Online Dating Taught Me About Job Interviews
Written by Hillary Kirtland
Many of the skills you learn in online dating are the same (essential) skills you need as a job candidate. At first glance, they may not appear to have much in common, but take a second look and you might find the two are far more related than you think. Here are six ways to use lessons from online dating to make yourself a more successful job candidate:
1. Get them interested
The first thing you create in an online dating application is your profile—essentially, your online resume. The most successful profiles (and resumes) are always the ones that are specific, direct and can give the reader just enough information that it entices them to want to know more. Mine used to say something like:
“I’m slightly awkward. Sometimes nerdy. A little quirky. Interested in all things intellectual. I have an endless bucket list and want to travel anywhere I can. I also have to admit that I’m a closet-hopeless romantic. Leo & ENFP. If I could meet anyone, dead or alive I’d meet Oscar Wilde.”
Admissions like the fact that I’m awkward, love to travel and that I’d choose to meet Oscar Wilde are what led to the best conversation starters I ever had. The people who were interested in getting to know me knew what they were getting into, and I was left with some really sincere and interesting conversations. Imagine how powerful this could be with potential employers.
2. Get to know them
Playing the numbers game may eventually work for some people, but it’s a long, drawn-out process that takes a lot of patience (and heartache) if something is ever going to come of it. You want each interaction to have meaning, and most importantly, real potential. Go all-in and cyberstalk the hell out of all potential future employers. Learn everything you can about them. (I once had a friend go so far into cyberstalking a potential date, that she found the guy’s arrest record, home address, and his parent’s divorce paperwork.) You want to know as much as you can about what you’re getting into, before you get into it. You’ll spend more time with your future boss than you will with your future partner, so this relationship is just as important to obsess over.
3. Don’t be desperate
“I want to cover you in green paint and spank you like a disobedient avocado.” This painfully descriptive sentence was the very first message I ever received on Tinder. It made me cringe. Don’t jump straight from initial interest to assuming you’ve got the offer. Not only had this guy not been offered the “position” yet, we hadn’t even set up the interview. Don’t scare off any future employers by trying to jump into bed with them the minute they show interest. You look desperate—and sometimes, kind of creepy. Take care to conduct yourself in such a way that you get asked back for a second date.
4. Find out what’s next
Imagine sitting at a restaurant across from someone with whom you’ve just finished a date, and not determining whether you should meet up again (or not). Weird, right? Take the time to figure out next steps with a recruiter or hiring manager while you’ve got them in front of you. It’s important to realize that, like a date, you both have power. If you don’t identify who’s making the next move, things may get lost in translation—or forgotten about all together.
5. Follow up after each interaction
Send the well-thought-out and timely “thank you” note. Make it short, sweet, and specific to your interaction. The person on the other side of the interview table is just that—a person. Taking time to recognize them will make sure they keep you top of mind, in the same way the “I had a great time with you last night” text does as well.
6. Leave a good impression
I recently had a friend describe being ghosted by a potential employer. They’d spent months chasing after her, inviting her to join their team and talking the talk with salary conversations. Then, when it came time to commit, nothing. This is just as annoying when you’re a job candidate as it is when you’re trying to date. The only thing you can do when this happens is to walk away gracefully. This may not be as immediately satisfying, but it’s always way more impactful. The way you accept a “no” says as much about your integrity as how you pursue a “yes.”
At the end of the day, dating and job hunting are both draining. They require an uncomfortable amount of vulnerability and require you to develop a comfort (or at least, a tolerance for) rejection. I stumbled across the comparison between online dating and job hunting as a job seeker, and later used the metaphor as a peer mentor. These skills I was learning in dating were skills I could apply to mitigate some of the stress that’s bound to come with the process of looking for a job. If I presented myself in the most honest and direct way to a future employer and they did end up interested, I knew they were actually interested in me. If I did my research and reflected honestly on my own goals for the future, I could make more meaningful interactions out of the limited time that I had with a hiring manager or recruiter. And if I could successfully leave a good impression through a handwritten thank-you note or email, I knew I would stay top-of-mind.
I left everything on the table. I was honest, direct, intentional and considerate. And if I did all of these things and they still went with another candidate, I would know I wasn’t the right fit. I didn’t spend nights wondering “what if?” or replaying conversations in my head in which that inner critic’s voice chastised me saying, “They didn’t even really get to know the real you.”
If you can get through the myriad of online dating apps, overcome all the real-life online dating struggles and navigate the endless list of potential online romantic partners, you can job hunt like the hustlin’ babe you are. You have to go all in if you want suitors—I mean, employers—lined up at your feet.
Hillary works as a Senior Strategy Consultant at IBM. She found her passion for her new job in the two years she took off work to pursue a full-time, Global MBA degree at George Washington University in Washington DC. She is driven by her constant curiosity and her truest love is for travel and adventure. Outside work you can find her playing in two of the local DC kickball leagues, taking Jiu Jitsu, boxing, and yoga classes at her gym, reading a book, or binge watching a new show (Currently obsessing over Outlander, because Jamie).