Why Your Job Hunt And Dating Are Basically The Same Thing
My senior year of college, I was a little sad about a relationship not working out and my friend Todd gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. He told me that “finding love is like winning the lottery—you have to scratch a lot of losers to finally find a winner.”
I eventually went on to find love in my late 20’s, but that piece of advice was something I found myself thinking about every time I was hunting for a new job. Whether I was working the dating scene or the job circuit, I started to see parallels between the two experiences.
Over the past few years I started mentoring younger women about their job search and it always came back to drawing the comparison to dating, which seemed to take some of the pressure off of them to find the perfect job. As women, we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve perfection in all that we do, but most of the time it’s the failures that help us get there in the end.
When you start to think of each experience—whether a bad date or a bad job—as a stepping stone that will ultimately help you find the perfect partner or the perfect job, you will learn to enjoy the often-messy journey as much as you do your happy ending.
Obviously it’s easy to see how this piece of advice refers to dating, but I recently got an email from a young woman who had been on the hunt for a job for over a month and had received an offer that she wanted to discuss with me. In her email, it seemed clear to me that she was trying to talk herself into taking a job that deep down she knew wasn’t really a good fit. When I wrote that back to her in my response email, she was then able to admit that she wasn’t really thrilled with the position but she was worried that something else wouldn’t come along and then she’d be stuck.
But what’s worse? Taking an extra month to feel stuck while you look for a better job, or getting trapped in a job that you don’t really want and then have to stay for at least a year before making your next move? Making a panic move and settling on something that you’re less than thrilled with is never the right answer. Hold out for something you know will make you excited to wake up and start your day.
Not Everyone Is A Winner
Early on in my career I started to notice that going out on job interviews is a lot like going out on blind dates. You’re nervous, sometimes the conversations are awkward, and you never know how much to genuinely reveal about yourself. This past summer, another young woman I have provided guidance to was telling me that she was a little disappointed by an interview she had with a company she had been interested in. I told her that disappointment usually happens when the fantasy of what we want doesn’t match the reality of what we experience. Even though she had built up this company as being a perfect match for her, upon meeting several people that worked there during her interview, she was upset that it didn’t play out the way she had wanted. And that’s okay! Despite how they may market themselves, not every company is going to be a culture fit.
In these situations, I like to remind the women I talk to that they are interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing them. An interview is a great way for you to feel out whether or not you can picture yourself working in their office, with their co-workers. And that might not be a perfect match every time.
Know Your Value
This is probably the biggest thing that women struggle with across the board. We constantly sell ourselves short and don’t fight hard enough for what we think we deserve. In some cases, we may not even realize that we deserve more at all! In a conversation with a good friend, it came out that her brother helped her negotiate her last job offer. She admitted that she initially balked at the number he told her to throw out for her salary request, but he pushed her to ask for it and she ended up getting it!
She is thinking about getting back on the job market again soon and this time around she said she’d aim high with her salary. Women undervalue themselves at work and in relationships, which leaves you feeling unhappy and stressed out. Never doubt yourself and your talents, know that you are a valuable member to any team that hires you and ask for more than you think you’ll get. At the very least, they’ll negotiate you down to something slightly higher than you’d want to take anyway and they’ll know you’re a woman who knows her worth.
Hilary Young is the owner of Hilary Young Creative, a content and marketing consulting company for small and medium-sized businesses. She also provides marketing coaching services to women entrepreneurs and business owners. For more inspirational tips for women in the workplace, follow her on Twitter @hyoungcreative