A few weeks ago, I had a job interview and a first date on the same day. Later, I called my mom to talk about it.
“I basically had two interviews,” I told her. And it’s true, in a way. There are a lot of similarities between dating and job hunting. There’s a period of searching, and there is a first impression. There are experiences of disappointment and rejection. Finally, there is an opportunity to learn and to move on.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized the main similarity between the two is a certain amount of risk. When I go on a date or a to job interview, I am allowing myself to be vulnerable. This vulnerability can be terrifying, but if you’re thoughtful and cautious, it can be exciting too.
Making a match – Navigating job apps and dating apps
I hate filling out job applications. It’s a tedious process. I don’t like being asked to attach my resume only to be instructed to enter the same information into a poorly formatted online form. It’s hard to distill all of my career experiences into a few sentences.
It’s also hard to distill my personality into a few sentences on my Tinder bio. I try to make my dating profile clever and fun. I swipe past dozens of headless torsos and guys who proclaim, “I’m here for a good time, not a long time!” I’m looking for a relationship and not a hookup, so I have to be intentional about filtering my options, setting boundaries, and expressing my expectations.
If I start to chat with a match, and we seem to click, we meet in person.
Don’t let your daydreams disappoint you.
Ideally, a first date isn’t as formal as a job interview, but the objective is basically the same. Both parties are trying to see if it’s a match.
I’ve had great dates and crappy dates, just as I’ve had great job interviews and crappy ones. I try to be hopeful and optimistic, in general. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to fill a job vacancy if I wasn’t well suited for the position. Likewise, I don’t want to pursue a relationship with someone unless we both feel a connection.
Even so, it can be difficult to manage my expectations after these first impressions. I have a tendency to daydream. I start to imagine myself with a certain job. I think about what it would be like to fall in love with the cute hipster guy I just met an hour ago.
“We are moving forward with other candidates”: What to do when it doesn’t work out
My email inbox is full of rejection emails. The wording changes, but the message is the same – “You didn’t get the job.” Despite the disappointment, I appreciate the closure that comes with these messages. They enable me to process the disappointment and focus my energy on other opportunities.
Things in a relational context are not nearly so tidy. Dating is more personal. It can be so disappointing when a promising dating “candidate” doesn’t work out. I sometimes get emotionally invested in a job opportunity, but an HR manager can’t really break my heart.
When things end, it’s important to communicate with honesty, vulnerability, and generosity. Among my peers, “ghosting” seems to be a popular alternative to communication. Having experienced this, I can say it absolutely sucks. Ghosting is not an effective way to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
I wish more guys took the direct approach most HR managers use. I wish they would all deliver the truth with tact and clarity. Here is a good example from a guy I saw a few times:
“I have enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t see much of a relationship forming. Just wanted to let you know where I stand.”
I appreciated his honesty so much.
Getting to know myself better
Job hunting has been a difficult process, but I have also been learning a lot about myself. Throughout the last few months, I have learned that my job status doesn’t define me or affect my self worth. Yes, I need a job so that I can be financially stable and independent, but I don’t want my career to become my whole identity.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want for my career and my future. A job is important, but what I really desire for myself above all else to feel complete and happy. I eventually realized that I can cultivate those things no matter my employment status. Without a job, I can still pursue truth, cultivate healthy relationships, and express my creativity. I have been diligent with my job search. I have filled out countless applications, and I have had more than a dozen job interviews. I am weary, but I continue to have peace and hope because I know that my value as a person exists outside of my work.
My relationship status doesn’t affect my self worth either. Sure, I wrestle with feelings of loneliness and bitterness when I see happy couples. I want to be in a relationship. But in the meantime, I am trying to focus on growing as a person and striving toward wholeness. Whoever I meet should complement me, not complete me. I want to be sure I find the right man for the job.
Originally published June 23, 2017.