Looking for a job is like dating. The number of similarities is astonishing.
I’ve been looking for a job for nearly two years (while still working at the one I have, fortunately). For the most part, this endeavor is now performed almost exclusively online. (The job hunting, I mean. I don’t do the internet dating thing.) Which means you send your information and deepest hopes and also a bunch of crap about how you’d be great at — insert job title here — for — insert name of company here — out into the cosmic void, and you get back…
Sort of like when you meet someone you like, and you get kind of excited, but it freaks the other person out, and they start avoiding you.
Not that I do that.
Sometimes (like, four times out of 85 applications – and yes, that’s the exactly correct proportion for yours truly), you get someone who’s interested. It’s very exciting, but you don’t want to overplay your hand too early. You stay cool instead. Well, cool, but interested. “Sure, I can meet you for lunch.”
And it goes really, really well.
When you leave, you’re kind of psyched. You know you’re going to hear from him again.
And then… crickets.
And you sit there at night, thinking, But… I liked him. And he really liked me. I mean, he was totally into me. He practically said I’m exactly what he’s been looking for. I thought for sure he’d call.
Sometimes, they call. They want to see you again. Wow, you think. This could actually work out. Still, you don’t want to act all psycho about it, so you decide you’re not going to ask about exclusivity (aka salary) unless they move to seal the deal. After all, it has to be his decision. If he doesn’t want me, I’m not going to beg. So you go for the second date, and again, it goes really, really well. By the time you leave, you are convinced that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
You’re cool even though he doesn’t call for several days.
After a week, you check in, you know, casual-like. Just to say hello and see how he’s doing. You leave a breezy voicemail.
Days later, you’re starting to sweat it. You’re doubting yourself. You realized that, when he asked you about your work-life balance, maybe you didn’t give exactly the right answer. Maybe you could have said it better, so that it flattered him more, but was still the truth. Ugh. The agony.
Finally, at like 4:15 on a Friday, he calls. Your stomach flips when you see the caller ID. It’s him. Oh, it’s him. Deep breath.
“Hello?” (Easy… take it easy…)
“Hi! I’m so sorry it took me so long to call!”
“Oh… that’s alright,” you say with forced brightness, like it hasn’t been torturing you.
“Yeah, I really enjoyed our last meeting,” he says. “You’re so great. You have almost everything I need.”
Almost? You wait. You can’t tell where this is going. Where is this going?
“I’m sorry,” he says. “It just didn’t work out.”
You quell your urge to ask why… after all, it’s not like you had more than two dates. You just had such high hopes… all the signs were there… he was what you’ve been looking for. Not perfect, but you know, no one is. So with tears in your eyes, you steady your voice and act like it doesn’t hurt. You end the call as friends, with promises to keep in touch. Maybe he’ll set you up with this other guy he knows…
That other woman he chose, she’ll never be as good as you, anyway.
Heartbroken, it takes you some time before you feel like you can go through it again. You avoid the advances of other companies, flirting with you, trying to seduce you with their titles, their (blanket) interest constantly coming through your email. You leave it unread for days. When you think you can handle it, you open it and look through, but… they’ll never be the one you really wanted.
Slowly, you get your strength back until one day you’re willing to take another chance. And when it all happens again, you feel like a fool, unwanted and cast aside.
But there’s a foot for every shoe. So you keep hoping. And you keep trying. Because someday, you’ll find the right one.