Searching for that Right Match – A Dater’s Guide to Job Hunting - Make Love Happen

Image by bixentro via Flickr

Okay, so there has been some mixed feedback about my “resume collateral” piece.  Some have liked it, though the (legitimate) question has certainly arisen, “what am I going to do with it?”

First, let’s look at the similarities between job hunting and dating.  (No, hear me out.  I know I wrote about that whole hunting metaphor a few posts back, but this will be good.)

In both cases there are two parties, each with its own interests, needs, desires, wishes, fantasies and hopes.  Each party brings its own baggage to the table, years of experience (both good and bad) which will affect how the two parties relate to one another.  Each party has their own expectations – standards, rules, guidelines – basic minimum qualifications and ideal qualities of the perfect match.  In most cases, each party is looking to meet the same goal – form a relationship – although one party may want that more urgently than the other.

Although the two parties have distinct roles in the job hunt, and that distinction has largely dissipated in the world of dating, the similarities continue.  There are similar options for both sides of the metaphor as well:  some relationships start casual and become more serious over time, others may start off with the knowledge that it is a temporary arrangement.  Many seeking these relationships “see” more than one party at a time, and most are spending a lot of time searching for that perfect match – or at least, “good enough”.

One party is often more interested than the other, which leaves that first party wondering “what did I do?”  Even in cases when both parties are somewhat equally interested, the wrong statement or even the wrong body language or tone of voice can end the fragile status-quo which has been built.  And in the end, the two parties may be perfect for one another, but a third party may be an even better match, or there may possibly be an external pressure on the decision-maker from parties with influence on them. 

Sure, it is true that the metaphor isn’t perfect – marriage is a lot more permanent than most jobs (even if it only boasts a 50% rate), and most parties in the job hunt usually have a common understanding of the end goal, while the same can seldom be said in the dating world.  But even with these and other flaws, I’ll maintain the metaphor for just long enough to explain that resume collateral piece I introduced yesterday.

I was in a long-term relationship, one which got closer and more serious over time.  I was committed and loyal, but we simply grew apart.  My partner decided that there was no room in her life for that kind of relationship, and ended.  I had seen the end coming, and had even prepared myself somewhat.  I re-entered the world of the single person after more than a decade of partnership.

Thankfully, I have not been desperate to find a partner yet.  Desperation is a condition as fatal to the job hunter as it is to the dater – unless you find someone equally desperate, you will not attract anyone; and if you do both desperately cling to each other out of need, the relationship is almost certainly doomed to fail.

But still, I want a partner.  Sure, I have someone I see frequently enough, but I do want more than this partner has been prepared to give so far.  And because our relationship is clearly not exclusive, I have been going out, trying to find that perfect match while this partner finds the right niche for me in its life.

So I have done the usual: surfing job boards, joining discussion groups and accepting “set-ups” through friends, all very reminiscent of hanging out at nightclubs, joining clubs or groups and accepting “set-ups” through friends.  I always make sure to put on my best face, and I truly try to engage with my prospective partners.

Sometimes the chemistry is simply not there.  Both of us recognize this from the start – one of us is out of the other’s league, so to speak – I might not even get the proverbial smile in the majority of cases.  In other cases there is chemistry – enough to have a chat on the phone, or maybe even meet up for a drink or even a formal date, complete with sweaty palms and halitosis anxiety. 

But in this world of job searching, there is a definitely advantage to one side over the other.  The hiring companies have a distinct advantage – it is an employer’s market in the vast majority of industries, comparable with being a pretty girl at an (otherwise) all-boys’ school.  With the market, and technology, being what it is, more and more “committed” people are also out trying to meet the singles of the other gender, and with almost everyone wearing the same exact clothes, the same hairstyles, it is hard to stand out from the crowd.

It’s not as hopeless as it may seem.  That pretty girl does have to pick someone, so why shouldn’t it be me?  There is someone for everyone – and that girl’s last boyfriend was not much better looking, nicer or cooler than I am.  And of course, that pretty girl is not the only one in town – sure, there may be ten boys for every girl in this metaphoric town, but there are others, many of whom I haven’t even met yet, or considered in “that way”.  And most of these girls are overwhelmed by the attention being thrown at them, leveraging others (friends? recruiters?) to help them weed through their potential suitors. 

Again, I am thankful that I am not desperate – if one clings to a relationship not suited for them, it takes away time and energy from finding a proper match.  I know it is a market that favors the girls, and believe you me I am doing my best to appear somebody’s knight in shining armor.  But meanwhile it can’t hurt to improve myself, inside and out.

So I go the gym – work on my appearance, maybe improve the way I walk, talk or just interact with the world.  I read a lot of books, ensuring that I have something both interesting and appropriate to say.  I make sure to be friendly with everyone I meet – listening for signs that they too, (or someone they know) might be searching for someone just like me.  When I do meet these people, I want to look as good as possible, make sure my breath is fresh.  I try to be engaging, confident, the picture of a perfect partner.

I don’t wish to lie to any of these prospective partners, but I do want to show them my better side – to appear to be the person I know I can be, with the right partner.  Sure, I might downplay my interest in sports – it’s not that important to me after all – or pretend to have read a little more Shakespeare than I can remember right now (and believe me, I will be reading late into the night), but I do not want to deceive you, to trick you into a false intimacy too soon.

And if I find a new way to share the fact that I am available, I do that.  Not only by going to singles bars or telling my friends, which I am already doing, but by doing things that interest me – joining a book club discussion group, for instance.  I’ve tried speed dating, internet sites and even porn (where it does satisfy one’s basic need, i.e. money, but is totally unsatisfying to the heart).  I try to be open minded, and in any other situation (where, to follow the metaphor, the single women do not outnumber the single men) I know I would be in a satisfying monogamous relationship. 

So while I experience the occasional encounter with one individual or another (think either “consultant” or “booty call”, depending on which side of the metaphor you’re trying to follow) I am still hoping to attract that right person.

I want that perfect partner – not just someone who is cute and funny, but also one who has the same values I do, one who wants to see our relationship grow in similar directions, one who is caring, patient and open.  I can deal with some baggage, as we ALL bring our own luggage to the relationship, but I would like to grow to a place where mutual trust, honesty and openness allows us to build a relationship as one partner to another.

I know that when I meet that person I will have to continue all of the things I have been doing – a respectful handshake, a genuine smile and a willingness to listen go a long way on both sides of this metaphor.  But is there anything wrong with trying to expand the channels through which I meet prospective mates?

Personal ads, matchmaking Web sites and social networking all allow people to meet in the search for a mate, and it is no different for the search for a job.  People using these channels need to post the best picture they can, at the same time as being honest about themselves – who they are, and what they bring to the relationship.

People who post more pictures of themselves build up more attraction – the viewer starts to feel they know the person in the pictures, through their clothing, expression, situation and even the choice of the pictures themselves.  They trust that this is a real person – not the urban-legendary fat hair guy pretending to be a cheerleader – and feel a just a little more willing to give the person a chance. 

Or not, it is true that it’s possible someone seeing my collage would be turned off by that, but wouldn’t that have been a poor match for me anyway?  I am not going to answer THEIR ad with my own collage, but having it on my own profile couldn’t hurt that much, could it?

And if I can show you examples of my potential – through past experience, through introducing you to friends or family, or simply through telling you my good points – I am going to do so.  Sure, it might be a bit overboard to just send out a 30-minute video of myself to millions of single women in the hopes of finding a proper match, but if I see an attractive person signing up for video dating that 30-minute effort of my own would not be wasted.

Moreover, if I can find a way of doing it without seeming desperate, would there be anything wrong with using an excerpt from that video to post online, maybe, just maybe, attracting a prospective partner?  Sure I will need to prove my substance beyond that, but as an initial introduction?

Maybe I would be best off making my own Web page, my own dating profiles, sexier.  And my resume collateral piece did help me visualize one tactical outcome of the strategy and content I had been compiling.  When I am ready, believe me my “home page” is going to be a proper one which still conveys my professionalism at the same time as conveying all the other messages I want to communicate about myself.

This exercise also helped me think about my resume itself – there are changes to that document I am ready to make, which I think will only improve it.  And no, there will be neither color nor graphics.  But stay tuned in the coming week or two, when I will unveil my actual resume.

I also may want to create my own “fact sheets”.  Because there are several jobs for which I could qualify, I need to emphasize different qualities depending on whether I am applying to be a Pricing Director, Product Manager or Business Analyst.  I do customize my resume for each opportunity I have, but having my speaking points laid out in fact sheets might also be a helpful tool in discovery – or in closing the final sale in each of these targeted cases.

Yes, I know that the majority of the world believes in pigeon-holing everyone else, looking for the exact fit to a specific set of criteria.  In some cases it doesn’t even matter how arbitrary those criteria might be.  I know I am an all-around good guy – some might find me more attractive or funnier or smarter than others, but I know I have a lot of good qualities.  Just because YOU focus on a sense of humor doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t also show you my six-pack abs.

Maybe I shouldn’t have called it “resume collateral add-on”, but come up with either a sexier, or at least more descriptive, term.  I could call it an “introduction sheet”, or a “giant business card”.  I could call it a “me-sheet” or a “free SEXXX inside!” for that matter.  The point is that I have this piece that, in the right circumstances, could be a very powerful tool in helping me find that right mate.

Even if that is only to help me redesign my own site, my face to the eligible dating world, it’s worth the effort put into it.  If it helps me to understand my message and make it more clear, then nothing was lost and a lot was gained in the process.  If the collateral piece helps me to explain TO MYSELF who I am and what message I want to convey, it has been worth the mere hours spent on it (and, I might add, zero dollars).

And if I get a single design gig, a single job interview – even a single extra look at my resume, it might very well be worth all of the effort. 

All it takes is the right opportunity to meet that perfect mate.


P.S.  Just after I finished writing this, I saw the below post.  So things work in both directions.  Go figure.

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:

“Our ideal candidate has also cursed out an editor, had spokespeople hang up on them in anger and threatened to resign at least once because some fool wanted to screw around with their perfect lede.

If you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.”



4 Responses to “Searching for that Right Match – A Dater’s Guide to Job Hunting”
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  4. […] a good theory, and frankly, one that has served me well. I began focusing and honing my own digital footprint while I was unemployed, using that opportunity to build my own Web presence, accentuating the […]

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