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The Rules of Engagement: Dating vs. Job Hunting

July 22, 2010

If you’re a normal person with a discerning eye, then you probably agree that over-eagerness is an undesirable trait when looking for a mate. When I was single, I heard the phrase “I don’t want to play games” from time to time. It seemed to me that in some instances, people were confusing “playing games” with me “taking time to figure out if I want to go out again.” If that phrase was declared on a date, it usually meant there would be a carefully-crafted text message or phone call (or both) later that evening, and possibly some the next day as well. While it is easy to justify these behaviors when you are the sender, and they seem like a good idea at the time, sometimes it’s best to let the night marinate and process before follow-up’s ensue, even if the evening in question really was all that. The days in between outings waiting for someone to call can be excruciating, but they also help build momentum. A necessary evil, I’d say. Yes, there are rules, and they help members of society keep order while deciding if they like or don’t like one another.

On the flip side, is looking for jobs. Another activity, often done in a social setting, that requires you to be charming and unique and qualified by someone else’s standards. Though hopefully in the workplace you’re not being judged on your love of dogs and whether you like red or white wine, you still have to sell yourself. But the rules are very different.

Yesterday, I was impressed with a girl (woman? whatever) who sent me an e-mail asking for job advice. I gave her a few suggestions, not expecting to hear back. There have been many times when people have contacted me for advice, which I gladly dole out, only to hear nothing back from the person who was so hell-bent on launching a career in marketing. The relationships we build in this industry are absolutely critical to our success, and when someone takes the time to help you, it’s best to respond with at least a “thank you.” Best not to wait three days to do it, either.

The young woman (that’ll work) sent me an email in response within 12 hours, telling me she’d already taken some of my suggestions. It only made me want to help more. Needless to say, this gal got off on the right foot with me. Skills like this demonstrate follow-through and a willingness to take suggestions and advice to heart, two things that take a lot of people years to learn. Some never learn them.

Though over-eagerness has no place in dating (unless you both fall instantly, madly in love, then it’s probably okay), being eager when looking for jobs and being very clear of your intentions with possible employers will help you stand out. Thank you notes, follow-up emails after interviews, phone calls with additional questions… these things are appreciated. We’re still in a recession, people, or something like it. If you want a job, go out and try to get one, and be aggressive. No need to be coy, Roy. Don’t be afraid to show the people hiring who wants it the most.

Image by Matthew Inman.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 6, 2010 1:36 pm

    Great comparison! I usually heed majority of your advice in my job search, but things change so frequently and it’s hard to know what’s OK and what’s not OK in the job market. My question is, when I first started job-hunting…I was told that appearing “eager” was a negative thing. And with the economy today, I’m sure everyone seems pretty eager for jobs. What exactly is a healthy dose of eagerness that lets potential employers know you are eager – but not desperate or a spazz (even if you are, but don’t want to come off like that)? ^_^

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