Call Me Maybe: Why job hunting is like dating and how you can find your perfect match
Looking for a new job is a lot like dating again after a long-term relationship. You go into it with the best of intentions and try to maintain a positive attitude. You update your online profile, browse a lot of descriptions, and when you finally land an interview, you make sure to dress appropriately, show interest in the company and ask a lot of smart questions. You even send the company a nice note afterwards. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a call back for a second, or even a third interview. But if they swipe left, your profile will be relegated to their “files.”
When that happens, it can leave you discouraged. After all, you have a lot of skills and experience. You were with your last company for ten years, doing good work, with really smart people, and climbing the corporate ladder. Will you ever find the perfect [job] match?
Instead of beating yourself up or trying to convince yourself that you didn’t want that job anyway, take this time to think long and hard about what you really want from your next relationship, er, um career move. Here are some things to consider.
Does the company have a nice personality? Yes, a pretty office and big salary are great, but what about the company’s culture? Company culture is reflected in everything from the physical environment, to the recruiting process, to the way people interact with one another on a daily basis. How does the company operate? Is it bureaucratic and driven by policies and procedures, or does everyone contribute? Is it community-minded? Do senior leaders interact with employees? Do people genuinely seem happy and excited to be there? Don’t just rely on their online profile or what the interviewer tells you, do your own research and even talk to a few employees (or exes) to hear what it’s really like to work there.
Does the company’s mission excite you? More than just sweet nothings whispered in your ear (or splashed on a website), a company’s mission is its primary reason for existing. Whether it’s helping people in need, creating the next technological innovation, or delivering an essential public service, you need to determine if the company's mission is aligned with your own interests and beliefs and whether it makes you excited to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Does the company like to have deep conversations? Communication is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. Does the company’s leadership convey a clear vision and priorities, and does everyone understand how their work supports? Is leadership open and transparent about sharing news, or are employees viewed as an afterthought? Are managers invested in setting goals and having regular performance conversations, offering constructive feedback to help you develop? If the company demonstrates a culture of communication, it just might be a keeper.
Is the company financially stable? I know, I know, it’s rude to ask how much a company makes before you get to know each other better. But it’s so important to have this conversation before getting serious, especially if you expect the company to pay the rent. Financials can tell a lot about how a company operates and whether it will be a responsible long-term partner. If you're uncomfortable talking about it, be stealth. Take a look at its quarterly financial disclosures or annual 10k, where you can see how much revenue and profit it brings in, along with how much it spends on general and administrative costs. Is it reinvesting profits into growing the business, or blowing them on wild nights out? While you’re at it, read up on whether there are any questionable business dealings from its past relationships.
Most importantly, can you picture yourself growing old with the company? And by old, I mean at least 4.2 years, which is the average job tenure for most people according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that may not seem like a long time, you want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your commitment. Are there opportunities for growth or for learning about the industry? Does it offer training and development to help build your skills? If you’re going to be exclusive, you need to keep it exciting.
These are just some of the things that can help you decide if you’ve met the “one.” But don’t be afraid to be picky if Things don't quite live up to your expectations. There are many more postings on the job board.