10 Reasons Why Job Hunting Has Become the New Dating
BY CHOUROUK GORRAB
After leaving my job in 2021, I flew solo to Mexico for a new backpacking adventure. My goal: break away from my day-to-day, reset, and figure out what I wanted to do next. But most of all, I needed to rest.
My brain and body were screaming for a break and kicked away every tentative for self-reflection. I had exhausted all the tabs my mind could open, and after 3 months of travelling, I had achieved most of my objectives.
When I got back to London, I dipped my toes into job hunting and all the fun it entails: countless job applications, interviews, and ‘informal’ chats. My best friend quickly flagged that searching for the right job was just like looking for the right person.
She had left her job not long after I came back from my trip, so we dove into the job market together, navigating our way through unemployment, and sharing this emotional rollercoaster together. We explored our emotions and kept each other sane during that time, cheering when one of us had a new opportunity, but also lending an ear when things didn't pan out as planned.
Way down in my *cough* thirties, and back from a well-deserved break, full of hope, and ready to start fresh, I had to figure it all out again. What did the right job look like, and what did I want to get out of it? In many ways, it felt like being on ‘Love is Blind’, LinkedIn edition.
I had high expectations for everything from my own needs to my employer’s values and labour conditions. After hitting a few brick walls and inconclusive interviews, I started to lower them and re-evaluate my ambitions. I realised that, just like there is no dream guy, there is no dream job. I had to compromise, prioritise what was important, and I had to be realistic.
Time will tell what will actually lead me to the job of my (new) dreams, but I like to think that all our experiences, good or bad, happen for a reason. But the lessons are here to stay, and I can apply them in my dating life too. Here are 10 ways a job hunt is similar to modern dating.
1. It’s a full-time job. It’s a true paradox, and I had forgotten how time-consuming and mentally exhausting it was going to be. I have to say that looking for the right relationship can also feel like it now, especially with the flood of dating apps changing the game of dating forever. A friend once told me that he was dedicating 20 minutes a day to swiping on dating apps to make sure he had more opportunities to meet women. Imagine looking for both a job and a partner this way: how exhausting is that?
2. They require you to be on your best behaviour, every time you meet. You might be able to trick your way into it at the start, showing the best version of yourself, and putting on your best outfit, but the truth is that reality and the ups and downs of life will catch up with you at some point. Whether you’re in an interview or on a date, they might get in the way of concluding positively. Because after all, we’re not robots.
3. Both (can) require a lot of research and effort. Just like you would search - online mostly now - for a potential date before meeting them, you will probably do the same about a potential employer before applying. Some people are better at doing the work than others, but that in itself is still time you have to spend trying to figure out who they are, what they’re like, and how they see things moving forward. Data predictions and your crystal bowl won’t cut it: you need to do a minimum of research beforehand.
4. You need to put yourself out there. Just like you need to be proactive when looking for a relationship - I see you swiping left and right there - you need to channel that energy when looking for a job. And it can be draining when you’re not naturally a ‘people person’, especially with the added pressure of making a good first impression within seconds.
5. You have to diversify and look in the right places. Apps, social media, events (Is networking the new dating?), friends, friends of friends, acquaintances. The list is long and so is the time to go through them. Whether you are looking for a job or a relationship, you need to make sure you are looking in the right places, and on a regular basis, to not miss out on opportunities.
6. Patience is the word. Both job searching and dating can take time, you need to be patient and keep looking until you find the right fit. Taking a shortcut might work for some, but not for everyone. So be kind to yourself.
7. You need to be honest. But not revealing too much too quickly. You don’t want to put all your cards on the table at the very beginning because it might scare them off, or they might misunderstand what you’re saying. I’ve always found that honesty was the best approach - even if at times it didn't play in my favour. If you’re not honest about your skills and abilities, or your expectations and feelings, you might struggle to find a meaningful connection.
8. Beware of the ‘ghosters’. *Sigh* Just like the losers of the dating world, some recruiters will ghost you after one, two, or more interviews. If you come across that type, steer away from them - and their business. It’s never a good look.
9. You must stand your ground - as much as you can. You’ll be tempted to go for that job that is the opposite of what you set yourself to do. While it can seem tempting - especially in a cost-of-living crisis, it might be damaging to your self-esteem and your career path. You wouldn’t want an abusive, toxic, or flaky partner, so why settle in your career? Of course, not all experiences are similar, and you may need to compromise more than initially planned.
10. You have to be yourself. You might not always be in the right mood or want to make that extra effort, but showing your true self can be liberating and welcomed positively by the person in front of you. It’s fair to say that not all personalities match - and I got a few reminders of that during my interviews, but even if things don’t work out, there are more chances for someone to keep a positive image of you if you are authentic. Trying to be what (you think) someone else wants you to be is never a good idea.
You can be as prepared or experienced as you can, roadblocks and accidents can happen at any time along the solo journey of job hunting or modern dating. So be patient with yourself, and don’t hesitate to confide in others - especially close friends in a similar situation. And do yourself a favour and take a break when you need it: whether it’s mental or physical rest, exercise, or even a new hobby. Our experiences and mindsets are all different, and some of you might get lucky while others will struggle longer to find the shoe that fits. Just keep hyping yourself up, celebrate the small wins, and learn from your failures. Your struggle in finding ‘the one’ has nothing to do with your self-worth. Sometimes you win and other times you lose. Just keep going!