by Stephanie Walden, Mashable
We all know a — ahem — “friend” who spends hours crafting the perfect text message to a potential date: carefully choosing words, paying attention to length and tone and finding the emoji that’s just right.
It makes little sense, then, that these same meticulous message-crafters will often fire off a professional email without so much as a proofread.
The job search and the dating game share some common ground when it comes to finding the perfect match. If you’re looking for “the one” — whether it’s your dream girl or your dream job — waiting for the phone to ring can certainly be anxiety-inducing. Most of the time, success boils down to putting your best face forward, being sincere about your wants and needs, and, yes, even making compromises.
Here are a few basic guidelines that ring true for both work and romance:
1. Online Communications
Anyone who has dabbled in the world of online dating knows that the initial outreach is key. How are you coming across — witty? Charming? Desperate?
Mary Gay Townsend, senior managing director for OneWire Managed Services, offers the advice that sincerity is key.
“Don’t be a player. Both in dating and job searching, avoid any temptation to send out a single canned message to multiple parties. Insincerity is very obvious, and you won’t get a call back,” she says.
When reaching out to potential employers, it’s crucial to present yourself in the most professional manner possible. This means spell-checking, proofreading and using the correct tone in your emails. Perhaps you spent painstaking hours crafting the perfect cover letter with just the right mix of professionalism and pizzaz — but you attach it to an email that misspells the hiring manager’s name. Your hard work will likely end up in the trash folder.
“Embarrassing job search emails have been known to go viral among the HR community just like any other viral email, so think before you send,” says Townsend.
To ensure you’re using the appropriate tone in your interactions, do research on the company culture before reaching out. “There are many ways to engage with an organization. The absolute key with all of them is relevance, context and authenticity. Keep your messages short, meaningful and to-the-point,” says Arran Stewart, CTO of MyJobMatcher.com.
Both Stewart and Townsend also note that it’s a good idea to clean up your “digital footprint.” Employers are going to look you up online; be sure your social profiles reflect the same professionalism and character you’d want to portray to your potential boss. A digital cleanse can have numerous benefits; after all, you never know who is Googling you — that cute guy you gave your card to at the coffee shop, for instance.
2. Networking and “Friends of Friends”
For college graduates, the dating pool often consists of your extended social network — i.e. friends of friends. This can be a great network to tap into when on the hunt for a new gig, too. Remember that around 80% of jobs aren’t posted online. A casual conversation at a party might actually turn into a lucrative professional opportunity, so don’t be shy to ask friends and contacts about potential openings within their companies or industries when you’re on the hunt. A personal recommendation from one of your contacts may be the push you need to get your foot in the door.
“Networking and keeping in touch with the movers and shakers in your industry is the best way to get noticed.Nobody likes a hanger-on, but creating networks might just lead to that happy-ever-after job you crave,” says Tony Wilmot, co-founder of staffbay.com.
In addition to personal recommendations, having friends “on the inside” can help you learn more about the position and your potential fit more thoroughly than reading polished company literature online.
“When you’re dating someone new, it’s nice to get some feedback from mutual friends or coworkers. For example, what’s their personality like? Do they have any hidden skeletons in their closet? Are they who they say they are? The same situation will likely arise in the job search. Since referrals are cited as the number one source of hire, it’s important to find mutual connections that can verify your skills, accomplishments and company culture fit,” says Kes Thygesen, co-founder and head of product at RolePoint.
3. The First Date
A first date is essentially an audition for a second date. In the same way, your initial job interview — whether it be over the phone, via Skype or in person — is your chance to make a solid first impression and present yourself as a strong candidate for the job.
And, as with dating, the follow-up after an interview is crucial, and striking the right tone can be make or break if employers are on the fence. “Always follow up within 24 hours. If you don’t hear back within a week, it’s okay to follow up a second time, but make sure to strike a balance between sounding desperate and indifferent. You may want to check in with the contact who connected you with the company to get the inside scoop on how it really went,” says Townsend.
4. Be Yourself
Your wild claims about appearing on America’s Next Top Model are easily debunked — and nobody wants to end up in a relationship just to find out that the person they thought they were committing to is nothing like who they met on the first date. Being honest from the get-go is the best approach.
On the job search front, your resume needs to be in-line with your interview answers,LinkedIn profile and recommendations.
“Just like misleading pictures on a dating profile, major discrepancies on a resume are a no-no,” says Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire. “Be truthful when you showcase your soft skills and personality. While you may hope it’s a good fit no matter what, you don’t want to end up in a relationship where personalities clash too often. It’s more important for the company to naturally suit your style than for you to adjust to suit theirs.”
Similarly, it’s critical to be realistic and honest about your abilities and employment history. Lying on your resume to get ahead or making promises about your skill set that you can’t follow through with may help you land a job, but will likely lead to an unsatisfactory experience for both you and the company you’re joining. Keep in mind that many jobs have a 90-day trial clause worked into contracts, meaning that they can terminate employment fairly easily — think of the first few months of your new gig as the crucial first few months of a budding relationship. There’s no ring on your finger just yet.
“Just how your significant other will eventually find out you didn’t actually go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, so will your future employer learn the truth about your limited skills with public speaking, Photoshop or foreign language proficiency,” says Nathan Parcells, co-founder and CMO of InternMatch. “As with wooing a great partner, honesty and complete transparency will lead you to the right employer.”
This being said, Stewart of MyJobMatcher.com adds that it’s not cheating (and is, in fact, encouraged) to tailor your resume to each individual position you apply for. “Always make sure what you submit for consideration really brings your skills to the fore and puts your abilities in the best and most relevant light,” he says.
5. Expand Your Horizons
Maybe you never saw yourself dating a redhead or working at a startup — but sometimes happily ever after takes a different path from the grand vision in your head. Beware of extreme pickiness: You might miss out on something really amazing just because that guy from Match.com is a couple inches shorter than you’d hoped, or you just don’t “see yourself” taking an internship after graduation from college.
On the flip side, don’t be afraid to aim high. Without stretching yourself too thin, it doesn’t hurt to apply to positions you’re slightly under-qualified for. Oftentimes, employers place more emphasis on your potential to grow, how well you fit in with the company culture and even how genuinely likable you are, rather than if you’ve mastered every single skill on the list of job requirements.
6. Learn to Let Go
All of the above being taken into consideration, sometimes things still just don’t work out. Maybe you had an amazing first date (or even a second): great conversation, common interests, chemistry and even a goodnight kiss. But then he or she never called, leaving you perplexed, discouraged and a little hurt.
When this happens on the job search front — you rocked the interview, but the phone never rang with an offer — the best piece of advice is to get back on the horse. Don’t dwell on all the possible reasons why you didn’t seal the deal: They are almost impossible to know with any degree of certainty, and you’ll drive yourself crazy mentally ticking off all of the missteps or extenuating circumstances that could possibly have led to the offer falling through.
If you don’t hear back, don’t pester potential employers by hounding them with emails or calls. “While it’s important to send a thank you note immediately after an interview, you have to let things unveil naturally after the fact,” says Parcells. At some point, it’s time to cut your losses and move on. Don’t be the obnoxious guy on OKCupid who can’t take the hint.
At the end of the day, it’s cliché but true: There are many fish in the sea.