13 Apr 2017

Getting a job is like dating

I spoke on "Career opportunities after a Bachelor's degree" yesterday [39 min MP3].*

In the talk, I made a lot of analogies between finding a job/working and finding a date/relationships.

Most important: You'll survive. Your first job like your first date (or relationship) is unlikely to be your last. Don't worry about mistakes. This is not marriage. Take a job that looks good, learn from it and move on if it's not working for you or you have a better offer. You're unlikely to marry the first person you date, so don't marry your first job either.

Your value in your eyes is not the same as your value in the eyes of others (for better or for worse), so it takes times to find the right "match."

When supply and demand are unbalanced, it takes even longer to make a match. One girl choosing between 10 guys is like one employer choosing among 10 candidates. Those are "buyer's markets." When it's a seller's market, then that girl may be competing with lots of other girls to get a guy's attention or that firm may be competing with other firms to get employees. In the last 10 years or so, it's been a buyer's market but that's changing recently. That said, you can't just assume you'll get a date. Put in the time to show your value.

Dating is a multi-dimensional pairing process that takes time and luck. Keep you options open, look for deal breakers, and give it some time. Some people are not as good or bad as they might immediately appear. Tinder is terrible for finding a good match in the same way as the CV/resume is a terrible summary of who you are as a worker and colleague.

Don't forget that you may be fooling yourself in terms of your value or looking for matches in the wrong place. University graduates who refuse jobs that are "below them" lose out on experiences and opportunities. That's often why "get 'er done" graduates from polytechnical schools (HBO's in the Netherlands) get jobs faster, make more money and advance more quickly in their careers. Don't be a wall-flower. Get into the mix! Use your creativity.

Not all dates work out but some are fun and others are "learning experiences." Make sure that each time you switch partners you do better for yourself

When you're older you will see younger people making lots of dating mistakes. They won't understand what your trying to tell them half the time because they need to learn for themselves. Your experience might help them get over their immediate panic if you can show them how their dating setbacks are not exactly unique innovations. We've all been there.

By the way: Dating is about mutual exchange. Prostitution is buying affection. If you're in the job market, you're dating. If you're in a masters program you're paying. Make sure you get your money's worth because many masters programs only see you as a revenue source.

Bottom Line It's really great to have a nice romantic relationship like it's really nice to have a fun and interesting job, but neither just appear on demand. You need to be patient, take risks, and communicate well if you are going to succeed in either.

*I started the recording late, so it's missing a few minutes.

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