You might call J. Maureen Henderson a one-person empire: Other than being a Gen-Y expert, Forbes contributor, and self-described know-it-all, she also founded Secret Agent Research, a creative content marketing training for small business. You can catch her other musings on her blog, Generation Meh.
Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with a woman who runs her own executive recruitment agency. She’s also a professional matchmaker. Several years ago, she realized that the majority of the professional clients she was placing were single and that she was frequently brokering introductions between them. She also realized that the skills needed to find someone their dream job and their dream mate had a lot of overlap, so being a canny entrepreneur, she decided to branch out. The more I’ve thought about her story, the more I’ve noticed that the bulk of conventional career advice and dating wisdom is virtually interchangeable. Here’s why dating and job hunting are two sides of the same coin.
If you’re braving the online dating waters, you want to make sure your profile is succinct, appealing, and typo-free. It’s possibly your one and only chance to impress your future one and only, so you want to make it a compelling showcase for your personality and values. You want to do likewise with your cover letter when applying for a job. You have three paragraphs to convince a prospective employer why you’re Mr. or Ms. Right, so you want to make sure the limited amount of content you provide is both mistake-free and developed to paint a vivid picture of who you are as an employee and how you would enrich your future boss’ professional life.
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When it comes to physical presentation, your date night attire and interview wear probably aren’t interchangeable, but both should reflect and respect your context. You wear a suit to interview at a white-shoe law firm and you don’t show up for a date in the clothes you were wearing to paint the bathroom several hours before.
It’s both the number one way people find jobs and find mates. Interestingly enough, the internet ranks a strong second for job hunters and love seekers.
Employers and potential partners both want to be wooed. They want to feel special and singled out, not as if you’re making the same blanket offer to everyone and hoping something, anything, sticks. Your communications with a hiring manager — whether a cover letter, email, or in-person meeting — is when you need to demonstrate your depth of knowledge about the employer and its achievements and tip your hand as to why you want to work for them and why hiring you is in their best interests. If you’re approaching potential matches on a dating site, skip the spray and pray method and give the other person a little more to go on than 'Hey! What’s up?' You don’t need to wax poetic about how beautiful your future children would be (in fact, skip that), but you should at least mention what caught your eye in their profile and ask a question or two to dig deeper into that info.
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A first date is not a time to discuss your ex-husband running off with your best friend, or casually drop a mention of your foot fetish into the conversation. Getting preachy about politics or religion is also roundly frowned upon. The game plan is to suss out whether you have enough commonalities, comfort and chemistry with the other person to warrant getting to know them further. The same conservative communication approach applies to job interviews. Your goal is to demonstrate that you’re the best fit for the position. That’s it. Any information above and beyond that — the clubs you belonged to in college, why your last boss was Satan with Donald Trump’s hair — is irrelevant and including it actually weakens your appeal, as it paints you as someone who can’t self-edit appropriately.
Send the thank-you note immediately after an interview. Reach out via email to ask for a hiring update if you haven’t heard from the employer within their specified timeframe. Don’t leave the interview without knowing what their planned next steps are. And if you have a great date? Make plans for a second — or establish it as a possibility — before you end the first. If someone is interested in seeing you again and you’d rather perform your own root canal than spend another minute in their company, you owe them a gracious and timely letdown. Don’t be like those hiring managers we’ve all met who tell you what a great interviewee you were and then just never call again. Be upfront and respect the other person’s feelings and time.
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This post originally appeared on Forbes’ The Ground Floor.