We’ve all heard the HR rep tell us that finding a job is just like dating. “You should also be evaluating whether or not you like us! Haha!” Without a doubt there are many parallels between dating and recruiting. Meeting people you found online. Having your friends reread drafts of your emails to ensure that you sound interested, but not desperate. Being rejected for not having enough experience. Feeling compelled to look at least moderately presentable.
But after that, there’s not much left to run on. I have had enough of the dating/recruiting analogy. The reality is that dating and recruiting have very little in common and we should all be grateful that there isn’t more overlap.
The biggest difference between dating and finding a job is necessity. Nobody wants to work, but they still have to. On the contrary, nobody needs to find a partner. They just want to have a partner so that they can have someone to complain about work to. People expect you to have a job and they expect you to recover quickly when you lose your job. No interviewer will ever turn you down because they feel like you haven’t had enough time to get over your last job.
The second biggest difference is the escalation of creepiness. If dating actually worked the way recruiting did, it would go something like this:
After sending flirtatious emails back and forth for a month, he finally asks you out.
You wake up extra early in order to be on time for a date that starts at 8AM.
You get all dressed up and walk into a private date room. He shuts the door.
You spend the date talking about all of your exes and all of the wonderful things you did when you were with them.
After Date 1, you anxiously wait for a phone call.
If you get another date, Date 2 will consist of an out-of-town trip and an invitation back to his place so you can meet the rest of his family.
After Date 2, he proposes to you over the phone and you have to wait a few days to get the ring.
When you get the ring, you say yes unless some other person has offered you a bigger ring.
At no point do you question whether or not things are moving too fast.
Finally, dating and recruiting are distinctly different with respect to the nature of breakups. How many people get fired when their boss discovers that they’ve secretly been working a second job every Wednesday night for the past two years? How many employee/employer pairs see the flame of their working rapport fade after the two of them sprouted off too many subsidiaries? Certainly no relationships end when a consulting company emerges out of nowhere to tell your wife, “sorry, madam, but I think you have too many husbands and you need to let some of them go.”
Although dating and recruiting are both terror-inducing activities, it is time to reject the analogy. It is not only misleading, but it is entirely unhelpful to tell students that the way to be good at recruiting is to imagine it’s just like doing something else that they’re probably really bad at.