If you’re not old enough to remember the cultural phenomenon that was “The Dating Game” television show, allow me to enlighten you. Every show, one person seeking a date sat in front of a panel of potential dates (hopefully even marriage material down the road). The catch was the panel was hidden out of the date seeker’s view. The date seeker asked each one questions to determine who they wanted to date.
Here’s my point: The job search process isn’t that much different from The Dating Game. We ask questions of potential hiring decision makers. We answer their questions. We try to find out all we can about each other before selecting “the one.”
Here are a few tips on how to win the game.
Know What Your Date Is Looking For. The first date is usually about getting a good feel for what the other person is all about. In a job search, this means connecting with their philosophy of work and identifying how your value solves what they’re looking for. What really drives them? What type of person are they really hoping to find? Understanding how they want the tasks of the job implemented will be key to developing a good first impression – and generating any chance for a long-term relationship.
Discover What Each One Brings To The Relationship. On the first date, you always want to feature your best attributes first. But the key is to have a two-way conversation so that you really get to know each other, not just show off what YOU can bring to the table. Showing interest in each other helps build trust and rapport. Learn to ask good questions of the hiring decision maker. Just like in a dating scenario, both parties appreciate genuine interest in the other.
Don’t Be Needy. When you enter the job seeker game, beware of begging. No matter how bad you need a job, being overly eager isn’t attractive and rarely attracts the right relationship/company. Be yourself – but be confident in your abilities and personality.
Realize That You Marry The Family. In a dating situation, conversation usually turns to family quickly, discussing who we cherish and why. In a job search, the hiring decision maker’s “family” is the people on their team. It’s important to understand which team members they admire. This will tell you what behaviors are valued in this work “family.” Then network with others on the team to uncover what you can really expect in this work family’s life before accepting an offer to become a member.
Don’t Rush Into a Diamond. If things go well, the question will arise: “How much money are you currently looking for?” This is the employer sizing up how big of a ring they may have to buy you! But just as you would need to get to know the person better before accepting a proposal, you need the chance to have a few interviews/meetings with the hiring decision maker in an attempt to make a connection so that both of you are sure this job is the right fit. Once you’ve achieved this, you’re better positioned to negotiate for the big “diamond” you had hoped for.