Dating and Job-seeking: Separate But Similar

“Who wants to share bad news?” read a text message from a friend who is a hiring manager at a consulting firm. She was responding to a message where I vented my frustration with a company who failed to follow-up with me after an interview. From the way the interview unfolded and the fact that I was the perfect match for the job, I knew that (as Cher asserted in the movie “Clueless” ) “It was in the bag!”

Good point, I thought in response to my friend’s text message. Those words were never punched into my Android keypad, but her comment made me think of times where I had to be the bearer of bad news. I thought of men who had asked me on a date and I said “no.” I thought of men who had asked me to be their girlfriend, and I refused.  In fact, I realized that all my memories of me sharing bad news occurred between a member of the opposite sex and me. On numerous accounts throughout this grueling process, I’ve made connections between dating and job-seeking. Here’s how these two things are separate but similar:

1.     No one likes being rejected. And no one likes being the rejecter.

Recently, a fellow church member asked me out. He was a nice guy – considerate, funny, loved kids (especially his own) – but I wasn’t attractive to him. “Maybe if I avoid his phone calls, he’ll realize that I don’t feel the same way.” I told a girl friend via Skype video chat.

Jessica!” She blurted out, as if I had lost my mind, “Don’t do that. Just tell him you’re not interested! That’s trifling to avoid him.” She was right, and my stomach turned flips at the thought of having to tell him “no.”

The next time the guy called asking me out to a movie, I turned him down. It was a simple conversation.

Him: “Would you like to go to a movie?”

Me: “Thank you for asking. But no thank you.”

But that five-second conversation was ranked amongst the top 10 most difficult conversations I’ve had in 2011. I sensed the disappointment in his voice and I felt like a jerk. No one likes rejecters, and since employers  are people too (hard to believe, I know), they don’t like informing you that you weren’t a match for the position no matter how outstanding a candidate’s credentials.

2. You always want what you can’t have.

I move a lot. I’m semi-nomadic. I guess that’s part of the new 20something movement. About 3 out of the 7 times that I’ve moved in the last 6 years, a guy in the city that I’ve moved from will come out of the woodworks, days before my departure, to tell me how much he will miss me and how much he would like to be with me. My reaction is always the same: “You mean to tell me, that I’ve been here for [insert time here] and only now you tell me that you’d love to date me?” It aggravates me every time.

Similarly, employers will wait until I am no longer available to offer me a job. When I accepted a job offer in March 2010, my Gmail inbox became flooded with e-mails from recruiters I reached out to eons ago informing me that they had a position for me. One recruiter called me incessantly, informing me that among the 200 candidates who applied to the position, my profile was the only one that matched the job description. He even pleaded with me, asking me to consider rescinding my acceptance to the other job. (To which I responded, “No, but thanks for the offer.”)

You are more appealing to employers when you have another job; you are more appealing to the opposite sex when you’re unavailable. It’s human nature to always want what is unavailable.

3. Everyone wants to you to accept her offer.

“I like Atlanta girls cause their easy,” announced a guy I  met at the baggage carousel upon my arrival to Boston’s Logan International Airport in 2007. I guess that was his way of flirting with me? I was slightly offended and let him know that the “Atlanta girl” that he just described was not applicable to me. Men who go after women who are likely to say “yes” are far from being in a minority. My former co-worker used to brag all the time, “When I was in New York, girls were so hard. I had to perfect my skills to pick up women. But when I came to the South, my skills were up to par. And Southern girls were so easy! I like Southern girls better.”

In the same vein, employers are more likely to offer a position to a candidate who is likely to say “yes.” Before I accepted the offer from my most recent job in March 2010, the employer kept asking questions that would affirm my interest, “Are you sure you want this job? Are you willing to relocate?  Tell me why you want this job.” She wanted to make sure that when she offered me the position, I’d accept.

4. Desperation is bad.

The only thing more unattractive me than a man with a Jheri curl is a man who’s desperate. Women who are thirsty repel men too.  While hanging out with a girl friend at a Serani concert last month, we ran into one of her male friends. To be polite, she introduced me. After he expressed some interest in me, I took her aside to get the 411 on her homeboy. She told me that within the last year or so, he had not only hit on her, but five of her friends. Next! I thought. Desperation is bad.

Job hunting is frustrating at times. I am tempted to write HIRE ME in big bold letters on my LinkedIn page. I want to e-mail all my contacts with the subject that reads, PLEASE HIRE ME. A few times, I’ve drafted e-mails to former classmates that read, Your company won’t call me back, can you ask them why they won’t hire me? I never sent those e-mails because desperation is an unattractive quality.

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