Fast Company

Careers: Why a Job Interview is Like a First Date

Have you noticed any similarities between your dating experiences and your job searches?

What these two puzzle parts have in common is a quest for better relationships. Granted, for some of us, both of these personal quests are fraught with frustration.

But in Shawn Graham's new book Courting Your Career, he spins the metaphor in amusing and insightful ways. Networking is matchmaking. Career fairs are akin to clubbing. Cover letters are like pick-up lines. And job boards are linked to online dating (and about equally successful).

Graham, a fellow Fast Company Experts blogger, has served as a career counselor at UNC-Chapel Hill where he field-tested this metaphor and found that it resonated well with students. When you're looking for a job you want to work with amiable people, right?

Yet, how do you know if a job is "your type"? Why naturally you date around! Although dating in this context may be informational or job interviews and internships. A sturdy metaphor, Graham even compares group interviews to group dates. "Sometimes, what started out as a romantic, one-on-one date can unexpectedly turn into a group outing without warning," he writes. "The same holds true with job interviews." He recommends having extra copies of your resume on hand in case this happens because you will appear well prepared.

The key to a successful interview is a good two-way conversation, he explains. He doesn't explore the non-verbal side of interview chemistry except to suggest that you present yourself well including carefully selecting what to wear.

Graham clues into the often confusing part of a first date: the goodnight kiss. "The close of an interview is a lot like the end of a date," he writes. "Although you'll never, and I repeat never, actually go for a goodnight kiss at the end of an interview, there are some things you can do to seal the deal." Well, I won't kiss and tell, but Graham offers some good advice here.

He explores a wide range of job search issues, including the trendy question about video resumes. Like me, Graham's not sold on the value of putting your skills and accomplishments on video instead of on paper. He cites three main problems including inconsistent content; the employer's inability to search or organize video; and possibly subjecting yourself to a recruiter's biases that may work against you.

The book includes lots of useful resources including sample resumes, cover letters and a job evaluation worksheet. There's also a helpful list of action verbs for resumes although I'm not quite sure how I would use the word "liquidated" effectively.

I unhesitatingly recommend Graham's book, particularly to graduates just starting their careers. I don't know about Graham, but I recall having better dates - and interviews - once I had a decent job.

Rusty Weston, My Global Career • San Francisco, Ca • http://www.myglobalcareer.com/

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