Which do you think will last longer: Your friend’s new job, or his new marriage? Tell him to update his resume because divorce rates might be high, but job turnover is even higher.
The average employee sticks around 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the average marriage lasts eight years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That means we’re slightly better at a picking mates than employers. So is there anything you can learn from dating that you should take to your next interview?
Yes, says Barbie Adler, founder of Selective Search, a personal matchmaking firm with offices across the country. “Finding a spouse is very similar to finding a new job–it’s a corporate marriage, so to speak,” she says. “If goals and values aren’t aligned, the result is often a fracture or divorce.”
During your job search, Adler, a former executive recruiter who has worked as a consultant for NBC’s The Apprentice and ABC’s The Bachelor, suggests asking yourself these six questions to find the perfect match:
In the romantic world, we often put together a list of non-negotiables when looking for a mate; you should do the same thing when searching for a job. While getting an offer is an immediate success, Adler says your compatibility with the company’s structure and culture will affect your long-term happiness. For example, if you like companies that can be fast and nimble with little red tape, you are probably better off at a dynamic startup. If you crave stability and an opportunity for frequent promotions, blue chip companies might be a good fit.
“Companies have personalities,” says Adler. “Ask yourself, what lifestyle am I looking to have, and then find companies that are a match.”
One of the indicators of a strong marriage is that you have fun together; the same can be said for a job. Sixty percent of your waking hours will be spent at work. If you love what you’re doing, success will follow, says Adler.
“You need to be passionate about your career,” she says. “Every day won’t feel like Disneyland, but your life will be much more rewarding if you’re in an environment that makes you thrive.”
Before a date, most people take time to look and be at their best. And you probably know that the same thing goes for an interview, says Adler. Show up a few minutes early, put away your cell phone, but don’t stop there.
“Before a date, you might clean your house; with an interview, your house is your social media,” she says. Remove pictures that might peg you as a partier or that aren’t in good taste. “If a date saw pictures of you on Facebook with several different guys, he might think you’re not serious about a relationship,” says Adler. “HR looks at same things.”
Just like with dating, there is a courting process during an interview, says Adler, and the conversation should be a two-way street.
“It seems like the employer has the control, but the candidate has just as much power,” she says. Research the company before your interview and ask smart questions.
Let the employer take the lead, but be engaged and ready to share examples of your work history. “Give specifics,” says Adler. “Don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. You can do it in a way that’s humble, if you talk with passion about being part of a team.”
We all have things in our past that we consider baggage when it comes to dating and the same can be said for an employment history. Don’t talk badly about your previous employers. Don’t immediately ask questions about things like salary, benefits and vacation time.
“You shouldn’t tell your life history on a first date and interviews are similar,” Adler says. “Ask questions about the company’s culture and the job responsibilities. If it goes well, there will probably be a second interview. Questions can go deeper then.”
After a date, you might call or send a text to thank the other person. After an interview, promptly send a letter thanking the person for their time. Make sure it doesn’t include misspelled words or poor grammar – it’s a turnoff when someone can’t spell, says Adler. And if you interviewed with more than one person, make sure each person gets a personalized letter.
“Cookie cutter follow-ups are bad,” says Adler. “It’s just like a date who doesn’t make you feel special.”