OK, maybe finding a job isn’t exactly like dating, but there are similarities – at least if you’re doing it right. Perhaps if I used an older term, like “courtship,” it would make more sense.
Picture it, a beautiful young lady – she’s smart, talented, witty, and funny. Along come two very different young men. The first handsome young man who is trying to win her heart is genuinely enamoured by the young woman. He learns as much about her as he can by talking to her friends and family. He strikes up casual conversations with her whenever he can so he can understand her better, learn her likes, dislikes, goals, ambitions, and fears. The more he learns about her, the more he cares for her. He takes a long hard look at himself to figure out what it is that he can offer her. The second young man just wants a woman, any woman. He’s suave and debonair, but he doesn’t really care about our heroine. It’s not that he dislikes her, just that he doesn’t really know her. He has a standard set of pick up lines that he’s been using with every woman he meets. He knows very little about the young woman, except perhaps her name. Is she athletic, does she enjoy the theatre, is she allergic to peaches? He hasn’t a clue.
Courtship begins. The second young man approaches first. He’s charming and handsome. At first, the young woman is flattered. Then she asks him, “Why are you interested in me?” He is flabbergasted. He doesn’t know! So, he falls to his standard answers: “You’re lovely, my dear. I am looking for someone who can take care of me, who will make me look good at parties, and will not get too upset with me if I spend time with my male friends.” She gives him a strange look, and he knows his boat is sinking quickly. “I want a woman who will make me a better man, help me to be stronger, more caring and more capable.” We’re not especially surprise when our heroine walks off.
Next, the first young suitor approaches. Our young lady is somewhat weary given her last experience. (She’s feeling like the suitors that approach her only care about what they will get out of a relationship and care very little about what she is looking for.) He presents her with three yellow tulips. (She smiles and wonders how he knew yellow tulips were her favourite flower.) They chat comfortably for a little while. (She feels quite at ease with this young man because she’s spoken with him on several occasions in the past.) Finally, he asks if she would accept him as a suitor. She quickly asks her probing question: Why ME?? The young man launches smoothly into a monologue about why he’s fallen so hard for our heroine – her intelligence, her close ties to family, her commitment to volunteerism, her aversion to spiders. (She’s impressed, but wants to know more.) He explains why he believes he’s the right man for her. “I know you are looking for someone who can support himself and is not lazy. I’ve been working and attending school full time for four years. I’ve saved enough money for a good down payment on a house. I’m also quite handy – I help with my uncle’s construction company. I also know you’re hoping to find someone who has similar interests and goals. I am very close to my family. I also volunteer once a week at a local pantry. And, I would gladly slay any spider that dare enter the same room as you!”
Who do you suppose our heroine would choose?
Just like our heroine, employers are looking for candidates that know something about their organization: What is their mission? What are their products/services? What populations do they serve? Employers also want you to know something about the position for which you are applying. They are far less concerned about how you think the employer can make your life better. “I am looking for a challenging job where I can grow and develop my skills?” How different is that from what Suitor #2 said? Why would the employer respond any differently than our heroine? On the flip side, if you get to know the employer well, and emphasize the specific things about you that fit their needs, the employer will likely respond the way the young lady responded to Suitor #1…and you’ll live happily ever after!