First impressions matter in dating and job search. I know this all too well as I have moved through dozens of first-date impressions during the seven years following my divorce and before I remarried in 2008.
My husband, Rob, and I met online via Match.com. Besides the first-impression story he wrote in his profile that resonated with my personal needs and priorities for a great mate and life-long partner, the initial photograph Rob sent me was striking—to this day, I call it his glamour shot, as it was obviously posed and snapped by a professional. Rob was decked out in his motorcycle leathers, posing next to his classic Indian motorcycle.
Without hesitation, I responded to his initial ‘resume,’ intrigued by the words he shared and drawn to his handsome picture.
ENTICE INTEREST BY BEING ‘TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE’
As many recruiters and hiring managers may do when reviewing resumes I quickly judged, “He’s too good to be true,” (and beyond that, I thought, if he really looks like his picture, he may be out of my league). But despite that initial feeling of ‘this picture is a bit over the top,’ and in fact in large part ‘because’ of that initial intrigue, I was hooked in. I had nothing to lose by reaching out and affirmatively responding to his gesture to communicate.
We began a series of emails that were engaging, and like a job interview, involved a series of questions and answers. What’s unique and pressing about dating interviews is that you play two roles: both interviewer (company) and interviewee (candidate).
During that time, I ferreted out his real day-to-day physical appearance (he quickly and politely responded to my request for current, non-glamour-shot photographs). A bit relieved he wasn’t a runway model, and in fact, he looked quite attractively normal, I continued the conversation with the hope and optimism that he may be the ‘one’ candidate that would fulfill the job of the-guy-of-my-future.
Within days, we had scheduled a telephone interview, and during this time, our voices and language created new first-impressions. Recently, Rob shared with me that my ability during that first call to hold an intelligent and thoughtful conversation impressed him.
As for Rob, his residual Texas accent, his ability to engage articulately and thoughtfully, his sincere interest in knowing me and his follow-through to place the call in the promised time-frame, met my interview needs and expectations and further attracted me.
DATING, LIKE JOB SEARCH, IS A PROCESS OF INTERVIEWS
Our questions to one another deepened and the answers met my wishes (and apparently his), so we scheduled an in-person interview for drinks at a respectable restaurant. Again, more first impressions were approaching as we scheduled our meet-up,
Our brief in-person interview (remember, it was supposed to be ‘just drinks’) moved into an evening-long conversation replete with laughter, potato skins and chicken fingers. Like an interview that blossoms into a connection, we politely closed a bit of the distance between one another and signaled our mutual interest.
As he walked me to my car, a second date was planned; and after that, a third date, a fourth, and then Christmas dinner (we began dating just weeks before the holiday!). The rest, as they say, is history, as our interview dating moved into serious courtship and ultimately marriage.
All of this to say, I continually draw connections between the dating interviewing I experienced over seven years with the job interview process. As such, the following parallels may be illustrated.
1. Job search marketing, like dating, is about being appealing. Be courageous in communicating your allure. Rob’s glamorous picture (combined with his pragmatic, yet best-foot-forward word story) quickly influenced my interest in him as a candidate in my partner search.
2. Job seekers, when building your resume, in addition to writing to your audience’s needs, push your envelope and be courageous. I’ve had many resume clients express initial discomfort with the boldness and bravura of their resume sales message, only later to call or email me that they boosted interviews tenfold and scaled the job search mountain in leaps versus baby steps. Now, more than ever, job seekers need to stand apart and create an appeal.
3. Rob’s profile story (resume) was written in a laid back, direct, ‘real’ tone, focusing on the aspects of his value that would market him – he wrote to his audience’s needs (the audience he wished to attract), and he said no more and no less than needed. As well, he punctuated this profile with a picture that was a bit audacious—he took a calculated marketing risk–that worked!
4. Similarly, writing a resume IS about being YOU and selling your unique value in a tone that is both direct AND value-focused. It IS a marketing tool, and it is written with the reader’s needs top of mind. As well, the resume is no time to be modest—grab the reader’s attention with a presentation that stirs emotions and makes the reader say, “I gotta know more.”
5. Be responsive, polite and persistent. Rob responded to my email response to his initial contact that same day; he also engaged with me via meaningful, thoughtful emails several nights running, maintained a respect for ours/his time (not over-indulging in our new-found interest, placing boundaries and ensuring each communication seemed natural, even though he strategically responded to make continued positive, authentic impressions). Likewise, in job search, be responsive and engaging, while also applying filters to not saying and doing everything that pops in your mind.
6. He also made himself accessible and reachable with a cell phone number that included a voice mail with HIS voice, and he promptly responded when I called or text-messaged. As we moved past initial interview processes, he quickly removed potential barriers to entry by revealing his home phone number and address.
7. Job seekers, disclosing how you may directly be reached, communicating openly and authentically and being reachable and responsible warms up recruiters, HR and hiring managers versus a nebulous communication strategy.
8. As well, Rob was ever polite and honest without over-revealing (we were dating, remember, not married) and persistent (he initiated follow-up conversations, scheduled our in-person interview and confirmed the meeting the day of). He also asked for the second interview as the first interview was closing.
9. Likewise, job seekers, it is quite acceptable (and necessary) to be persistent in your job search inquiries and conversations, demonstrating interest in the target company; remember, keep it polite, brief and focused on ‘them.’ If you start to feel you are revealing too much about yourself, pull back. If you are under-communicating, push yourself a bit ‘out’ of your reserved zone.
10. Job search is marketing—MARKET you. And the nice thing is, while you’re marketing YOU, you’re focusing on pleasing ‘them’ and filling their needs, so it’s really a process of courtship and you ultimately take the spotlight off of you and place it directly on them.
Bottom line: Proper, persistent and bold online and in-person communications can significantly and positively change the direction of your life and your job search. Interestingly, Rob and I recently were discussing the fact that major decisions in our lives have centered around the Internet: 1. We met on Match.com. 2. We researched and found our sailboat, Seas the Day AND the dock at the lake where our boat resides and where we have expanded our friendship/sailing network by dozens of new, interesting people, via the Internet. 3. We hired our minister to oversee our marriage ceremony via the Internet!