I often use the analogy of dating when discussing the steps of a career search to college age audiences as the analogy resonates with the demographic since dating is an ever-present topic in their lives. So how are dating and applying for jobs similar?
I had a friend in college who was always pining for a fellow classmate, Amy. My friend was okay in the looks department but Amy was beautiful. Amy was not just good-looking, even women in our class would admit that Amy was beautiful. Every year, my buddy would ask Amy to a dance/dinner/date and every year he got shot down. After each rejection, my buddy would be in a funk for weeks.
Shooting for the stars is a great idea, but after falling short multiple times with Amy, I wished my friend would expand his dating considerations. There were girls in college who were interested in spending time with my friend, but he did not even consider them as he was fixated on Amy.
Only in movies does the Average Joe end up with Miss America. Most couples tend to find a mate who is about the same level of beauty (I realize there are exceptions). My point being, it is good for us to embrace who we and be comfortable in our own skin. While swinging for the fences and asking out Miss America is admirable, and I encourage making the “Ask”, after a few rejections one needs to realize their compatibility level with the opposite sex.
A few years back, a young alumna wrote into the college newspaper complaining that she could not find a job, she even applied at McDonald’s and they did not hire her…a graduate from a top university. She was outraged. Another young alum I know has two masters degrees and has been applying to jobs that ask for high school/GED graduates – and the alum has had no luck in securing interviews for those positions.
What these two failed to realize is they are “out of their league”, in the opposite direction from the Amy example, when applying for these positions. A hiring manager would not want a recent grad from top university to work the cash register at McDonald’s because within a few weeks – if not sooner – the employee would be miserable and leave. There has to be a level of compatibility between the employer and the job.
The same holds true in the opposite direction, McKinsey & Co. (a top management consulting firm) would not hire me. I do not fit their qualifications for a consultant hire. Can and should I apply for the McKinsey role? Yes – and I should put my best effort in my application. Should I hold out until McKinsey offers me a job? No – I need to be realistic about my chances and have other consulting options in the works at the same time.
Just as my friend needed to realize there were many other great people he could spend time with who were not named Amy, job seekers need to realize there are multiple great employment opportunities out there in the market. My friend missed out on opportunities to interact with amazing women; many job seekers miss out on great employment opportunities because they are looking in the wrong places. We need to be honest with ourselves about how “attractive” we are to the hiring employer and avoid an “all or nothing” approach.
Tomorrow: The First Date/Interview