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?
End of the Night – Kiss/No Kiss?
The date is almost over, you had a great time and think this could be the beginning of something wonderful. You walk her up to her front door, make a comment like, “I had a great time tonight,” and then what? Kiss/No Kiss?
That moment can result in a wonderful or embarrassing experience. Does she want you to lean in or leave? The reason this vulnerable moment can be so awkward is that one needs to be able to accurately read individuals and situations and then act on this analysis.
This ability to “read” a situation or individuals is important during one’s career search. You may have a meeting where management is talking about ‘new direction’ or you may see a shift in office culture/personnel – pick up on these cues. Is the boss saying one thing but doing the opposite – the ability to accurately read situations will help in all phases of one’s career.
Reading people can help when you are in the job application process. During an interview, is the interviewer interested in more the details or big ideas? What is the employer looking for in an IT management hire – managerial skills or technical expertise? Is the interviewer looking for more energy from you or a reserved approach? Is the time right to go all-in and say, “I want this role, what reservations do you have – what questions do you have – that I can address now to help you in deciding I am the right person for this position?”
Being able to read a situation can help you in dating or your career search. While some individuals are better at this than others, if we pay attention there are usually plenty of verbal and non-verbal clues as to what the other person is thinking. Too often, we hear what we want to hear from others, thus confirming our own thoughts. Be sure to listen carefully and observe the non-verbal cues as well.
When in doubt, and if you really had a great date/interview, I am for the ‘all-in’ approach. Try for the kiss, if you get shot down, you probably were going to get shot down when you asked for a second date. Ask for the job, if you get declined, you probably were going to be declined no matter if you made the ask or not. Be bold, lean in and you may be surprised that the action is reciprocated.
Next: Beyond the First Date