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?
Whenever I think of the term “Going Steady”, I am instantly transported back to watching episodes of Happy Days. Back when couples went “steady” the term meant there was a level of commitment between two people – they would not date other people, they were a ‘couple’. The term indicates to others that one has an exclusive relationship with another person where there were expectations that each side is expected to honor (regular communication, not dating other people, availability for dates, etc.).
While not a lifelong commitment, ‘Going Steady’ occurs after a considerable amount of time dating and getting to know one another. As would happen on the set of Happy Days, there was usually a declaration of some sort when one would ask another to go steady. For example, Richie would let MaryBeth wear his letterman’s sweater or Ralph Malph may ‘pin’ his girlfriend at the dance as a way to declare that he wanted to go steady.
An employment offer is akin to someone asking you to go steady. There has been a period of time getting to know each other (interviewing), there seems to be a certain level of connection between you and the employer, and now the employer is ready to take the relationship to the next level. By offering a job, the employer is asking one for a commitment of exclusivity – that you will not continue to interview and secure other job offersduring this time. There are expectations that are assumed and spelled out (you will show up to work prepared and on time, you will communicate when you won’t be able to attend, the company will pay you $X dollars for said work, etc.) with an employment offer.
And just like a letterman’s sweater or pin when asking someone to go steady, there is a declaration of commitment in the employment sector in the form of the offer letter. In the offer letter, the commitment expectations are spelled out to the receiver (pay, start date, work schedule, job title, etc.) and the individual is expected to reply.
Once you receive the offer, one must decide if he/she is ready to make the commitment. While not a lifelong commitment, one should enter the process with a long term view of at least a year. While not all work relationships will last even this long, it is good to go into a situation thinking a minimum of 12 months so as to avoid making a commitment and continuing a job search at the same time.
Next installment, Relationship on the Rocks.