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?
Relationship on the Rocks:
The glow of a new relationship has faded and you now realize Mr./Ms. Dreamboat is not perfect. The more time we spend with a partner, we realize some of the quirks and annoying habits of the other person. Some of the habits can be changed (ex: clipping toe nails at the dinner table, drinking straight from the milk container) while other are a permanent part of who we are (ex: high-pitched laugh, loud sneeze).
The same phenomenon happens on the job. After a few months (maybe sooner), you begin to see your job and employer through non-rose colored glasses. No job can be exciting every single day or on every single project. Every boss/coworker is going to have a bad day and say something to ruffle your feathers. It is statistically impossible to think one would agree with management’s every decision. This is a time of awakening to see that no one and no entity is perfect.
So what is one to do when the relationship is on the rocks?
The worst thing (in my opinion) to do during a rough patch in a relationship is to stop communicating. Now, you may need to take time for a cooling off period or to think through some issues, but keeping the lines of communication open is a critical step in keeping the relationship alive. Your willingness to talk demonstrates to your partner your interest in trying to make things work. When you close the door to communication, you have essentially ended the relationship.
At work, it is important to keep the lines of communication open when things are rough. Let your supervisor know what projects you are working on, continue to participate in meetings, interact with coworkers, etc. – if you become a recluse at the office you are communicating to others that you are no longer engaged at work.
Some individuals may feel comfortable in confiding in their bosses about their situation, others should seek out mentors and other trusted advisers to obtain advice on steps to take to improve the current work landscape. Remember, rehashing all the negative points is not a smart move in your communications with your partner, neither is highlighting all the negatives when discussing your job. Instead, focus on the positives and brainstorm on how to have more of these positive moments/projects in your work (or dating) future.
More Attractive When Dating Someone
Has this ever happened to you? When you are a free agent on the dating scene, you are treated like a 2011 calendar on 12/31/11, there are very few people (ie: none) interested in you. Then, when you begin a relationship, inevitably someone says “It is great that you are dating (insert name), you know I always thought we would have made a good pair/couple.” What! Where was this person three months ago when your Saturday nights were open?
Just as it seems that more people want to date you when you are dating someone else, the same is true that you are more employable when you are employed. It goes to the concept that if someone else finds you date-able/worthy of employment, there must be something good about you. And the opposite (harder to find work when unemployed) has been a tough reality faced by many during this recession. This concept is important to remember when your work relationship is on the rocks, you may want to try to salvage the relationship in order to make yourself more attractive to future employers.
The last installment (for now): Breaking Up is Hard to Do