When people first learn about my blog, oftentimes I hear, “That’s a clever name for a blog. How did you come up with it?” I answer, “I really DID have 42 blind dates,” and then I share a bit of my history and how I got to where I am now – helping professionals who are stuck in their career or job search apply the lessons I learned as I made my way in the job-seeking/career-management/dating arena.
Another question I frequently get is, “How did you manage to have 42 blind dates?” Well, every successful job seeker knows that one of the keys to success is to “put yourself out there.” The more people you meet, the more people you will meet. And you’ll learn something about yourself with each new connection: what you need and don’t need from a relationship; where you are willing to compromise; what you enjoy doing and prefer to never do again; what you value most and how finding someone with similar values can dramatically strengthen your connection.
I knew if I was ever to get “unstuck” from where I landed when I lost my “job,” I needed to be proactive. So I joined a dating club.
When I embarked on this dating excursion, I wasn’t exactly sure where it would take me, but I knew if I was ever to get “unstuck” from where I landed when I lost my “job” as a wife and stay-at-home mother, I needed to be proactive. So I joined a dating club.
This was pre-Internet days (yes, I am that old!) and services like Match.com and eHarmony were not an option. Instead, the agency I used was a one-woman operation. She had me fill out a paper application, which she then filed, along with all the other “candidate” applications. Then she set about reading and comparing applicants, noting similarities and making a match. Within no time at all, I began receiving little note cards in the mail that read, “We at Update wish to introduce you to…” followed by the name, address and phone number of “Mr. Right” and a note stating that I could feel free to call Update if I wanted more information.
Then the “interviews” began!
Those of you who are reading this and are over 40 may recall that the process was somewhat similar to how one went about applying for jobs. If you are under 40, ask your parents to tell you stories about filling out paper applications and being called by interested employers. It will sound crazy to those who rely on technology to manage every important – as well as trivial – aspect of their lives!
Technology has changed the way people find suitable matches.
But, the reason I am sharing this story with you is because, as we all know, technology has changed the way people find suitable matches – whether they be mates or jobs. When one signs up for Match.com or eHarmony, a computer is doing the matching. Using keywords and algorithms, two people are brought together on the basis of what appears to be a potentially mutually, beneficial relationship. Sometimes the computer gets it right (but having heard from friends and relatives that have used these services, more often the computer gets it wrong).
You may be the most qualified, awesome “date” the hiring manager could ever meet, but any chance of an introduction has been eliminated by a computer.
The same thing is happening in the job search arena. Employers are using computers to match candidates to their jobs. Known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), these software packages streamline the process of receiving, scanning, and storing resumes. Using keywords and algorithms, they are programmed to “read” every incoming résumé to see how well the candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience match the job description. Each résumé is scored and ranked. Those candidates who rank highest are contacted for interviews – a blind date, so to speak. And those that rank low? Well, those candidates get an automated email that states something to the effect of, “We have received your application, will be reviewing it carefully, and call you if you are a match.” Sadly, the computer that generates that message has nothing more to go on than the words you put in your résumé. You may be the most qualified, awesome “date” the hiring manager could ever meet, but any chance of an introduction has been eliminated by a computer.
So, what’s a job seeker to do?
The next thing you know you start accepting dates (aka interviews) from employers who are not a good match.
First, stop submitting the same résumé to every job posting that catches your eye. Unless you customize the résumé to match the knowledge, skills and experience listed in the job announcement, it’s almost a slam dunk that you will be rejected. No one likes being rejected and no matter how much you try to tell yourself, “It’s not me, it’s them,” eventually your ego really takes a beating. The next thing you know you start accepting dates (aka interviews) from employers who are not a good match and accepting jobs that often turn into bad relationships – possibly even leaving you “single” again.
The most effective way to find employment is quite similar to the way I found my current husband 20 years ago…
Don’t hand your job search over to a computer. In situations where you must, then take the time to customize your résumé and cover letter and give the computer what it is looking for. The most effective way to find employment is quite similar to the way I found my current husband 20 years ago…
- Put yourself out there.
- Meet as many people as you can.
- Approach every interview as an opportunity to learn about a company, a position and yourself.
- Develop a clear vision of what you are seeking.
- Don’t compromise your values or agree to take less than you want and deserve.
- Pay attention to the warning signs that this may not be a good fit and learn to say “Thanks but no thanks.”
Apply this advice and then shoot me an email or LinkedIn message and let me know that you have gotten unstuck and things have shifted in your favor!