Finding a job is like dating…

No, really. It’s true. Let me illustrate this with a story:

Earlier this week I was at a local networking event. I was talking with a few guys I know about to startup one of them had launched. This guy was developing specialty cameras for precision measurement in a variety of manufacturing applications. He had one of the cameras taken apart to show all of the cool parts inside, and we were discussing the biggest challenges in getting this product to market.

An engineering student was hovering nearby with his resume in hand, and it was very clear to the group that he was waiting to talk to ‘Camera Startup-Guy.’ As our conversation continued, he seemed to get more and more impatient, clearly focused on the short-term outcome he was after: getting his resume into the hand of a guy who might give him a job. It was also clear the student did not realize that Camera Startup-Guy knew he was about to be accosted, and was not particularly interested. ’Desperate Student’ persisted, and finally broke into the conversation to give Camera Startup-Guy his spiel and his resume, only to be sent away with a quick comment that his small company had no openings at the moment.

This was a wasted effort.  Desperate Student would’ve been far more effective if he had engaged in the discussion and asked some questions that displayed a genuine desire to understand the technology and how Camera Startup-Guy was hoping to use it to make a difference in the world.  With the right questions he may have created an opportunity to make a few clever suggestions that displayed his competence and quick thinking.  This may have gotten Camera Startup-Guy’s attention and resulted in more conversation.  Instead he chose to force himself on the guy, and got turned down immediately. If Desperate Student ever runs into Camera Startup-Guy again, he is not likely to get a positive response.

Like with dating, a high-pressure approach or cheap pick-up lines are not the way to make a high-quality connection. A far better way is to play the long game, show genuine interest, and see what develops. It may not go as fast as you would like, but the ultimate outcome is far better.

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