What do you do when you're looking for a potential mate? Go to the gym, go out on dates, go places you like. Ask around to see who's still single or newly single. Think about the time and energy you devote to dating, which if successful, will comprise maybe 20% of your waking hours. Now think about your career. You probably spend about 50% of your waking hours at your desk, commuting, or traveling for work.
When we're dating, we're very specific and choosy about whom we'll spend 20% of our time with. Yet often times, we settle for the first job that comes along that meets very little of our criteria, often money. Would you be willing to spend the next three to five years with a mate just because you had one nice meal? Of course not. But that's exactly what we do when we're deciding on our next job – we have a couple of great interviews and the money's good, so we agree to join the company and then stay until a better one comes along. Where's the passion in this picture? I say, it's time to have a love affair with your next job!
The good news is that this is easier than you think. Just remember what AFFAIR stands for:
- A - Admiration - Love Your Work
- FF - Faking Fails - If You Fake Who You Are, You'll Be Miserable in Your Next Job
- A - Acceptance - What Are You Willing to Compromise?
- I - Intermingling - Interviewing Not Just Any Company, But the Cream of the Crop Companies
- R - Reward - A Job You Love and Pays the Bills
ADMIRATION. We often have an idea of what our ideal mate looks like. Hair texture and color, eye color, physique, the sound of his or her voice. Likewise, this is the first step to take when you search for your next job. That's why magazines often promote the top companies to work for - these are companies that people admire. What kind of employer do you admire? Think about the job environment. Do you want to aspire to a window office, or do you prefer open environments where everyone's equally accessible?
Think about the perfect boss who is dying to have you work on interesting projects and promote you at every opportunity. Think about the colleagues you're working with and how you might realistically interact with them at networking events. Can you see yourself bowling with them, or perhaps having each other's families over for dinner? Visualize yourself in the office kitchen at 3pm in the afternoon singing “Happy Birthday" with your colleagues. Who do you want to be singing with? Imagining your ideal job in great detail puts your intention into motion.
FAKING FAILS. Be yourself – otherwise once you get the job you'll just have to keep on faking. Have you heard of anyone who sent out over 200 resumes in their job search? Are you one of them? As in dating, it is highly unattractive to solicit yourself to every available employer and then call for days on end asking if they love you and want to marry you, figuratively speaking. Be a little choosy here. Employers want to know you're a good catch. How can you be selective?
Well, you can reach out to your friends, family, and trusted colleagues. Have a hobby you love? Join a group. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Join networking groups in your area of expertise and volunteer for those activities that sound fun, even if they add a bit more time to your schedule. The key here is to do only those things that you absolutely love. If you're joining just to get noticed, you've missed the point. Just as in dating, you're more likely to meet your potential mate, or employer, when you're simply being yourself and having fun!
ACCEPTANCE. Now here's the kicker. Be willing to accept less than perfection. I know, this goes against the first “A for Admiration" in designing your ideal employer. But really, do you know of anyone who has the perfect significant other? With dating, you can love someone and be willing to compromise on shortcomings. It's the same with a potential employer. Know your core values and beliefs so that you're clear in your interviews what you must have and what you're willing to let slide.
Let's say you're interviewing to work in an advertising agency and you're a creative person who loves flexibility and wants a boss who provides lots of autonomy but is accessible for brainstorming when you're in a rut. Let's say you crave open space with ping pong tables and dart boards in a creative war room environment. But let's say that this agency's clients are predominantly traditional corporations with organizational hierarchies, long approval processes, micromanagement of details, and slow to act.
Are you willing to accept those shortcomings? Or are you really looking to work for a smaller boutique agency with a lesser-known client roster and possibly less salary potential? These are the types of considerations that if you decide in advance, will not be surprising to you after the new job honeymoon is over.
Congratulations…now you're INTERMINGLING! Over the past few months you've been joining groups and meeting people and having the time of your life. Now you've even gotten yourself some very interesting interviews. Not just any company, but companies that people you trust have referred you to. And you have an “in" since these people know and love you, and are essentially setting you up on blind dates, or interviews – telling both sides that you guys are meant to be soul mates together.
Try not to go crazy memorizing all those interviewing questions. The good companies don't rely on such trite questions such as, “If you were an animal, what kind of animal you would be?" Or the completely unrealistic one, “So where do you see yourself in five years?" As if any company would be willing to sign you on for five years without the possibility of layoffs.
Again, think of the interviewing process as a night out on a date, so to speak. How does your gut feel as you're talking with your interviewer? Is this somebody you'd want to go out with day after day? Is it easy for you to strike up a conversation with the interviewer? Do you find you're stumbling upon your words, or worse, that you're completely bored? Is she or he really listening to what you're saying by repeating back to you what you've said? Better yet, do you feel like a couple of good friends laughing and having a great time? Really try to use the cues your body is sending you - try not to think so much with your head. Are you in love with this person? Let's hope so, because you'll be spending more time with him or her than with your significant other!
REWARD. Nobody enjoys dating people that are not right for them. But until you date them, you really don't know whether there's a fit. When you finally do date someone that's the right fit, it feels completely effortless to make each other laugh and enjoy each other's company. You're on top of the world. If you've been less than honest with yourself or your mate, it doesn't take that long before you're each finding little faults that can't be overlooked. But if you've both been authentic with each other, that bliss continues and grows deeper and deeper. Think about what this means in your job.
For example, if you love the glamorous entertainment industry, you're probably going to be thrilled working for many of the companies in Los Angeles. Likewise if your heart is in supporting traditional American families, perhaps you'll feel exuberantly alive working for a company that promotes family conveniences, or nurturing family activities. When you treat your job search with the love and passion of a brewing sordid affair, you'll truly look forward to work each day. You'll do all those little extras that are so important in the beginning of a relationship. You'll continue to learn and grow. Your job will be joyful. And more than likely, you'll get paid very well to do it!
So, have you decided? Do you want a long-term unfulfilling relationship, or do you want to have a love affair with your next job? The choice is yours.
Nichole Santoro is a life coach and career coach with Career Salon who believes we each have a special purpose to serve humankind by using our unique talents and desires. Nichole helps inspire GenX women to evaluate and redesign their careers to fit closely with their ideal lifestyle and values. Visit http://www.CareerSalon.com/ to design a happy and healthy career for you.