Have you been hopping around from job to job but you’re ready to settle into a career for the long haul?
Have you been dating around but you’re finally ready to get married?
Those two questions might not sound like they’re closely related, but in many ways, these two situations mirror one another.
You can “date” different career paths and companies a lot like you date people. This is how you find out what you like, and don’t like, before settling into something long-term (a career path or a partnership/marriage).
In many ways, how you build a strong relationship with your career is similar to how you build a romantic relationship. You want to make a good decision that’s mutually beneficial to you and your employer or partner.
As a member of the talent acquisition team here at Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), I help match candidates with their ideal career paths. Just think of me as a relationship coach in this scenario.
In this article, I’ll help you make a smart decision about your career — whether you’re pursuing a new career (dating to marry) or you’re thinking about leaving your current long-term career (divorcing).
Settling Down with a Career: Finding “The One”
Job-hopping and dating aren’t dissimilar. Just like people may date around to see what they do and don’t like, they may hop around to different jobs to see what career they want to pursue. For instance, if you like marketing and graphic design, you might try out careers in both industries to see what you like better.
If you’ve dated around a bit and you’re ready to get settled, there are a few questions you should ask in your interview — which are very similar to the ones you might ask yourself if you’re looking to settle down with someone and make a commitment.
- Do our values align?
- Will we have more good days than bad days?
- Is there an opportunity for growth?
- Will I look forward to going to work each day?
Think of your interviews with potential employers as a round of speed dating. The interview is your chance to find out as much as you can about the company and determine if it’s a good fit for you.
Let’s break each of these questions down to the core of what they’re really asking about.
Values alignment can be a big deal for couples — so much so that it’s often a dealbreaker. In fact, some dating sites even let you filter out potential matches based on things like political affiliation, religion, desire to have children and so on.
For example, if you really want children, you probably don’t want to get into a relationship with someone who’s vehemently against children and won’t budge on their stance. Values alignment is crucial to the success of long-term relationships.
When you align, it means you’re going in the same direction. You share similar values, passions and visions for the future. If you don’t align, it can take a serious toll on your relationship and make it feel difficult.
The same goes for values alignment in the workplace. If your values align with the core values of the company you’re interviewing with, you’re more likely to find job satisfaction with that employer.
For example, you may value integrity and respect in the workplace. If the company seems pretty lax about deadlines, cuts corners and doesn’t treat its employees with respect, your core values definitely don’t align. It’ll be very difficult to work for a company that doesn’t have similar values to you — especially if you’re looking to stay with the company for the long haul.
Before you even go into the interview, look at the company’s website. Read their mission statement and their values. How do they align with yours? Then, in the interview, ask the hiring manager to elaborate on the values and how they’re demonstrated in the workplace.
Good collaboration is the key to any good relationship — whether that’s collaboration with your teammates or your romantic partner. If you can’t work together with your partner or spouse, you might not last long term. More likely than not, you’ll spend a lot of time fighting.
The same goes for your relationships in the workplace. If you can’t collaborate with your teammates, you’re going to struggle to get things done. You may end up either fighting with your coworkers or isolating yourself.
When you’re interviewing, make sure you ask questions about culture. Here are some ideas. Be sure to find out how the team works together, how they prefer to communicate with each other and so on.
Couples often seek growth in their relationships. As we age, we change — especially as we deal with and overcome life’s challenges. Successful couples grow together as they navigate change. If you can’t grow together, you grow apart.
Most people seek growth out of their careers, too — whether that means moving up the company ladder or growing as a professional and improving in their position No one wants to feel stagnant in their job role. It can make coming to work each day a dreadful experience. You might feel like you’re not going anywhere or you’re not trusted by leadership to develop your skills and try new things.
Make sure you seek out an employer who offers a career path that satisfies your needs. When interviewing, ask what your first 90 days will look like, who you’ll be reporting to and if you’ll have room to grow under that supervisor.
Obviously, you should have fun with your partner. You should enjoy your time together, especially if this is the person you’ve decided to spend your life with.
In the workplace, there’s always some room for fun. You should also enjoy what you do every day. It’ll be tough to marry yourself to a job if you don’t even like the job. Hate numbers and math? Don’t choose a role as an accountant.
You’ll get a good feel for whether team members enjoy their jobs by asking them to describe their favorite part of their role or what they like about the company. Take a moment to observe team members in the halls, too. Do they look happy? Do they smile at each other?
Divorcing Your Career: When It’s Time for a Fresh Start
Picture this: You’ve been with a company for several years, but then you get an offer elsewhere you can’t refuse. The grass looks greener so you make a hasty decision to quit your job and start a new one. But soon after, you realize the new place isn’t all that great. The longer you stay there, the progressively worse it gets. You end up going back to the company you were with originally.
In the situation above, you may regret having made such a hasty decision. Before up and quitting your long-term career, or divorcing it, take some time with the decision. Weigh the pros and cons; this isn’t a decision you ever want to regret.
You may love your company (or your spouse), but you’ve had a few bad weeks — maybe even a few bad months. Maybe you lost a customer or a big pitch. Maybe you’ve been stressed with mounds of work and you’re working lately. Instead of quitting, or opting for that divorce, maybe it’s time to determine if you can fix it first.
While married couples would probably go to counseling to work through their issues, in the workplace you can talk to human resources (HR), your supervisor or a trusted leader about problems you may be having in your role or with a coworker. They can help you navigate the situation and provide solutions to overcome the problem you’re working through. Or, they can advise you on different options you can pursue within the company — such as getting a new manager or switching departments.
Before leaving, try to communicate through the conflict and come to a solution.
It's also important to recognize that sometimes it’s time to leave your career and get that divorce. Maybe your values truly didn’t align. You’re not collaborating like you used to, you’re not having fun anymore and you’re feeling stagnant in your role.
Nail Your First Impression
Just as in a romantic relationship, finding alignment in values, seeking collaboration and growth and finding enjoyment are crucial factors to consider when settling down with a career or looking for a new one.
Aligning your values with your employer’s is essential for job satisfaction and a successful long-term partnership. Similarly, collaboration is key to both personal and professional relationships, as the ability to work together with others determines the overall success and fulfillment in both contexts. Seeking growth and development in your career, whether through advancing within the company or acquiring new skills, mirrors the need for personal growth in a romantic partnership. Finally, enjoying your work and finding fulfillment in your job is vital for maintaining a long-lasting commitment, just as enjoying the company of your partner contributes to a healthy and fulfilling marriage.
However, if you find yourself in a career that no longer aligns with your values, lacks collaboration, inhibits growth or fails to bring you enjoyment, it may be time to consider a change.
It’s important to remember that the journey toward finding the right career, just like the journey toward finding a life partner, may involve learning from mistakes and experiencing failures along the way. Embracing these experiences as opportunities for growth and self-discovery will ultimately lead to finding a career that aligns with your passions and values, bringing you long-term fulfillment and success.
So, whether you are ready to settle down with a career or considering divorcing your current one, remember that every step in your journey matters and contributes to your personal and professional growth. Embrace the lessons learned, remain open to new possibilities and trust that the right career, like the right partner, is out there waiting for you.
Remember, first impressions matter in dating and in your first interview. These tips will help you nail every interview.