How the Job Search and Your Love Life Are the Same

Okay, comparing a job search to dating is not exactly new. I Googled the phrase “job hunting is like dating” and found more than 9,500 results. So, yeah, I realize I’m not breaking new ground here. But I thought it might be fun to explore some new similarities, hopefully moving beyond parallels like “play it cool, don’t be desperate” and “most of it is done online these days.”

It’s easy to fall in love

When out at a bar or party, you’ll probably encounter a mix of good looking and average looking people (depending on where you live). When a really good looking one catches your eye, it’s easy to become enamored, for the night or even for days.

Job hunting is the same way – you sift through the lame or average jobs and then, every once in a while, you happen upon one that gets you excited. You start to picture yourself with that job and how it would make your life better. You think how much better that job would be than your last job, or how much better you’d look with this new job and all its prestige. Finding a good one is important, and I’m all for giving it a shot, even if it’s a long shot. Just don’t let it paralyze or distract you from all the other options. I know I’ve gotten hung up on “dream jobs” in the past, and sometimes you let it get the better of you. Stay ambitious but level headed.

It’s easy to get shot down

Sadly, most job applications don’t work out the way you plan, much like most romantic overtures don’t all work out (at least they didn’t for me :)). And the worst part is, no matter how badly you want a certain job, or a certain person, sometimes it’s just not a good fit. They might already have their eye on another candidate, they might not be hiring, or they might just not be interested in working with you (all parallels intended). When that happens, you need to pick up the pieces and move on.

The most important aspect of getting shot down (in love or jobs) is to keep looking. Just having something to work toward, some project to keep you excited, will give you purpose. And as we learned from “The Matrix,” purpose is everything.

What to consider before committing

After a while, dating and the job search get old, and we just get tired of looking. The urge to get on with your life, contribute to a team, and make some money becomes too strong (all parallels except the last one intended). When that happens, it’s easy to accept the first offer you get (and maybe do something you regret). So keep these things in mind before committing.

  1. Where you work says something about you. Say you’ve been out of work for a while, a long while. You might even call it a drought. Then you get an opportunity at a less-than-reputable company, one you never thought you’d consider but that you’re suddenly weighing. Sure, signing on with that company might get you through the dry spell, but the reputation will follow you longer than you think.The place where you work says something about you, and you could have difficulty explaining that stint to a future prospective employer. The parallel here is pretty obvious, if you go home with sketchy people, you’re going to become “that” guy or girl. Yeah, settling might satisfy your short term needs, but you’ll probably regret it, and you’ll have to explain it for years.

  3. Remember that expectations are important. You might think, “Oh, I’ll just work here until something better comes along,” the same way you might think you’ll date a person until someone better comes along. But there’s a problem: the company or person might not have the same idea. What if they are hiring you with the expectation that you’ll be with them for a long time? You’ll burn bridges rapidly if you give them the impression you’ll be long term, only to bail for the next best offer. Yup, same with relationships – don’t be a phony because eventually you’ll get burned.

  5. Settling can be dangerous. How many people do you know who have been at a job they hate for years? How many people have been talking about quitting their crappy job forever? I know plenty of people like that! All the stories start the same way:  the person takes a job they don’t want because they have to (or think they have to), then they stop looking for jobs because looking for jobs usually sucks (though it could be better). Complacency sets in, usually followed by laziness, and suddenly they are 10 years into a job that was never a great fit.We’ve all seen these relationships too. Someone is in a relationship that just isn’t very good. It’s not bad, but it’s clearly not a good fit. But, the person doesn’t want to be alone anymore, all their friends have significant others, and dating is exhausting. So rather than facing the dating scene, they just stay in the same unfulfilling relationship for years. And it all started because they settled at the beginning. The take away here is, be careful about settling because the intended short-term easily becomes the unintended long-term before you know it.

The job search/dating parallels are meant to provide another way of looking at both endeavors. Think about how you approach your dating life, what you’ve learned, and maybe look at your job search through that lens. Then do the same with your job search and examine your love life through that lens. Hopefully, considering both experiences will lead you to a fulfilling relationship with a solid partner.

Tim Murphy is a member of the Brazen Life Contributor Network.


  1. I love the comparison and your take on it. I am a firm believer in not wasting your time in life and this goes the same whether it be at a job, pertaining to a friendship, a relationship etc. Great points!

    • Thanks, Rachael. So glad you enjoyed, and I couldn’t agree more. The job search/dating scene is exhausting enough, we don’t need to waste time pining for relationships that will never materialize. Thanks for reading and for the comment :) !


  2. Anonymous

    Great post! I think the comparisons between job hunting and dating are endless, and you’ve got some great new takes here. I like the emphasis you place on what a job does for YOU–so often in dating (and job hunting) we are so eager to find a match that we don’t stop to consider whether or not it’s the right one.

    • Thanks, Noel! Yeah, I can remember times where I just got so carried away thinking about a particular job I wanted that I started to neglect other opportunities that were obviously a better match. Oh, and it might have happened with girls once or twice too… :)


  3. Regina Richardson

    ah, the cleansing power of almost snorting coffee through one’s nose…all I saw was the title and I started laughing…EXCELLENT post…very timely, too. We won’t get into that, though. :) The best part (?) about job hunting, though, is that 98% of the resources are free, unlike dating/matching sites…so there’s that in job hunting’s favor. 😉

    • Hi Regina –

      Glad you liked the post! And it was “timely” too, eh?? OK, I won’t pry :).

      Good point on job search resources being free. Way to find that silver lining!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment – definitely made me smile!


  4. Niki

    That was an entertaining article…..I never put those two aspects of life together until now. Interesting, how much that can show about someones character.

    • Hi Niki,
      Glad you liked! I agree, both processes are character revealing, and I really think that’s important to remember. Thanks a lot for reading and for the comment!

  5. Anonymous

    Great article – so unbelievably true! Very timely for me-particularly given I’m unemployed and am a full-time job searcher! However, I have a question for the community (strictly regarding job searching.) Lets say you’re made a job offer for a position that leverages your background & experiences, and would give a decent paycheck, but its not what you see yourself doing long term. However, you are in conversations regarding several positions that are more in line with your goals. You haven’t interviewed yet, but could in the next few weeks.
    What would you do? Any advice would be much appreciated:)

    • Hi Megan,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article – it was fun to write!

      Excellent question – I’ll start things off and hopefully others can offer suggestions as well. Congrats on the offer! It’s always nice to get a firm offer, especially if you’re a full-time job seeker. While I do caution against promiscuous job hoping, that doesn’t mean you have to stay at every job for ten years. It’s completely legitimate for you to take a job – especially one that leverages your background and experiences – even if you don’t see yourself staying there forever. If you’re nervous about your future there, maybe talk with the employer about growth potential and ways you can develop within the company. You might be able to tailor the job to more of what you want.

      As for taking the job instead of holding out for interviews and offers from other companies, that obviously depends on your situation and how urgently you need a job. If you can hold out for a while and you’ve seen offers come pretty easily, holding out could make sense. But if you have been looking for a while, and this is one of the few (or the only) offer you’ve received, you should consider taking it. If it’s in your experience level, and wouldn’t be a step down or anything like that, it could be a good and rare opportunity.

      Lastly, I’d say to beware the elusive perfect or ideal job. The grass will always be greener, and a firm offer from a legit company that’s in your experience area is tough to pass up in favor of a company you haven’t interviewed with yet. Again, it depends on your situation, but I don’t want you holding out forever while concrete job passes.

      I hope that helps!


  6. Great post Tim. Fun topic too. Dating has always been and will always be like a job search! The first point you make is a strong one. Starting with, “When out at a bar or party, you’ll probably encounter a mix of good looking and average looking people…” Not the right environment, and being judgment impaired, is not the right way to find your everlasting. If you want to find your dream job, then get in the right frame of mind, put yourself in the right job search and career networking situations, and do proper research on positions and companies that interest you.

    Second point, getting “shot down” should be expected, and anticipated. I’ve found that if one object of your desire shoots you down, then you should ask her equally attractive friend to dance next. You already made the commitment to ask for a dance once, try again with others within her circle of friends. Rejection is part of the game. If you are keeping up with your industry trends, properly researching companies in the industry, and staying connected with friends and associates in your profession, then you have a really good chance of getting the job you want. But, if you are rejected by one company, keep your chin up, and use the opportunity to strengthen your network and interviewing skills for the next company, which is probably their competition. If you prepared yourself well for the first company interview, then you will be even better prepared for the interview with the second company.

    The job market is very competitive. Continuing with the “ask the friend to dance” theme, you may find that jobs in your specialty are exceedingly rare. If this is the case, you can leverage your knowledge and experience in your profession to prove your versatility in another industry. Know your skills and capabilities, know what you want to do, look for the right company fit for you, and don’t be dissuaded by rejection. Great things are bound to happen if you do!

    • Nice point, Amorrison. “Rejection is part of the game” – so true. And that’s definitely not a pessimistic way of looking at things either. The simple fact is that everyone will be disappointed in their job search at some point. So much better to be aware of and comfortable with that fact. That way, when disappointment comes, adhering to your “ask others to dance” mantra is that much easier. Thanks for the insightful comment!


  7. Jo

    Just to add another perspective, the same can apply to employers.

    I love this site, but I fall in the over 50 crowd. I’m well educated, skilled and experienced. Not bad looking either, if I say so myself.

    But I think employers fall into the trap of wanting all my assets wrapped in an under 30 supermodel package. Being entranced by the digitally perfected visual as we are daily, it’s easy to overlook the daisy in favor of the exotic orchid.

    Now if I could only convince employers of this!

    • Hi Jo,
      Huh, so you are saying that some of the challenges that job seekers face (Getting shot down, what to consider before committing, don’t settle, etc.) are also challenges for employers? Just want to be sure I follow. :)

      • Jo

        Just to clarify, I think employers can get stuck on the “dream candidate” and overlook some excellent choices because the packaging is not new and improved!

  8. This is such a fresh perspective. I think a lot of people are in agreement, but because it’s so hard to actually land a job these days, they may feel like settling is the better option. And, if you do think that you can “pretend” to want to stick around long-term when you really have every intention of bolting at the next great offer, there’s no way they’ll want to speak highly of you if contacted. The prospective employer might also think you’re just doing the same thing to them.

    • Hi Kaleigh,

      Totally agree – I actually had a hard time explaining a few job moves during an interview. They were concerned that I was a hopper, and that I’d do the same to them. In actuality I wasn’t a hopper, but had moved cities lot and changed jobs as a result (not the other way around). So people should definitely be aware that those frequent moves can definitely come back to bite us in the ass! :)

      Thanks for the comment!


  9. There is no perfect job, just there is no perfect date. Why settle at a job or with a person, if there’s no future? I live in NYC, people date and move onto the next one all the time. It’s expected. Companies are picky about who they hire, just like people are picky about who they date. I interned in college at well-known television companies, but upon graduation, wasn’t put on the team full-time. That’s like flirting with someone and not getting a date out of it.
    I left college four years ago and have seen former classmates get jobs at well-known media companies that are very picky about hiring. They have a future at the company and have advanced in a short amount of time. They are sort of married to their industry or company.

  10. Kathleentkurke

    I just read a great novel that makes this point come to life: “Harpers Rules” by Danny Cahill. Check it out! Great read with lots of application, both on the job and off.

  11. Russmoon

    “Someone is in a relationship that just isn’t very good. It’s not bad, but it’s clearly not a good fit. But, the person doesn’t want to be alone anymore, all their friends have significant others, and dating is exhausting. So rather than facing the dating scene, they just stay in the same unfulfilling relationship for years. And it all started because they settled at the beginning. The take away here is, be careful about settling because the intended short-term easily becomes the unintended long-term before you know it.”

    This piece is why I exist, to help International Taxation professionals who “wake up” and realize they have settled but it is time to move towards something more fulfilling.

    Like the dating scene, what can seem like “The One” turns out to be a total imposter when you actually find “The One”.

  12. Trishdc

    Excellent post! I remember when I was going through a career dry spell and other less, desirable opportunities suddenly seemed so wonderful. lol Great insight here, and the parallels funny.

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