Rethinking Job Seeker Motivation: The Dating Game

by Andrew Stott

(also published at LinkedIn Career Services Professionals Group  – 17/03/2014 – )


Motivating the job seeker to work diligently through the steps needed to maximise success in each selection process can be a big challenge.  Encouraging the job seeker to apply a dating mindset to target employers can help.

The MBA job seeker is typically a smart, successful student immersed in an intensive course program, so often vastly underestimates the importance of the undemanding but time-consuming tasks required to be competitive in selection processes. Career services professionals can feel frustrated if job seekers do not make the effort to use the information and tools provided to succeed in their job search.  

So how can you use the dating analogy to make a difference?

 Step 1 – Drawing the analogy

If you can get your job seekers to acknowledge that happiness in their job is just as important as happiness at home (and in many case jobs last longer than relationships), then it should follow that for many, more effort is required for “dating” their dream job and employer!  Showing them through selection data that, like the dating game, job searching is competitive, so they need to be proactive. And, like dating, being out of the market for a few years has probably left them out of touch with the new rules of the game!

Step 2 – Finding the right match

Some job seekers do not know what they are looking for. Help them define some broad parameters depending on their own qualities and experience (TARGET). Focus is important. They wouldn’t send their photo to 100 dating partners (would they?!), so why send a CV to 100 employers? Find out more about employers first; only a few will “fit” with the job seeker’s profile (RESEARCH). How many blind “dates” can they cope with?

Step 3 – Tailoring profile and application

Like dating, job searching has been transformed by technology. How would the job seeker use social media to project his/her personal profile? So, why not do the same when job hunting?  Help them to think about using LinkedIn and other media as they might think about professional dating services. Make sure they make their application is personal to the job and employer (APPLY): just like a date, your target employer wants to feel special!

Step 4 – Preparing for the first “date”

Push them to prepare for first interviews just like they might for first dates (INTERVIEW).  What should they consider about their appearance? What are appropriate discussion topics? What are the really important things they need to find out? How would they respond to awkward questions? Should they call or write the day after? And so on.

Step 5 – Negotiating the “proposal”

If they are successful in interviews, they may get more than one job offer. Help them negotiate and decide if they are ready to say “I do” (NEGOTIATE).  Mapping offers against their original objectives can help them apply a rational approach to what can be an emotional decision.

Find out about our TRAIN methodology (Target-Research-Apply-Interview-Negotiate) at