Dangling Carrots

I ™ve said it before: job hunting is a lot like dating. For me, dating seems like such a long time ago. Yet I ™m constantly reminded of it during my job search.

help wanted ad black and white newspaper

My strategy in dating was to cast a wide net in an attempt to find Mr. Right, or at least Mr. New Friend. It was hard work, networking with friends, accepting almost any invitation despite the long hours of prep work it required, including what to wear, gathering input from friends and working on strategy. Men have no idea how much time women spend selecting the right shoes to go with our date outfit.

I ™d chuckle at all this planning, thinking It's just dinner, right ? LOL! One time I said as much to a dear friend who had accepted a date with a new guy, someone that none of us knew. As she came to me for advice, I boldly stated, Go with him! It's just a movie; you're not marrying him . Joke was on all of us as I stood at their wedding a year later.

The casting a wide net  part of my dating strategy eventually translated into my job searches. Just to be clear, I ™m happily married and not looking for dates; we're just talking about jobs now. Hubby is breathing a sigh of relief.

When I was happily working full-time, I also had a job-search strategy. That may seem odd to some, yet I think there's some validity to the saying, it's easier to get a job when you have a job .

No matter how satisfied I was with my job, each year I challenged myself to get one job interview. By doing so, I was forced to keep my resume up to date and also to examine my current situation lest I get complacent. I even had friends participate with me and we held each other accountable.

Add a lay-off to the equation and suddenly the search took on a more serious nature. Cast a wide net and accept meetings to discuss any reasonable opportunity that presents itself. Never hurts to talk right? My thinking has always been that you can't turn it down until they make you an offer .

Or can you?

Shocking as this sounds, I ™m beginning to think it's OK to turn down the offer, even if it is just to chat.

This is counter-intuitive to those of us looking for our next opportunity. Shouldn't we knock ourselves out for each and every possible job lead?

It occurred to me some time ago – while I was casting my wide net – that accepting all opportunities to talk is not necessarily productive, especially when we know the opportunity is not right. Once I absorbed this ah-ha  moment, I forced myself to stop, collect my thoughts, think long term and develop a strategy. Starting with my end goal “ the job I wanted “ I worked my way back through the block and tackle tactics. I even developed a ˜wish list ™ for my ideal job, including corporate culture and commute. With this road map, I narrowed down the field of opportunities, yet I also granted myself some freedom.

Freedom to decline opportunities that may sound great but ultimately steered me away from my goal. Freedom to work towards what I want to do for the next how-ever-many-years I ™ll be working.

Is this easy to do? Nope. It's hard to turn away unsolicited calls dangling the carrot of a potential job under our nose. Especially those that, at any other time, would be a good fit.

And it's flattering to hear someone show interest in us and our abilities. Kind of like dating, it's hard to turn something down for fear we may never have another date.

I ™m OK with accepting offers to talk, if it's truly something of interest. But I can't let the dangling carrot steer me away from my goals.


  1. How funny and true- what a great comparison! I HATE job searching. There is always so much let down, and I think having a strategy is a great tool, especially for new grads! My husband just finished his masters and it took him 4 months to find a job even though he was well qualified. Thanks for the great article!

  2. Thanks Helene! I find it fascinating that so many people prep for an interview yet forget about the visual impression they are making.

  3. Helene – scratch my last comment! LOL I’m referencing a post that’s about to land on She Is Dallas.
    But I still appreciate your comments.

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