Freelancing has made it even more obvious to me that job hunting and dating really have a lot in common. Even more so if you look at internet dating sites (which I have, that’s how J and I got together. And Rayhawk and I before that, and…. Right. Internet dating, it works.)
As ever, we come back to Communication. Which is how one sets Expectations.
You don’t know very much about the other party when you enter into contact. You have a vague sense:
“Oh, yeah. This company focuses on video games and they’re looking for a copywriter who knows the field. Awesome. That’s totally me.”
Which is a lot like:
“Hey, this guy is an engineer who’s into hiking and looking for a geeky girl who likes old Alec Guinness movies. Awesome. That’s totally me.”
All of which certainly merits some investigation. An email. A phone call. A preliminary interview. But really, you know nearly nothing about the other party. Just some extremely basic info. You have no idea how organized they are, how laid back, how they behave under stress. Nor do they know those things about you; you’re both on your best behavior. Neither of you have any real sense of what to expect.
I’ve found that a lot of companies don’t know how to express what they want. They’ll often just expect you to know. When I taught, I used to call this being writer-based, not reader-based. They know the info so well themselves, it doesn’t occur to them that they need to explain it to anyone else. Communication fail.
When pressed for more details, they might say something like, “It needs more pizazz. Some zing.” Which is completely meaningless. It’s like a girl saying to a guy, “I want you to be more romantic.” There’s nothing actionable in there. Define for me pizazz. Show me a picture of zing. Quantify romance.
I find going to the pinball hall of fame with my partner romantic. A friend of mine thinks going out to a fancy restaurant is romantic. Still another thinks going to a rave together is the height of romance. Good luck figuring out which one of those things to do when all the girl says is “I want more romance.”
So pizazz and zing and romance are all pretty vague. For that particular gig I eventually figured out that if I wrote the copy like it was porn, the CEO liked it. (No, I’m not telling which company).
Heck, I like it when a guy gives me flowers. But not red roses. Try predicting that.
And here’s one of those things that just completely sucks; the other party decides that, because you didn’t get it perfect on the first try, you’re a horrible person or not The One or you just don’t love them enough.
This actually hasn’t happened to me in romance. I think that’s more of a chick thing than a dude thing. Usually. And man, I’ve been guilty of it. Having now dealt with employers who’ve done that (and no, not telling you which company)… It’s awful. And unfair. And totally ignores the fact that human beings are really kinda designed to learn and evolve.
When a company, or a romantic interest, does that, you have to figure that’s a big red flag. You’re getting yourself involved with someone (or something) that communicates like a toddler. Or an 18 year old (amazingly similar, those two). Which means drama. And, you know, maybe it’s worth it. Maybe the perks make the job worthwhile. Or maybe the other person is just so hot, you can’t pass that up. At some point down the line, you’ll end up telling stories about the whole experience and shaking your head ruefully.
So, when J recently got me a bouquet of six red roses and one white one, I thanked him for them. And I felt loved. Because, dude, the effort was there. And I’d never told him, “Red roses, not so much.” And I made sure to tell him that the white rose was my absolute favorite of the bunch.
What do you want to bet I start getting more white roses?