The Graduate Dating Game

The first in a series of blog posts about the emotional roller coaster that is the graduate recruitment process. The first post focuses on the peculiar similarities between navigating the graduate recruitment ladder and navigating the dating ladder.*

The Milkround

It’s the time of the year when those who have already secured jobs are planning their futures with their chosen professional partner. While those of us that are not so lucky panic about being left on the shelf.

The graduate recruitment process is a cruel mistress. I would view myself as being an ‘alright catch’… I mean, I’m smart, I went to a good university, I have some interesting work experience and I think I’m a nice guy. Why was I getting so many rejections?

While I may have had all the credentials I mentioned above, so did thousands of others. More than that, there were people who are a lot smarter, who had undertaken more interesting internships, who went to better universities and who were probably nicer people.

In the eyes of employers, they were better catches.

It got me thinking. Parallels can be drawn between the pursuit of a graduate role and the pursuit of a girlfriend/boyfriend. For the rest of the post, I attempt to explain the various stages of the grad recruitment life-cycle as stages of the dating life-cycle, along with a few tips to deal with rejection.

‘The first date’: The application process and aptitude tests

You have to make a good impression. The employer you want to impress wants a person who can confidently, clearly and concisely express why they would be a good long term partner. TOP TIP: Do not call them by another companies name, they hate that.

Rejection: She said she’d be in touch regarding your next date, instead she sends an automated email to say you aren’t quite right. She even says at the bottom ‘do not contact for feedback’. Grad recruitment ain’t for the faint hearted. Build a bridge, and potentially review your application chat up lines.

The second and third date’: The competency Interview

She said she’d call after the first date but you haven’t heard anything and it has been WEEKS. She’s definitely pursuing relationships with other candidates. You’re losing hope.

At the same time, with every ping of your phone you get butterflies on the off chance that it’s Employer BAE sending an email. OMG, it is! They want to meet up again!

What will I wear? Oh, never mind. She’s told me to wear a suit. That was easy.

The competency interview is all about making sure you and your potential employer share the same values, and that you’re in the same place morally. There is nothing worse than going out with someone for a long period before realising they are a Trump supporter.

Brush up on your values…Respect in the workplace…Teamwork…Relationship building and you’ll be fine.

Dealing with rejection: Does getting rejected at the competency stage mean you’re devoid of a moral compass? No. Take it on the chin. While the STAR technique might not work for dates, it’s definitely something worth considering for competency interviews.

The Seeing Each other phase’: The Assessment Centre / Technical Interview stage:

So you’ve seen each other a good few times now, things are getting serious. You both know a bit about each other, but she’s keen to delve a bit deeper. She wants to make sure you can do all the things you so confidently said you could when you first met.

You better get practicing…brush up on all the technical knowledge and skills you claimed you had. There is nothing worse than saying you’d be able to whip up a DCF model, only to have performance issues on the day.

Unfortunately she wasn’t impressed with your DCF…Rejection gets harder to take the further along the process you go. Liken it to dating someone. If you don’t get a call back after the first date or two you’re disappointed, but you hadn’t invested that much time in the process…plenty more companies in the sea etc etc…

However, if you get rejected after you’ve seen each other a good few times it gets a bit harder. ‘I thought we were perfect for each other?’. As I’ve said, the grad recruitment game is a cruel mistress, after you thought you nailed the technical interview she informs you that it isn’t working out.

At this stage you know each other well enough to ask Employer BAE for some constructive feedback. Feel free to ask why she didn’t think you would be a good fit, or if there was anything you could have done better.

‘The relationship stage’: Partner interview

Things are getting serious, you’ve both admitted you like each other and you’ve been seeing each other regularly for a lengthy period of time. She even asked how you would feel about moving to Aberdeen with her for work…Obviously, you replied ‘anything for you Employer BAE’.

There is one final obstacle to navigate…the partners. The equivalent to meeting your beau’s parents.

A seal of approval is vital at this stage of the relationship…If things don’t go well, you’re out the door. You see, the partners are quite heavily invested in the company. They have helped nurture it, they have watched it grow.

They don’t want to see their company partner with someone who is going to do damage to something they view as precious. The key is to demonstrate your love for the company, as well as your desire to pursue a long-term, serious relationship with her. No partner wants to think you’re only after a fling with their company. Be yourself, show an interest & you’ll be fine.

Departing thoughts…The graduate recruitment process is a slippery slope. As with dating, a misplaced comment, not showing enough interest or getting busted with one of their arch enemies will probably result in you being kicked to the curb. Try and control the controllable. Control the impression that you give off to give yourself the best chance at finding the one. However, be aware that an employer may be blind to how great you really are, and that you’re not defined by your employment status.

*Any similarities to dating are based primarily off interpretations of TV shows and movies. Very little experience in this arena.

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