When I was in my late teens, my dad took me out to buy my first car. We found the perfect one, a rust colored Ford Pinto hatchback. (Does this date me at all?) I was so excited, but on the way to take a second look and make an offer, my dad said, “Never fall in love with the car. You want a great car, and you are going to have a great car. There are lots of them out there. But don’t think THIS car is the perfect one, the only one that will make you happy.” Of course I fell in love with the car and my dad had to drag me away when we couldn’t reach an agreement with the salesman. Later we ended up buying a Pinto station wagon. In my mind, it wasn’t nearly as cool as the hatchback and the color (“flesh” as we called it) was nowhere as awesome as the rust. But in time I saw it was rather ideal, the station wagon offering much greater cargo space during my frequent moves in those years.
The moral of the story is “Don’t fall in love during the shopping phase”. When you’re applying and interviewing for a position, it’s easy to get very excited thinking about how “perfect” it would be for you. You may picture yourself in the job and fantasize about how it will change your life. You may idealize the opportunity, believing it is THE right job for you.
While it’s good to get excited about an opportunity, and great to let your enthusiasm show in your cover letter and interviews, falling in love with the job before you are hired can create some issues:
- It keeps you from objectively weighing the opportunity
- It may make you look overly eager, maybe even desperate
- It will put you in a weaker position when it comes to negotiating a job offer
- It greatly heightens the disappointment if you do not get the job
If you find yourself in that devastating place of not getting your dream job, here is how you can bounce back:
- Return to your initial goal. You started out wanting to get a job that is right for you, not this specific job. All that happened is you didn’t get this one job.
- Affirm that you WILL get a job. You didn’t get this one, but you will get another.
- De-romanticize the job you did not get. Every job has its pros and cons. In many cases, the biggest challenges of a job become clear a few months after you start. The job you didn’t get might have felt “perfect” because you didn’t have a chance to see the cons. There will be other job opportunities as good, or even better.
- Do not view your attempt to get the job as a failure. View it as a mismatch in your skills and their needs. Perhaps you didn’t share your match as effectively as you could have. Next time you will do better. Perhaps they simply found a candidate who was a closer match. Whatever the case, it is a chance to learn and move on.
Approach every job opportunity with optimism. Dig deep to determine if the job is right for you. Work hard to demonstrate how you are right for the job. But, as my dad would tell you, “Don’t fall in love with the job”. Staying objective about the position during the hiring process is the best thing you can do to identify and land the right job for you.