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Looking for a job in all the wrong places

Can dating help you find a new job?

It’s been a tough year. As a career coach, I can see it on the faces of my clients.

A lot of them are looking for a new job. And they have tried every trick in the book to find one: networking, marketing plans, recruitment agents, online applications, etc.

“What else can I do? What other tips can you share?” they ask me.

It may sound a bit unorthodox, but have you tried Tinder?

Now, I’m certainly not advocating for infidelity, but dating apps could be a unique channel for finding job or business leads.

Just to be clear, joining a dating app simply to find a job is unethical. But, if you are logging onto a dating app with the intention of connecting with like-minded people who are in the same industry or function, where is the harm in that? An initial coffee date or drink could turn into an in-depth discussion about industry trends, people you have in common in your network or deeper insight into the structure and culture of a potential target company.

But, if you are logging onto a dating app with the intention of connecting with like-minded people who are in the same industry or function, where is the harm in that?

I wouldn’t even be writing about this topic if I didn’t feel like it was a mini-trend. First, one of my clients mentioned it to me. Then a few weeks later, a friend told me a similar story. Then a few days later, it happened again to another friend.

So for all of you jobseekers out there, I knew I couldn’t ignore this! It turns out I’m not the only one who’s noticed. In 2017, Bumble introduced a networking feature on its app called Bumble Bizz. And even if they don’t find romance, a lot of people are using sites like Tinder and newer platforms like Shapr and Blonk to increase their networks and find business opportunities, according to this November 2019 article in Entrepreneur.

What do you do for a living?

“What do you do for a living?” is probably the #1 question that is asked when you meet someone for the first time or begin chatting with someone on a dating app. Most people don’t input a lot of details about their professional life on their profile. They typically state something generic like “business development” or “legal” to avoid sharing too much information up-front.

But once you know that someone works in your industry or at a company that you are interested in, what should you do? It was like “a lightbulb goes off,” said Sally, who works in the fashion industry and was made redundant in July. Although she never intentionally used Bumble or Tinder to find job leads, she ended up chatting with three different men who were able to help her make new connections at a target company or give her a download on a company’s hiring practices.

One potential date put Sally in touch with his HR contact at one of her target companies. Although the job didn’t work out, it gave her the foot in the door to have an initial first round interview. He continues to check-in with her via text, asking how her job search is going and trying to connect her to others in his network.

For Sally, it’s not just about the industry connection. The potential connection has to “meet her other criteria too.” She didn’t necessarily think of these connections as related to her line of work, but more of an “alignment of interests.”

Keep it strictly professional

If you plan to utilize dating websites to help you find a job, Sally recommends approaching it cautiously. If there is a chance for there “to be a professional relationship,” Sally recommends interacting in an adult, respectable way. You “never know who people know,” but you have to be “really articulate about what you are looking for and speak with confidence.” Sally found that people are willing to help, as long as you show a little bit of vulnerability. 

Jennifer works in business development in the real estate industry. Over drinks with a new match she’d made on Bumble, he mentioned he worked in the marketing industry, organizing events and conferences. Coincidentally, Jennifer was involved in organizing her company’s gala celebration, so she facilitated an introduction. After submitting a successful proposal (helped by Jennifer’s insider tips), his company was shortlisted for final consideration for the project.

Throughout the interaction, even if she had feelings for this match, Jennifer said it’s important to “keep it at a business level.”

Jennifer connected with a second match who ended up working in her industry. While chatting on Bumble, she realized there was potential for a business opportunity. They met for lunch. One week later, she received the details of a new project and realized her lunch date was the key decision maker! Now her company is working on responding to the proposal, and she is focused on keeping their interaction strictly professional.

Jennifer said that using dating apps like Bumble is an “interesting way to connect and get the lead, but it makes things very complicated.” If this sort of situation were to happen again, she’d need to “strategize” and think “How should she approach this kind of situation?” Luckily, there were no hurt feelings this time because the professional relationship was disclosed early and they didn’t get involved with one another. However, she recommends trying to keep dating and work separate. “If it happens naturally, it’s okay as long as you are honest with one another,” Jennifer said. 

“If it happens naturally, it’s okay as long as you are honest with one another,”

Proceed with caution

Some dating sites are well known for dubious activity and the worst culprit is Tinder. Ashley joined Tinder a few months ago after getting out of a long-term relationship. She was quickly inundated with matches. One guy was particularly aggressive, talking about planning their future and saving for a nice wedding after just a few days of chatting. Almost immediately, he suggested that Ashley open an account to buy and sell gold. Realizing it was a scam, Ashley quickly blocked him and moved on.

Just like some jobs represented by untrustworthy recruiters, Ashley warns, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” After a few months and getting some advice from her girlfriends, Ashley realized that the guys with the really good-looking profile pictures were mostly fakes. She became more skeptical and more judicious with her swiping.

Ashley doesn’t recommend using dating websites for anything other than dating. She said, “Honestly, it’s not the right channel to do it. If someone said they are looking for a job after a few days of chatting, it would definitely change the nature of the relationship. I would look down on them.”

So, should you swipe right?

Although it can have it’s pitfalls, if you plan to utilize dating apps as part of your job search strategy, heed the advice of Sally, Jennifer and Ashley.

1)     Be transparent about who you are and what you are looking for.

2)     Keep the relationship strictly professional.

3)     Beware of things that seem too good to be true!

Have you found a new job or business opportunity through a dating app? Share your story below!

Identities have been disguised and details have been changed to protect privacy.

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Renee Conklin is a career coach and HR Leader who writes about talent attraction, employee engagement and the future of work. Check out more of her articles at RC HR Consulting.

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