Volume 41: Is a Career Really a Professional Marriage?

In the last edition of Outside the Box, I kicked off a series that compares long term careers to marriages, and I received some responses thRoyat doubted the similarities between these two things.

Last time, I explored basic motivations for jumping into a marriage or career: passion, possibility of growth, and security. To confirm that a marriage and a career are very similar and should be treated so, let’s take a look at the process of dating and getting married vs. the process of obtaining and growing in a long-term career:

Step 1:

Boy meets Girl. Maybe Girl is a friend of a friend; maybe they went through a dating site or a matchmaker. Based on preliminary information, (Girl is beautiful, that’s usually enough at this stage,) Boy asks Girl out on a date.

Candidate applies to a job posting with Company. Maybe the candidate was referred by a friend, maybe they went through a career site like Monster or Careerbuilder or through a recruiter. Based on preliminary information from the application, (he can spell his name,) Company asks Candidate for an interview.

Step 2:

Boy and Girl go on a date. They talk about their interests and aspirations. The goal is to get to know each other. If things go well, there’s usually some indication that it was so: a kiss, or perhaps some other form of invitation. Later, Boy calls Girl to set up another date. Girl also had a good time, agrees to go on Date 2.

Company and Candidate meet for an interview. The Candidate talks about his background, skills, and aspirations. Company talks about its policies, history, and potential for growth. The goal is to get to know each other. If things go well, there’s usually some indication that it was so: an invitation back or acknowledgement that one side or the other liked what they saw and heard. Later, Candidate follows up with Company to find out about next steps. Company also liked what they heard and saw from the interview and agrees to go to the next interview stage.

Step 3:

Boy and Girl continue to date. They learn more and more about each other. Maybe they meet the other’s parents and family. This can be a daunting, yet crucial, step. They start to realize this could be a great fit. Or, perhaps, they decide this isn’t a good fit and  part ways.

Company and Candidate meet for however many interviews are necessary (hopefully not too many). Maybe Candidate meets with higher ups within Company. This can be a daunting, yet crucial, step. They start to realize this could be a great fit. Or, perhaps, they decide this isn’t a good fit and part ways.

Step 4:

Boy proposes to Girl. Girl says yes! They start to put together the plans for their engagement and wedding. Spring or Fall? Huge wedding with tons of friends or tiny with just close family?

Company gives Candidate an offer. Candidate says yes! They start to put together plans for pre-hire paperwork and start date. Immediate start or is a two week notice required?  Long training and orientation process, or thrown right into the deep end?

Step 5:

Boy and Girl get married. They’re both very excited about this new step in their lives. The honeymoon phase begins. Things are great, but there are always going to be some growing pains as the relationship has evolved. Boy leaves his dirty socks on the floor. Girl only knows how to cook Easy Mac.

Candidate starts work at Company. They’re both very excited about this new step. The probationary period begins. Things are great, but there are always going to be some growing pains as Candidate learns Company protocols and Company figures out how to best utilize Candidate. Candidate has never had to wear a hard hat before. Company doesn’t pay relocation as promptly as initially promised.

Step 6:

The honeymoon phase ends. Both sides have to continuously work hard to make sure the relationship stays happy and healthy. Boy goes out of his way to buy flowers and do romantic things for Girl. Girl works hard to get a promotion to help the couple buy their first house. They have kids and the family grows.

The Probationary phase ends. Both sides have to continuously work hard to make sure the relationship stays happy and healthy. Candidate goes out of his way and puts in extra hours to ensure he’s achieving the kind of results Company needs. Company works to supply adequate training and support to ensure that Candidate has what he needs. Candidate receives promotion and grows into new role.

And from then on, it’s hard work to make sure things stay beneficial to both sides. At the end of the day, both sides just want to feel validated and secure in their future. If those feelings of validation and security go away, things tend to tailspin.

When this happens, careers with a company can end just like a marriage. What a good idea for our next newsletter…

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