Labour of love: how jobs are like relationships
Feb 13, 2020
I love my work, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot and sometimes not at all! The apprehension of signing the employment contract, the tedium of endless meetings, the anticipation at the launch of a new project or the sound of a door slamming when someone doesn’t get a pay rise. Over time, the relationship between a company and its employees can seem like a soap opera. In fact, what if it were perceived as a romantic connection or love affair, with all the ups and downs that it entails?
Every great love story starts somewhere. Perhaps it’s a chance meeting between two strangers or the bold efforts of one person approaching an object of admiration but unknown dating status. “I’m taking this opportunity to send a speculative application to you, for the position of….” This approach is either sink or swim, but it’s gutsy!
There are also encounters that come about after more studied reflection or several hours spent swiping left before finding a real treasure. “I’m writing in response to the ad posted on your website….” Sure, you may be up against a vast array of contenders, but that’s part of the game.
Then there are pre-arranged encounters, like drinks out organised by someone who’s tired of watching their single friend turn into an eternal straggler. “There’s a position opening up in my department. You should check it out. It’d be a great opportunity to advance your career.” It’s just a gentle nudge to make sure that a CV makes it to the top of the pile.
Tip from Cupid: Real life isn’t a Rom-Com and it’s unlikely that you’ll run into your dream job during some random encounter. Looking and applying for jobs takes a lot of work and requires some heavy soul searching. In a nutshell, you have to put yourself out there. What if you don’t fit the ideal candidate profile? A company might have unreasonable expectations but it’s still worth shooting your shot.
Real life isn’t a Rom-Com and it’s unlikely that you’ll run into your dream job during some random encounter.
With a pounding heart, sweaty palms and an undeniable tightness in your throat, the big day has finally arrived. In the lobby of a company that’s invited you for a first interview, the receptionist asks you to wait for the recruiter. “Good afternoon, Ms Wright, pleased to meet you,” sounds stiff. P
Perhaps it would be better to say, “Hello, Nancy. How are you today?” Or is that too informal? While you’re looking for the best way to make a good first impression and trying to remember some key figures you’ve gleaned from the company’s website, the recruiter approaches. It’s now time to give it all you’ve got for an initial encounter that could potentially decide the fate of your career.
Tip from Cupid: An initial interview is not unlike a first date. Some people like to go with the flow, while others come over-prepared, having left no stone unturned. We strongly recommend finding a balance between these two approaches. Being prepared but remaining natural is the best way to ensure the other party wants to see you a second time.
Being prepared but remaining natural is the best way to ensure the other party wants to see you a second time.
The honeymoon period
Having met more than once and determined you both like each other, it’s time to take it to the next level. Congratulations! During those first months—or even the first three months, according to some experts—you’re in the courtship period and thus on your best behaviour. The sun shines brighter, the coffee tastes richer, your desk is always organised, and you even manage to feign interest when your colleague takes you on a tour of his Post-it origami collection. Each new project is an opportunity to prove yourself worthy before you can settle down properly and get comfortable.
Tip from Cupid: Your probation period is the perfect time to score bonus points around the office and it’s only natural you will want to put your best foot forward. However, you aren’t the only one on trial. When the initial excitement fades, you must stay clear headed and get ready for the long haul. Whatever the duration of your probation period, it will determine if you want to take the job permanently or find employment elsewhere.
Your probation period is the perfect time to score bonus points around the office and it’s only natural you will want to put your best foot forward.
After some weeks, months or years, the romance gives way to reality and routine—and all the good and bad that comes with that shift. Everyday existence can get repetitive, but at least it’s comfortable. Lucy makes herself a coffee at precisely 10:05, your team gets sushi takeaway for lunch every Friday and you know exactly how to get your manager to give your project the green light. At the same time, what were initially only minor irritations are becoming increasingly painful and your motivation is flagging. In other words, you’re going through the motions, but the spark is gone.
Tip from Cupid: Whether in a relationship or at work, fighting the fizzle is a full time job in its own right. If you don’t put in the effort, you could end up joining the whopping 32% of European employees affected by boredom-burnout syndrome, or boreout. However, the good news is that you aren’t doomed to a life of monotony. Setting goals and tracking your progress helps you counteract the negative effects of routine and encourages continuous self improvement and enhanced performance.
Whether in a relationship or at work, fighting the fizzle is a full time job in its own right.
Couples who’ve been married more than 20 years have become as rare as employees celebrating 20 years of service. Many reasons exist for ending a romantic or professional relationship. Perhaps you’re compromising too much, maturity has made you want something more meaningful in your life or you’re getting attention from somewhere else. Suffering, unhappiness and burnout are all indicators of a relationship that’s run its course.
Many reasons exist for ending a romantic or professional relationship. Suffering, unhappiness and burnout are all indicators of a relationship that’s run its course.
Tip from Cupid: Ending a relationship shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s important to identify why you want to leave, what steps it will involve and what you plan on doing after. These questions are complicated by the fear of change and anxiety that comes from losing a sense of stability. Before checking to see if the grass truly is greener, here’s a non exhaustive list of questions to ask before leaving a job, along with some helpful tips on how to get through this transitional phase.
Encounters, first dates, passion, routine and breaking up. An employee and his or her company has much in common with a romantic couple. While breaking up is hard to do, it’s a natural—and indispensable—part of building your career. This is especially true early on.
So, can we still be friends? Today’s job market means you have more options than just ripping your contract in half and slamming the door behind you. With greater flexibility than ever, it’s easier to take the leap in an informed way to find something that works for you. Work doesn’t have to be a love/hate thing.
Translated by Andrea Schwam
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