Young woman making an exasperated expression gesture on a bad dateValentine’s Day is a stressful holiday if you’re single. If you’re single and unemployed (or underemployed) it’s much, much worse. As 2014 marches into its second month, here are eight tips for finding the date—and job—of your dreams.

1. It’s a numbers game. The more potential employers or partners you connect with, the better your chances are of finding your perfect match. The trick is to make each connection feel special; even if this is your tenth interview or first date in as many weeks, act as if it’s the first one. “Employers and potential partners both want to be wooed,” writes J. Maureen Henderson for Forbes. “They want to feel special and singled out, not as if you’re making the same blanket offer to everyone and hoping something, anything, sticks.”

2. You only have seconds to make a first impression. You usually know within the first few minutes of a date whether you have a future together. Hiring managers take an average of six seconds to scan your resume and make decisions within 20-30 seconds of meeting you in an interview.

3. Do your due diligence.  Before going on a first date, most of us poke around online to see if he or she is legit. You should do at least as much for a potential employer. Career Counselor Chandlee Bryan advises that employers expect all applicants “to be familiar with their company website and the type of work they do. In a challenging economy, the bar is raised: they will also look to see if you are familiar with the overall health of the industry with respect to general economic performance.”

4. Brush up your online presence. The flipside of #3 is that potential dates and employers will be Googling you, too. Questionable Facebook pictures, angry blog posts, and unprofessional Twitter accounts are all turn-offs.

5. Ask your friends to set you up. Networking is still the best way to find a job or a date. When a friend or colleague sets you up, you already have your foot in the door and something to talk about with each other.

6. Don’t talk about your exes. Nothing is a bigger turn-off in a first date or interview than someone who won’t stop trash-talking an ex. “Talking about failed relationships while dating isn’t a best practice,” advises Hannah Morgan for U.S. News. “No one likes to hear about your dirty laundry, no matter how poorly you may have been treated. Likewise, do not trash your past employer or manager, ever.”

7. Be selective…but not too picky. While you should always trust your instincts, there’s a fine line between waiting for the right fit and turning down good offers because they meet your idea of perfection. Most importantly, try not to give off a whiff of desperation. “Just like in dating, employers want to feel that they’re hiring someone with options, not someone who’s desperate and will take anything offered,” says Alison Green for U.S. News.

8. Put your best self forward. You know by now to dress nicely for a first date or an interview, but in this digital age, you start building an impression long before you meet someone in person. Your ability to communicate clearly and professionally is the most important tool you have to recommend yourself. “A sure-fire way to look like an idiot is to leave typos on your resume,” writes Sean Weinburg, of SimplyHired.com. “On the flipside, leave out any and all jargon that HR might not understand.” If writing isn’t your strength, make sure you find another set of eyes to review your work. A friend, an online proofreading tool, or a teacher can help.

You’ve heard it before, but there are plenty of fish in the sea. If your first (or fifth, or fiftieth) attempt at finding love or rewarding employment doesn’t work out, keep trying. Every bad date or disastrous interview is a chance to learn and evolve.



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