I’ve helped people advance their careers, switch jobs, and change employers most of my work life. It is over a year since my husband passed away and recently I’ve decided to test the dating waters. Within weeks of navigating the dating scene it occurred to me that looking for a date and searching for a job have more in common than I could have ever imagine or thought could apply.

When looking for a career or your soul mate, follow these simple suggestions.

Get To The Next Step: An error most job and love seekers make is they don’t respect the process. They are completion driven. The goal of any first meeting is for it to go so well you are invited back for a second encounter, not get the offer. Keeping that in mind changes your focus and reduces some of the stress an initial intro always has.

What’s In It For The Other Person: Employers are far less concerned about what you want than they are interested in knowing what you can do for them. Whether it’s intelligence, skills, experience, or ability to travel, “what’s in it for them” holds true in a job interview or a date.

Chemistry: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, people are hired for skills, promoted for results, and fired for chemistry. Since every employer wants the relationship to work out, they are constantly testing for chemistry, “Will I enjoy being with this person even in challenging times and are they fun to be around in the day-to-day?” For this reason, strategically revealing who you are over the course of the conversation is important. Tell too much, too soon, and you could be labeled with boundary issues; hold back and the person on the other side of the table suspects there is not much more than a bio or there “isn’t a match.”

The Outfit: Though interview and dating outfits are different, they’re equally essential components of any adult wardrobe. Having interviewed hundreds of people, I know everyone looks their best on the first meeting. Knowing that, you can’t disappoint. Casual attire has made it harder to hit the right note, so more time and effort has to be placed on researching. I’ve suggested to clients they sit outside the company they are going to interview with, before 8 a.m., and figure out who the executives are by their clothing. Dress like an executive. The condition of that said outfit also has to be pristine. This is where professional pressing and tailoring are worth the price. Use color -- it makes you look fresher and distinctive. Take the same approach with the date outfit but change the research location to a restaurant.

Prep For The Question You Fear The Most: “Why were you laid off when others weren’t” is the workplace equivalent of, “So why did your partner leave you for someone else?” The question can drain the color from your face if you haven’t crafted and practiced an answer. Avoidance doesn’t work and full disclosure is not required. The answer has to satisfy the listener and move the conversation somewhere else, “There was a change at the top and unfortunately I was seen as being a part of the old regime. I think we could have worked well together but I guess they decided to surround themselves with their own people” is the same as, “After ten happy years together, we grew apart and both of us wanted to move on.”

Arrival: It's not showing up too early, so you look and get anxious and possibly seem intrusive; arriving ten minutes before the appointment leaves enough time to check your hair and chat a bit with the receptionist (the person who has an opinion he/she shares with everyone). Never be late, even if you have to spend an hour in the Starbucks around the corner. The point is, you want your arrival to be neutral, not a point of contention.

Searching For Common Ground: All of us feel more comfortable with people we have something in common with than those we don’t. This means discovering very simple facts -- you root for the same team, attended the same college, or hail from similar parts of the world. The challenge is to find that tidbit. It’s not as hard as you would think considering how transparent most of our lives have become. Prior to a first date, I was able to find out my dates full name (his online listing was only initials), where he attended college and graduate school, confirm his age, get some information on his children, knew when he played golf, where he summered, and where he had lived with his ex-wife. All of this in less than fifteen minutes. You can find out plenty about a company and its people if you remain curious. Once you have it, work some of it into the conversation.

Express Interest: Everyone wants to be wanted and to be liked, so tell them in the interview (even if you’re not sure). Talk about next steps, agree to meet again; show interest and excitement.

The more I look at job interviewing and dating, the more I am convinced they have more in common than they differ. Each requires you to do the right thing -- show up properly dressed, with knowledge of the person with whom you are going to speak. You have to do research and find common ground to test for chemistry and you have to pace yourself, never appearing too eager or too blasé. Both have payoffs and are worth the effort.

(c) Jane Cranston.

Author's Bio: 

Jane Cranston is an executive career coach. She works with success-driven executives, managers and leaders to reach their potential, better manage their boss and staff, as well as develop a career strategy to reach goals and aspirations. Jane is the author of Great Job in Tough Times a step-by-step job search system. Click here to subscribe to her twice monthly Competitive Edge Report.