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After I graduated, I was still in the midst of my job search for an “adult” job/career. So I continued at my internship and working retail, searching for that coveted full-time position. At the same time, I navigated the dating world, trying both online dating sites and various events to meet people.

I noticed uncomfortable similarities between dating and my job search. Here are the two biggest lessons I learned.

Both parties won’t immediately reveal their true intentions.

Most of the time, on that first or second date, you won’t be completely honest with each other. You won’t say that you’re hung up on your ex, and you’re trying to date to forget them. Your date won’t say that they’re just lonely because they’re living by themselves, and have no intention of talking to you after this date because they have commitment issues. But you both feign interest, and warily look for warning signs.

A job search goes the same way. If you get an interview, they very well could make a decision about you the second you walk through the door. They’ll ask why you’re interested in the position, and you’ll hopefully give an answer other than “because you’re hiring and I need money.” You’ll go through the interview process, everyone will seem relatively invested. It’s a bizarre dance of each party trying to remain neutral. Sometimes an employer may not end up being who you thought they were. Take note of any red flags. It’s okay to turn down a position if it looks like you’ll be miserable. Let them find a candidate where both parties will be happy!

If you’re seeing a lot of red flags, don’t ignore them. Don’t force yourself into a job that will make you miserable.

I once had a job interview that was three and a half hours long (you read that right), and I didn’t get the job. They ended up eliminating the position. You might think your interview went great. Then you either never hear from them again, or you’ll get a rejection letter weeks or even months after. It’s important to keep a positive mindset! This leads into the next lesson.

Rejection is just a part of how it works.

No one likes rejection. Plenty of us go on dates, think it went well, then find the other person doesn’t feel the same. It deals a blow to your confidence, and the whole dating scene feels exhausting. You sometimes ask yourself if you should even keep trying, because each repeated rejection and bad experience doesn’t seem worth it. But if you have a strong sense of self, and don’t let someone else’s opinion determine your identity, you’ll do just fine.

Learn how to accept the inevitable rejection (not like this).

In my job search, I can’t even begin to count how many times an employer ghosted me. I put the time and effort into revising my resume for every job posting, making sure I tailored my experience to fit the position. I wrote great cover letters about why I was the perfect candidate. I didn’t hear back from so many employers that I (naively) wondered if there was something wrong with the formatting of my applications, or if I submitted something wrong. It felt even worse when an interview I thought I aced resulted in rejection.

Sometimes, there would even be employers who would reach out for an interview over a month after I put in an application. If a man did that to me, I would think he wasn’t interested, or that he exhausted every other possible option before he contacted me. Employers, be cautious about doing the same.

Employers, try to indicate your interest in a candidate as quickly as possible. Otherwise your attempt seems halfhearted.

In the end, learn from it.

Both in dating and my job search, I used each experience as a learning opportunity. There is always something you can improve in yourself. But self-improvement shouldn’t come from doubt or lack of confidence. It should come from self-awareness. Don’t change something just because someone else doesn’t like it. Every person (and employer) has preferences for what they want. Stay confident and eventually you’ll find the right position, just like I did, that made the whole search worth it!

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