The curse of the swipe-right mentality

Posted by Prospect‘s UK Team

How important would you say your job is?

Perhaps instinctively we’d say that the right job might fit below having a happy life, the right partner, a family, a house you call your own and so on. In fact, a recent YouGov poll says that having the right job is the single most important thing in our lives. It found that 77% of people placed this as the number one priority behind having a family (73%) and way behind having the right partner (57%) and friends (37%). The research also found that ’doing something I enjoy’ was more important in a job than location, status and work/life balance and was equal to pay and benefits.

Perhaps these findings are not as surprising as they first seem.

We spend nearly a third of our lives; an estimated 90,000 hours, at work. If another third is sleeping (and I love my bed!) then that only leaves the remaining third for absolutely everything else in our lives. In that context, you can see why getting the right job that we enjoy comes out top.

So, here I am as a recruitment professional and getting the right job is the number one priority for everyone. Happy days for me, you would think. Not quite. Put simply, the gulf between what people say is the most important thing in their life, and the time in which they invest to ensure they get it right, is as vast as the chasm between the Leave’s £350m per week for the NHS and the truth. Yes, that big!

A US academic report suggests that people should spend 15 hours per week pursuing the right job.  This 15 hours included identifying job opportunities, researching target employers and their businesses, writing tailored CVs and cover notes, attending interviews, preparing presentations and so on. In addition, they recommend a further 10 hours of networking be that digital – LinkedIn, social engagement etc – or physical e.g. attending events, using friends and their networks to broaden horizons and connections and so on. That’s a total of 25 hours per week invested to ensure that someone doesn’t just get a job; they get the right job.

We’re all busy and maybe 25 hours per week finding the right job is ridiculously ambitious in that context. But from what I see every day of the week, I would guess people are barely spending a 10th of that time in pursuit of the right job and it’s on a noticeable, downward trend year-on-year.

Too often we get the ‘what jobs have you got’? email to which we reply then never hear anything back. Too often people fail to turn up to meetings. Too often, people have done little to no research because they have been so busy, they’ve had no time to prepare for the interview. Too often people leave things until they are close to hating their job before exploring what is out there then leap for the first thing that comes along seeing it as an escape route from misery. Invariably, it isn’t long before they’re unhappy again.

The effort expended by more and more people feels increasingly like a ‘swipe-right’ phenomenon where glib decisions are taken quickly then almost never followed up or invested in. Sound harsh? A recent survey of Tinder users found that 8250 right-swipes resulted in only 7% of messages being sent. Or, to put it the other way, in 93% of occasions, the person who had swiped, did nothing.

We say our job is the most important thing in our lives and doing something we enjoy is the most important aspect of working life. If that is right, then it’s time to reverse the trend, invest more time in getting it right, and see this as a means of ensuring our 90,000 hours are as happy as they possibly can be.

To put it metaphorically, it’s times to stop swiping-right, and time to book in some date-nights.

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