Swipe right for a relationship and an unmissable career move.
Philip Van Nostrand, a 37-year-old photographer from New York City, uses Tinder and Bumble to meet new women, but after a few dates these romantic encounters increasingly lead to new business opportunities. “I start talking about jobs I’m doing,” he said. “People always know other people who could use one and they’re willing to recommend me.”
One of his most recent matches led to photographing a couple’s wedding next year, which will rein in between $5,000 to $10,000 alone. Over the last four years, he estimates he’s gotten 10 jobs through dating apps. Often times, matches approach him first for a gig. Within a 6-minute span recently, two Bumble matches reached out over Instagram FB, -18.96% for headshots.
Philip Van Nostrand, a 37-year-old photographer from New York City.
Using dating apps like Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid and websites to network — and in some cases even land a job — may be an unconventional approach, but it’s slowly becoming more common. Dating sites make their money off people looking for love, but at least some users hope that their dates will end not with kisses, but with job offers or business propositions.
The millions of singletons who are part of the $1.8 billion online dating industry appear to be taking matters into their own hands. If they don’t find love on their next date, what’s wrong with dropping a few hints about what skills and hopes they have for their professional future? If you were unhappy in your job, would you rather leave with a second date or a job interview?
A screenshot from Philip Van Nostrand’s Bumble account.
Molly Anne, a 24-year-old behavior therapist from Los Angeles, saw this firsthand during a Tinder IAC, -1.45% date. Everything seemed great when she met the 6-foot-tall man with black hair and thick-rimmed black glasses at a pizzeria, she said. But work-related small talk quickly began to dominate the conversation. “The date turned into, ‘Let me tell you about how I’m trying to become a star,’” she said. “It was a little awkward.”
She couldn’t help him professionally and felt it was somewhat inappropriate to promote his business instead of promoting himself. Still, at the end of the date the man handed her his business card, which said “singer, songwriter, actor and gentleman.” “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with that,” she said. And she wasn’t sure how many of those monikers she actually agreed with.
Molly Anne, a 24-year-old behavior therapist from Los Angeles.
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And it’s not just an American phenomenon. People recognize that getting face time with someone who can help them move up the career ladder should not be a wasted opportunity. Jesse Rasoesoe, a 25-year-old marketing specialist from Johannesburg, South Africa, wasn’t looking for a new job on Tinder, but the woman he met online offered him an interview anyway.
“She saw my profile and said that she works in human relations for a marketing company in Johannesburg and was looking for someone with my background to fill an open position,” he said. After multiple emails back and forth, his Tinder match sent him a job offer. After considering it, he decided to swipe left and turn it down.
Jesse Rasoesoe, a 25-year-old marketing specialist from Johannesburg.
The world of online dating is a great social leveler. They give people time with corporate higher flyers who they may not have had a chance of meeting otherwise. “You can really see whether you can connect with someone,” said Jenn DeWall, a career and life coach for millennials. That’s also an important consideration for co-workers, given that you will spend eight hours a day with them.
Dating sites are also branching out into the jobs market. Some former Tinder executives recently created Ripple, an app designed to compete with LinkedIn, the traditional social media site for professional networking. Last year, Bumble launched Bumble Bizz, a site to make professional connections. (In April, the unemployment rate dropped below 4% for the first time since 2000.)
Bumble has noticed that, amid this improving economy, people are often interested in a new professional opportunity, as well as a personal one. “Dating apps have become a very normalized way of meeting people professionally,” said Alex Williamson, chief brand officer of Bumble. “It’s a comfortable way to reach out and get to know someone else.”
Prospective employers can learn a lot about others through their profiles and photos, including their character, personality and even their spelling. But Bumble Bizz also helps to eliminate some of the awkward grey area that comes with reaching out to people for professional purposes on dating apps, she said, and people who use that service aren’t allowed to search for dates.
A screenshot from Jesse Rasoesoe’s Tinder account.
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The opposite is also happening. There are plenty of people finding love in corners of the internet that have nothing to do with dating. Strangers are making connections on Spotify through their music playlists and on Instagram through pictures and hashtags. Facebook has even launched a service for single people to create dating profiles and connect through local events and private chats.
Mixing work and dating is fraught with potential pitfalls. People should be clear about their intentions, especially because mixed signals could put both parties in an uncomfortable situation, said Megan Bruneau, a therapist and life coach. It’s certainly not advisable to have intimate relations with someone you meet on a dating app, especially if that person becomes your subordinate.
The person who helped someone land a job could begin to feel manipulated, Bruneau said, and turning an intimate relationship into a professional is not easy, especially in the era of #MeToo where clear boundaries are drawn about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior. A third of romantic office relationships end in at least one person in the relationship getting fired, one recent survey found.
And if you do see your current internet date as a future colleague? Don’t call or message late at night, and refrain from making any suggestive comments that could come back to haunt you later. All private communication is just a screenshot away from being made public. “Treat it like a cold call,” DeWall said. “You want to build that relationship first before making requests.”