A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend who is in the process of tweaking her online dating profile. She was wondering what elements of her profile might turn potential dates on or off, and she asked me to peruse it, to get a set of fresh eyes on it. Amy loves her work, and I loved how she wrote about in her profile: Not braggy, not self-promotional, but enthusiastic. That got me wondering: What do the experts have to say about how women should frame their careers in writing these tricky little life summaries? If your career is deeply important to you, do you say that, or is it — as much as I hate to think this — a potential turn-off?
So I posted a query online, asking for dating experts to weigh in on how, and how much, women should describe their careers when crafting their online profiles. The results shocked me: Many experts who got in touch agreed that women should downplay their ambition and professional accomplishments in their profiles.
“There is no benefit for a woman in emphasizing her career in her online profile,” dating coach Jonathan Green wrote to me. “Whether a woman is extremely successful or not will not affect how 99% of men feel about her. For men, attraction does not come from watching a woman succeed.”
Christan Marashio, who leads seminars on dating profiles and writes the blog And That’s Why You’re Single under the name Moxie, told me that women should make “little to no mention” of their careers in their profiles. “Women need to understand that the criteria they apply to what makes a man a “good match” such as education, ambition, and financial security are not on a man’s list of must haves,” she explained. “Men care very little about those things.”
Experts offer another reason to downplay career in your profile: It implies you have very little time for relationships. “I advise women who read ads where the man explicitly states how busy their job is to understand the underlying message: My availability is limited,” Marashio said. “I would give the same advice to men.”
Green echoed this. “If a woman writes all about being a high powered attorney or successful executive,” he explained, “all men will read is that she doesn’t have time for him.”
If you must go on about your professional accomplishments, at least be savvy enough to not make yourself seem too, well, accomplished. “Your profile can include the industry you work in but should avoid using terms like ‘executive’ or ‘I run/oversee/manage,” dating columnist Damona Resnick Hoffman wrote to me. “They make you seem unapproachable.”
A woman’s “profile should reflect how she feels, her emotional texture, her juiciness, her heart, not what she does or her goals,” relationship coach Roy Biancalana explained. “If her profile is filled with her career stuff, her accomplishments, her mission in life, her dreams as to what she wants to achieve professionally, while that’s beautiful and wonderful, it won’t be attractive to a man with masculine energy.”
Good to know. And, hey, career-minded ladies with boyfriends or husbands, you might want to alert them about their deficiency in “masculine energy.”
So much of this dating advice seems geared to getting you to attract all the men in the world, including the jerks and wusses who will be intimidated by your career goals. But isn’t the idea to find a handful of good guys, and eventually just one great guy who understands and embraces you for who you are? And also, isn’t this 2012, and there are plenty of dudes who are totally into that? Hello?
There are, I was relieved to find, several experts who said career-focused women should present their work as part of themselves online. “It’s important for women to embrace who they are, and not edit their true desires, including professional desires, in hopes of being considered a great date,” said Trish McDermott, who spent a decade as Match.com’s “VP of Romance.” “The right man will totally get that you ‘Love, Love, Love’ your job — maybe because he feels the same way about his career — and he’ll love you for it.”
The spokesperson for the popular sites JDate and ChristianMingle, Arielle Schechtman, wisely advised “honesty, openness and clear communication” in your profile, even if you’re a workaholic. “Stay away from saying things like, ‘I eat, breath and live work!’ or, ‘I spend every waking moment in the office,’” she said. “Instead, say what it is about your job that you truly love. Or write about what gets you out of bed in the morning. These are the things that make you unique and give your potential date a better look at your true personality.”
Kate Houston, founder of the profile-writing service trysweettalk, agreed. “A basic marketing principle is ‘make the offer clear so that you attract the right customer, and weed out the wrong ones,’” she explained. “If work is important to you, then be open. In fact, count it among your interests and say what you like about it. In addition to sounding like someone who has happiness and a positive outlook on a daily basis, it also makes clear that you’re employed. In this economy, that’s important.”
But Jane Coloccia Teixeira, the author of “Confessions of an Online Dating Addict,” summed it up best, short and sweet. “Your job should be talked about like your other interests,” she advised. “We’re not living back in the ’50s and ’60s!”
Depending on who you talk to, you’d never know it.