The (Not)Dating Game, Part 1

For several years, I toyed with the idea of doing a conference talk comparing job searching to dating. I never really fully fleshed out the ideas and basically let it slide onto a back burner; however, the more I think about it, the more I have determined that the idea is valid but may be best presented in a blog form.

Today, most of the job searches are performed entirely online. Nearly 45% of recent job seekers  have used online resources to perform that search [1]. While the percentage of people meeting their partners online is significantly smaller (~20% [2]), it is still the largest method of meeting a partner.

Look at LinkedIn compared to you average social media and dating website. On both platforms, you build a profile based on your background. You find a suitable picture to make yourself look attractive to those who may search you out. In fact, most of what you put onto your resume (and by extension your or Monster profile) are all built around attracting potential employers.

The similarities are so obvious to some people that someone had the idea to create a Tinder-style app for jobs searching, Switch.

Ultimately, the online dating and job search platforms are subject to the same sets of problems. Users of each are trying their best to make themselves look more attractive to their potential matches. This extends to the point of catfishing [3]. Where an individuals line is for lying to a potential mate versus a potential employer may be up for debate.

Obviously, there are means to avoid the catfish in employment (and in relationships), this is where the first date…oops, I mean, interview comes into play. We’ll get into those in the next part of this series.

Even with the extra steps, the online HR mill is designed to filter out candidates by pre-determined barriers, so it creates an incentive for people to stretch the truth (or blatantly lie) about their background, especially when many employers may never look into their applicant’s or employee’s backgrounds.

Is there a fix for any of the online job search problems? Vetting candidates is hard work, and while I suspect a decade or two ago recruiters did a lot of this work, the job hunt has really be reduced down to a method of seeing as many candidates as quickly as possible and hoping you find something worthwhile. This may result in some good candidates never be seen and definitely results in some horrible candidates occasionally getting hired.

It can be hard for many people to sell themselves, and in many cases, people like that may wind up being the ones who suffer the most in this system.


Everyone else does it…

So why not me? Time for the annual set of #BadDefconAdvice and #GoodDefconAdvice to make the rounds, so I figured I should play the game in blog form.

Advice on Advice

“Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

Anyone who remembers that quote without Googling it is at least as old as I am. The reality is that advice takes many forms. We all have had our experiences that drive it, so what may have worked well for one person, may not work well for another. Be sure to take this into account when you decide what advice to follow and which to not follow.

Codes of Conduct and Behavior

  1. Be familiar with the conference Code of Conduct and Photo Policies:
  2. Since you may have skipped the links, most CoC boil down to:  
  3. If you see something say something. Please do not take action on your own.
  4. If you are a victim, I hope you will feel safe enough to report issues to the appropriate conference staff.


Personal Well-Being

  1. Follow the 3-2-1 rule
    • Get at least three hours of sleep
    • Eat at least two meals per day
    • Take at least one shower per day
    • These are minimums you may need more sleep, more food, or more showers
  2. Drink plenty of water
    • 2L (64oz) minimum, 3-4L recommended
    • Added extra water if you are drinking
  3. If you have anxiety, please take a break. They may be hard to find but there can be relatively quiet spots to go and not be surrounded by the hordes of people.
  4. If you are going to spend any amount of time outdoors, remember sunscreen.
  5. Be mindful of yourself, your surroundings, and those around you. (Keep your head up from the cell phone, keep moving in hallways, do not crowd together in choke points.)


This gets its own section because there is a lot of booze that flows during conferences.

  1. Know your limits and don’t let others pressure you into exceeding them.
  2. Maintain positive control of your drink. Never take drinks from strangers.
  3. Follow the buddy system (doesn’t matter who you are).
  4. Keep an eye on your buddy, and be willing to remove them from bad situations.
  5. Drink at least one glass (8-12oz) of water per drink, and preferably more.
  6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach.


Instead of a list of things to do and not to do, let’s look at what I plan on doing. I do not bring a laptop to the defcon floor with me. I have no need for one and unless you are doing a workshop or participating in a contest where one is required, you will not have much use for one.

I will be bringing my primary personal mobile device and take the following steps:

  • All traffic is pushed out via VPN (even on cellular networks)
  • My standard messaging app is Signal
  • I purge old apps that I’m not using anymore
  • I update all apps and the OS before leaving home
  • I turn off WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC on my phone.
  • I disable bluetooth on my Garmin fitness tracker
  • I carry chargers (battery and wall) to keep the device alive. VPN and the network connectivity issues in general will drain my battery quickly.
  • I do sometimes bring a “backup device” in the event that my batteries are all drained, no charging is available, and I have an emergency. This is a very low risk item.


I am sure I am missing a lot of stuff. Feel free to look through the aforementioned hashtags. Remember my original statement on taking advice, but to steal more the original quote source, trust me on the sunscreen.