Given the long hours that many employees spend at the office, it’s not surprising that a 2010 Monster.com survey found that 35 percent of survey respondents had engaged in an office romance. In fact, 12 percent had married someone they dated from work.
Still, an office romance can be risky, as Lizandra Vega, an executive recruiter and author of The Image of Success: Make a Great Impression and Land The Job You Want, is quick to point out. “It can make coworkers uncomfortable in public settings, and though it’s not usually grounds for firing, it may change how your employer thinks about you,” she adds.
Other experts, like Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, say it depends on the situation. “You have to exercise good judgment,” says Cohen. “As long as there’s no expectation that dating will lead to business or a promotion, why shouldn’t you date people you share mutual interests with?”
Even if you don’t meet your match at the office, romance is still possible through work connections. Coworkers or clients could introduce you to that special someone. Here are five (of the many) jobs that help expand your social and professional circles.
- Personal Trainer ($38,300)
The casual environment of a gym means you’ll often get to know clients on a more personal level than in an office setting. And you’ll usually meet several clients on a typical day. If you spark with a personal training client, Vega recommends waiting for the client to make the first move. Otherwise, you could be “putting yourself on the line for rejection and compromising your job,” she says. Cohen adds that if you’re a serial dater, it may be smart not to date clients lest word gets out.
- Recruiter ($49,400)
In communicating with job candidates and clients, plus attending industry events to add contacts, recruiters meet all kinds of people. In fact, Cohen has a client who met his wife when she worked as a recruiter. “She did not recruit him,” says Cohen, “but he would refer candidates to her and they spoke so highly of her, that he made a point to set up a meeting with her.”
- Retail Sales Associate ($27,400)
Depending on where you work, retail exposes you to a broad variety of people. “If you’re helpful and friendly, people are going to want to respond positively,” says Cohen. But, she warns, “You need to let people in in a way that’s not indiscreet.” A customer, for example, may ask if you are available and if they could set you up with someone. This situation is ideal because you’re not initiating the personal connection.
- Management Consultant ($100,800)
Consultants have a reputation for working especially long hours and spending time away from home, all while meeting with a variety of clients and internal teams to expand their network. “You [and your client] work together intensely,” says Cohen, “so, if you’re comfortable, you can certainly tell people about yourself and the fact that you’re wanting to meet people. Part of this process is about messaging. Without the proper message, people aren’t going to know.”
- Social Media Manager ($52,000)
Social medial managers tend to meet a lot of people through Twitter, Facebook, and in-person events. The tricky part about this job is bridging the gap between your online and in-person persona. Vega suggests that if someone’s avatar catches your eye, you should “reach out on your personal account rather than the company account” to avoid blurring the lines between business and pleasure.
Boston-based freelance writer Susan Johnston has covered career and business topics for "The Boston Globe," "Hispanic Executive Quarterly," WomenEntrepreneur.com, and other publications.
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