If you are a person seeking a date nowadays, there’s a big chance you’re looking online. Dating apps have taken over as a standard way many of us find romance. One in five adults under 30 say they met their current spouse or partner on a dating app, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center survey.
And on these apps, your profession will likely be one of the very first biographical details a potential mate can learn about you ― usually next to a briefcase icon, and sometimes along with info of where you went to school. I have seen employment answers be as specific as “senior frontend engineer at Google” to as vague as “VP of finance.”
I myself am confused on what’s best to say in this tiny box. At first, on my profile, I did not include anything about my career or education as a one-woman protest against making my search for romance feel like brokering a LinkedIn connection. I have since softened my stance, because the majority of profiles I see do share something related to their career, and I don’t want to be the odd woman out. I still don’t share my college, but I do share my job vaguely as “Journalist.” I’d rather share more if we meet in person.
My internal debate led me to wonder a bigger question: Is all this sharing about your job a good thing on a dating app?
Once you know what somebody does for a living and where they went to school, then that also means that you can exclude people that don’t meet your criteria for income or education from the dating pool really easily, said Liesel Sharabi, director of the Relationships and Technology Lab at Arizona State University.
“At their best, I think dating apps are designed to introduce more diversity into relationships, like actually meeting with strangers and with people who might not otherwise meet from all different walks of life,” Sharabi said. “But at their worst, they can also be remarkably efficient tools for social stratification when you think about people grouping themselves off into categories based on things like what they do for a living, their income, their education.“
She advised against making generalizations based on what somebody does for work. “I would avoid excluding or including somebody based solely on that one bit of information,” Sharabi said.
And yet, it’s something many of us do all the time.
Whether or not it’s fair, we often make instant judgments on whether to match with other people on dating apps, based on what they do for a living. “Do you guys have professions you wouldn’t date?” starts a 2022 post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The discussion generated over 17,000 retweets and quote tweets as people sounded off with the jobs that are most likely to make them pass on a date.
“Whew the list is long: members of the clergy, politician, professional athlete, ‘influencer’ of any kind, professional entertainer....Will make an exception if they look good enough,” one response reads.
It’s cold comfort for the daters hearing nothing back; it’s a lesson of how it’s not necessarily you ― it might just be the assumptions people are making about what your job will mean for your imagined shared future together.
Responding to that thread, voiceover artist Joy Ofodu posted a video that was “mostly a joke,” she told HuffPost. In it, she shares the types of men that will “run you ragged.” They included artists (“any kind”), athletes (“He’s 6′6, 250 [lbs], what did you think was gon happen?”), and actors (“They know how to act like they didn’t cheat”).
But these hard limits have exceptions. Take it from Ofodu herself who ended up meeting her partner, a semi-professional athlete, on a dating app.
“I was really nervous about locker room culture and long hours apart, but he’s not a direct reflection of the worst parts of athletic culture, and we’ve learned to manage our busy schedules harmoniously. I’ve learned how sweet and loyal an athlete can be ― to the city he plays in, to the players he coaches, to the community,” she said. “And ironically I’m now living my life as an artist.“
Your job is one signal about your ambitions and how you want to spend your days, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
“When I think about my partner, what he does for a living is not ranking on the list of what I value most about him and will never be,” Ofodu said.
Ali Jackson, a dating coach, said it’s important for people to continuously evaluate if their profession deal breaker is “actually leading you to the aligned partnerships that you’re looking for,” she said.
“I heard that people don’t like to date consultants, because they travel and they’re really busy. That’s not necessarily true,” Jackson said as an example. “I have a lot of friends who are consultants and their clients are in the same city that they live in.”
The jobs most likely to get matches are in tech, health care and education, according to OkCupid research.
But whether or not it’s good for our love lives, factoring in someone’s job into our dating calculus is here to stay. There is data to back up how our jobs can shape the volume of matches and interest our dating profiles will generate.
Many of the popular dating apps used in the U.S. are owned by one large company called Match Group, which includes Hinge, Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, The League, and more. Two companies from Match Group shared with HuffPost some of the most desired jobs people on apps hold.
The most popular careers OkCupid daters are mentioning in their profiles are in tech; health care, such as doctors and nurses; engineering; education, like teachers; and marketing, said Michael Kaye, director of brand marketing and communications at OkCupid.
Adding these kinds of jobs to your profile can help you be “more successful” on the app, particularly if you’re a nurse, he said.
“On OkCupid, people who share that they are a nurse have a 37% higher chance of having a conversation, and are 62% more likely to exchange numbers with another dater,” Kaye said, noting that the dataset could not be separated by gender.
Why are more people into nurses and teachers than professions like lawyers? It might be because of the positive associations we hold about these jobs.
“Singles working in tech and health care are really popular on OkCupid,” Kaye said. “I actually think it makes sense. When we think of people working in tech, we assume they are great communicators, they’re problem solvers. For health care workers, we think of them as, you know, caring or nurturing.”
When I asked Sharabi about why marketing jobs, nurses and teachers topped the OkCupid list, she noted that it was interesting because these professions were not necessarily the highest earners, but they were people-oriented jobs that required strong interpersonal skills.
“If you’re a nurse, you’re interacting with patients all day, and you’re seeing people at their worst when they’re in pain...Like, if you can handle that, you’re probably a pretty good conversationalist,” she said. “And so maybe you’re better on dates, because you’re so used to talking to people...versus somebody whose job is to sit at a desk computer all day, and so they’re not interacting with people as much.”
On The League, the most popular job title is social media manager for women and private equity associate for men.
On The League, a dating app designed for career-driven people, the app requires users to sync their LinkedIn to verify employment and to help build out what’s seen on their profile. The employment verification makes it harder for “bad actors to go and create a fake LinkedIn profile with ‘a fake rocket scientist at NASA,’” said Amanda Bradford, the founder and CEO of The League.
“I basically built it for me,” she said. “I really wanted to know someone’s professional and education background when I’m deciding if I want to go on a date with them.”
For women on The League, the most popular job titles that led to the most interest from potential matches were in media, management and finance. They were: 1. Social media manager 2. Associate consultant 3. Investment banking analyst4. Territory manager 5. Co-Founder
For men on The League, the job titles generating the most interest were in finance and banking. They were: 1. Private equity associate 2. Investment banking analyst3. MBA candidate 4. Trader5. Chief Operating Officer
Bradford’s theory on these careers is that many of these jobs require multiple degrees and people with advanced degrees gravitate towards each other.
“They need the tools that help them meet people, because they’re not going to the bars, they are not going to the gala. They are working to the bone to get through all the schooling and residency hours they need to,” she suggested.
Nick Notas, a dating coach for men, said the finance-focused job titles on the most coveted list for men on The League “signify more than just a job; they represent dedication, ambition and financial stability,” he said. “In an increasingly challenging world, it’s natural for women to want partners who have a higher chance of providing a strong, secure future.”
Sharing your fancy job is meant to solicit that first flirtatious “hi how are you? :)” message, but of course, all these assumptions about what your job may signal can be completely wrong. Just because someone seems like they are wealthy and ambitious based on what they do for work doesn’t mean that’s true.
Maybe you can find your future soulmate by shared goals? That’s what the League is now trying.
In addition to letting people filter matches by education and industry, Bradford said The League also recently introduced “GoalMates” to help users find people who have similar goals to them like writing a novel or filling up a passport. The goal is to expand people’s searches for romantic partners beyond where they went to school or what they do for work.
In this way, if you’re on The League and you are filtering out people without certain degrees but “you have a similar goal as someone who maybe didn’t go to college or went to community college...we’re still going to show you that GoalMate,” Bradford said.
“If you actually look at what makes a long term-relationship successful, it isn’t necessarily that you’re in the same industry, or at the same level, or in the same career piece, it’s actually if you have shared goals,” she explained.
There are pros and cons to being upfront about your job and title in a dating bio.
So, knowing that your job does make a difference with matches, should you share your job and exact employer on a profile? There are clear advantages and disadvantages to either choice.
Not mentioning your job at all can create questions about what you’re hiding if everyone else is sharing their job. By prompting people to share their profession in a bio, Sharabi said dating apps are creating a norm on the platform and sending a message to users that, “This is something that should be important to you.”
But being extremely specific about your job has consequences, too.
Bradford said she is of the camp to be more specific about your job when it’s safe for you, because your title can be impressive to other potential matches. “I want to know, like, ‘Is this person an SVP at JP Morgan? Are they an analyst at JPMorgan?’ Those are very different roles,” she said. Because The League is also purposefully “kind of like a LinkedIn community,” she said sharing more helps people on the app network professionally, too.
But the big con to being specific about what you do is that it can make you more visible to strangers, and that can create safety issues, particularly for women.
Jackson said she used to have her employer and title listed in her dating app profile, but she now chooses not to.
“The reason I made that change is because I actually got several LinkedIn messages from men who would see me on a dating app and find me based on my title and company,” Jackson said. “And obviously, I didn’t match with these men. They just saw my profile, and they reached out like that was an appropriate thing to do. And it made me feel so violated.”
Even after taking out her company, men would still find her on LinkedIn only knowing her common first name and job title of “Vice President at Retail.” Now her profession is listed more vaguely as “E-comm strategy,” Jackson said.
“I don’t think that what you do signals enough that it’s worth that risk,” Jackson said about why she recommends against sharing your employer on a dating profile, particularly for women.
“If you are really into your career, and that’s like a front and center thing in your life, then finding people who are aligned with that is awesome. In my opinion, you can do that without sharing exactly where you work,” Jackson said. “Like there are ways in your profile to speak to your passion for your work.“
When I asked Bradford, who uses the League, about how she discloses on her dating profile, she said she has gone back and forth on her approach. She noted that if she were on Hinge or Tinder, she would mention The League specifically, but on her own app, she mentions only “Tech Founder.”
She’s aware that it’s different from the advice she is giving to her community on the app. Bradford said she was torn at first with this choice because “I’m asking everyone else to say what they do. And then look at me giving myself special treatment by saying I’m just a tech founder,” she said.
But when she was open about being the head of The League, “A lot of people just wanted to ask me a bunch of questions. And they weren’t actually there to date me. They almost wanted to find out how The League worked,” she said. “And I think maybe tell their friends they went on a date with The League founder.”
Bradford said she now keeps out her exact title because she doesn’t want the first questions to be all about, “What do you do for work?” and about how The League algorithm works.
“I’m like, let’s talk about this on our second date, because it can end up dominating the whole conversation,” she said.
It’s a reminder of how careers indeed matter, but on a dating app, too much talk of your job in a first interaction can feel transactional ― even when your job is leading a dating app. We want to be seen for who we are, not simply for what our job can do for someone.
This post originally appeared on HuffPost.