How I Used Tinder to Figure Out What I Wanted To Do With My Life | by Bessy Tam

How I Used Tinder to Figure Out What I Wanted To Do With My Life

Published on 17 October 2018 by Bessy Tam | Filed in Career

I hear a lot of my friends say, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life/career!” Instead of talking about it they try to research online where information is too broad and limited. The most important part I feel is to know the specifics of a job, industry, and company and see whether you like it or not. I call this building your Criteria List that matches the type of career you want to have. And you can only get this current and in-depth information through talking to people. That’s why I resulted to Tinder!

How Did I Result to Tinder?

I graduated college a year early when I was 20. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at that time and was lonely since all my friends were in school. So, I wanted to find the fastest way possible to meet the smartest and coolest people in my hometown.

I thought of going to networking events, but it seemed really sleezy and didn’t think I’d be able to have meaningful conversations.I thought of meeting friends of friends, which I did eventually did, but it was not very scalable. Then I thought of going to industry events or events based on my interests like fitness/yoga but couldn’t meet people as well-rounded as I needed them to be to give me a broader perspective of life.

And that’s when I suddenly thought of Tinder. My theory was:

  • Busy, successful people would result to Tinder because it’s such a fast platform for quick in-between coffees, lunches, dinners, and drinks

  • The possibilities of meeting cool people are huge since there are 26 million matches per day on Tinder

  • The users would be sociable since they would’ve had a bit of experience holding conversations with people

  • I could also see specific personal/work information on their Tinder profiles to qualify specific types of people I’d want to meet

Plus, I was just curious how the platform worked anyways  #singleforever

In any case, I could tell them that I was looking for pure friendships. If they liked that idea, then great. If they didn’t, that’s great too.

What did I get out of it?

A Strong Network:
I got to meet a bunch of cool friends with unique backgrounds and intelligent minds. I learned everything about having a healthy lifestyle and driven mentality through a network marketer I met on the platform as well. This gave me access to a wider global community of side hustlers and fitness fanatics. I still keep in touch with all of them today.

Strong Communication Skills
If small talk is hard in person, try it in text! Now I can talk to anyone on the street and I really have Tinder to thank. Because I was interested in learning about my date, I learned to ask great questions and to listen well. This helped me succeed in everything that I did afterwards, including job interviews, sales/consulting, love life.

A Broader View of the World
In school, you learn about getting a job. I got to meet startup founders, investors, teachers and understood the possibilities of not having a 9-5 job but learning to earn passive income for myself. Some of the people I’ve met:

  • Full time family business owner/real estate manager and half time Magician

  • Professional Soccer player in Germany turned corporate finance

  • Swiss who built a business in Shanghai, helping other Swiss move to Asia

  • Bar manager in Hong Kong

  • Venture capital manager supporting business from the US expand to Asia

  • Startup founder of a marketplace app, similar to Tinder that matches interests

What it Looked Like to Love What you do
With the 8 people I met with and 70 people I chat with on the app, I got to see:

  1. What their field/job/company was like

  2. How I could compare people with similar backgrounds, industries, jobs, personalities and make educated judgements/opinions about those commonalities

  3. What it took to love what you do

  4. How I could apply parts of their jobs that I liked to my career, building my “Criteria List”

The Most Important Part: Building your Criteria List

Throughout the whole process of meeting people on Tinder, I realized that in order to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I needed to know what I liked or didn’t like – That’s where I started to create my own “Criteria List.” This was a list of criteria I made that bulletpointed certain features of my ideal career and lifestyle. These were criterias I continually added as I met more people.

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It was important for me to build my Criteria List – otherwise I’d accept any job that hired me and be completely miserable within the first few weeks. I see this a lot amongst my friends who don’t take the time to evaluate what they want out first before creating their resume. It’s also a global phenomenon where 1-in-7 people feel under-employed in their jobs and 51% are completely disengaged with their job ((Accenture) and Gallup). What kind of life would that lead to? And really, what would that look like on your resume if you just kept changing jobs every year or you don’t manage to do the spectacular work that you know you’re capable of? You spend 50% of your wake hours at your job, it’s important for you to get what you need to thrive.

To be fair, it’s no one’s fault that people apply to jobs before they know what they want. Society, friends, and family puts a lot of pressure on us to “find a job.” I struggled with that whilst I was funemployed for 10 months post college. During family lunches my cousins would laugh at me asking whether I had a job yet. Mind you, Asian families have family lunches almost every week, imagine how much pressure I was in. I almost took the first job that hired me but my parents told me to take my time. Either way, instead of blaming the society for putting pressure on me, I understood that it was an inevitable pressure I put onto myself and I needed to take a few steps back to really figure out what’s best for me.

Examples of How I Build My Criteria List:
For example, I met a few startup founders through Tinder. I went to Babson, a school known for entrepreneurship, so I was keen to learn how these entrepreneurs succeeded, failed, and whether it was for me. I saw how startups were not as glamorous as what I’ve read online and how they needed to work late nights to get to where they are now. And of course, how in the end of the day, whether they lived in China (not ideal) or moved all the way from Europe to Hong Kong to start this business, they truly loved what they do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I reflected a lot after I got home from each conversation and learned that I wanted to find a place that had the quick decision making, small team feel, sense of ownership, and agility of a startup because this was what made me succeed in Babson College, working in small project/extracurricular groups. At the same time, I continued searching for people who were in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry for me to talk to. I learned that compared the Criteria List I initially created, the entertainment industry had slow decision making, huge hierarchies, and sense of passive acceptance for the roles that were given to them. With that, I decided acting was not for me and applied to small medium/tech businesses where I learned from my Tinder dates had the qualities I wanted from my Criteria List.

Another example was I met a filmmaker/creative director, magician/business owner, and guitarist/startup developer. I’ve always found other artists fascinating since I’ve danced for 20+ years, played the Electone for 20+ years, and played the clarinet for 8 years. I understood how business aka money played a large part in their creativity and artistry, how they could leverage their creativity to lead and perform at work, and how the flexibility of being a business owner and director allowed them to spend time on their music/art. Even though they can’t work in the arts full time, they still enjoyed it as a hobby, performing here and there in their spare time, even going on tv. There were three things I reflected from our conversations #1 I am super passionate about the arts and want to use my business knowledge to help support artists around the world #2 I liked that they had flexible hours that fueled their creativity and decided I needed a job that allowed me to work wherever and whenever I wanted to work #3 There is no such thing as having one specialized career path, I could always incorporate my interests into work and life.

Shouldn’t I Just Accept Whatever’s in Front of Me?

I built an extensive Criteria List after 10 months of funemployment and quite a few interviews/applications simultaneously. Even though it’s daunting to ask for what I want after I get job offers, it was best for both the company and for me and I can tell you why:

For the company, It’s because of supply and demand: According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Database, Millennials make up one-fourth of the planet’s population, which translates into 1.7 billion people. PWC’s report says by 2020, millenials will make up 50% of the global workforce. In addition, 90% of executives say that keeping new hires is a persistent issue in their companies (Korn Ferry). This means, companies want to do the best that they can to attract, hire, retain, and grow the right people in the company. This comes with making sure millennials get what they need. For example:

  • Be able to time off for charity work (Mckinsey, Salesforce)

  • Work flexible hours (Hubspot, Cisco, Accenture)

  • Do 20% passion projects (Google, 3M, HP)

  • Have strong mentors (Intel, Deloitte, Paypal)

  • Transfer internationally (all global companies)

  • And solve big problems (SpaceX, TerraCycle, Google).

(Source: PWC)

For me, it’s because we spend 50% of our waking hours at work. We are definitely not slaves anymore. I’m not sure about you, but I’m not willing to spend so much of my time doing something that I’m not passionate about. I learned this from my time working in the network marketing field and talking to startup founders/freelancers through Tinder. I realized that if I ended up hating my job within the first week of being there, I’d be doing a disservice to both me and the company. I’d be performing my worst at work since I’d be so depressed, giving off negative vibes to other coworkers, whilst I stay there for at least 18 months so that I don’t look too “jumpy”. That’s almost 390 days, 3120 hours of my life spent being depressed. The company wouldn’t be able to do anything to help turn this around.

What Are You Scared of?

“I need to get a job, the recruiters will ask why I have a X-month gap”
If you’re scared of not having a stable job while you’re meeting people, it’s also okay because at least you’re doing something and have some technical skillsets to back your resume. Recruiters asked me what I did during my gap and I would tell them about the countless people I met and work that I’ve done in sales (aka network marketing). I found that they got impressed not only because of my young age but also because of my proactivity, ability to converse with strangers (I didn’t tell them I used Tinder!), and willingness to learn.

If you have a job right now, you could also spend 20% of your time meeting people. This is what I did in my current job, meeting people after work and on weekends, and also how I got a job overseas after meeting some people during lunch/after work on my work trip.

“I don’t want people to know I’m on Tinder.”
As long as I was clear about my purpose of meeting people through drinks or coffees and that I wasn’t not sleeping with them, I realized people were actually more impressed than anything else. They saw that I was bold and almost jealous that I was able to hit up a conversation with anyone I met. Etiher way, you actually don’t have the obligation to tell your friends, family, or recruiters that you’re on Tinder either. You could say you’re just “meeting new people” through events and friends of friends. Tinder could be just a small part of the broader goal of meeting new people.

“I shouldn’t initiate the conversation on Tinder as a woman!”
I didn’t have the patience to actually wait for the guys to respond because I had a weekly goal to meet up with at least 3 people. Then I realized what have I got to lose? I don’t even know them anyway! In a sense, if they thought I was a loser or if they weren’t interested in me, then they wouldn’t have swiped right in the first place. Knowing that they’re interested as well, I felt confident to take the leap and say “Hi there! How are you?” Even if the conversation goes badly, just remember that Tinder says it matches 26 million users per day. You have plenty of fish to fish for.

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 “Oh no, I’ve got matches and I’m getting overwhelmed by the people I need to meet.”
Then I realized, swiping right didn’t mean I’d have to get married to them tomorrow nor have the obligation to go on a date with them. It was a chat and mutual playing field where we were both just getting to know each other. If I couldn’t hold a conversation with them on the Tinder platform for one or two weeks, I told them I wouldn’t be able to meet until they stopped asking.

“I don’t want them to think that I’m interested in dating”
Sure, according to Cornell Research, the mean age on Tinder are 25.2 for women and 25.7 for men with 54% single overall (source). I knew that there was a chance that many of them were looking either for hook ups or casual dating. I made sure I stated in my description that I was only looking to have meaningful face to face conversations. I also got better at figuring out what their key motive was by asking them “so what brought you to Tinder?” I knew that if they were hitting on me, I’d never be able to turn it into a mutual friendship so all I could say is “sorry I don’t think I’m the type of girl/guy you’re looking for but good luck on Tinder! Hope you find what you want! ” then move on. I could’ve just ignored them too but I thought that’d be so rude! In the end of the day, I realized that most Tinder users (in Asia at least) were just looking to meet cool people. Whilst in Australia or western countries, there were many more guys who were just looking to hook up. Either way, the qualifying questions always helped get what I want, I just needed to patiently dig through all the matches.

“They’re too smart and successful for me”
I matched with a lot of successful business owners and people with a lot more experience than I did in life/in their field. Instead of putting myself down, I thought about the ways that I could add value from there. Most of the time, they were bored with life anyway or just keen on meeting interesting people. So instead of comparing myself to them, I always prepped myself by organizing cool stories I could tell, making sure I could bring my best energy to the table, and thinking about new hobbies or places of interest in the city I could talk about. This also comes with having a lot of self awareness – knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie and how you could relate to your Tinder match. Whatever you’re confident about yourself in bringing to the table, bring it, you’ve got nothing to lose.

Hope you’ll be brave and get to meeting people on Tinder! I’d suggest to download the key scripts and questions I used to activate the relationships on Tinder. Remember that you can use these scripts and questions not only on Tinder but for people you meet in events, through friends, or even a coffee shop! The world is your oyster.


  1. (2016), The Keys to Unlocking the Millennial Mindset, Nielsen.
  2. Sagiv, L., & Schwartz, S. H. (2000). Value priorities and subjective well-being: direct relations and congruity effects. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30(2), 177–198.
  3. Wrzesniewski, A., McCauley, C., Rozin, P., & Schwartz, B. (1997). Jobs, careers, and callings: People’s relations to their work. Journal of Research in Personality, 31(1), 21–33.
  4. Newport, C. (2012). So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. Business Plus.
  5. 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back, Fortune 500.
  6. 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility, Fortune 500.
  7. Millenials at Work, Reshaping the Workplace. PWC.

About the Author

Bessy Tam is a career coach who helps marketers get into tech. She’s helped dozens of clients get interviews and offers from companies such as Google, Lyft, Amazon, and Mckinsey. She currently works at Google.