She’s Just Not That Into You

Why Hiring and Dating Are More Similar Than You May Think

First of all, in the interest of full disclosure I should say that it is possible some might not think me qualified to write a blog piece that talks about the world of dating.  I met my husband more than 15 years ago and have not dated anyone since, which means my last dating experiences came not only before the days of social media, “meet-ups,” and online dating services, they were also before regular people had cell phones.  If we wanted to meet up with one another, we left messages on each other’s home machines, called the other person during our work day and tried to talk quietly so our co-workers in the next cubicle wouldn’t snicker too much, or (shocking, I know!) made firm plans a day or more in advance.  I doubt many 20-somethings today would even recognize the dating rituals in which we participated. 

So why, you may ask (given my substantial disclaimer upfront) would I presume to speak about how dating and hiring are more similar than one might think?  It is because, although it’s been a while since I have been out on the market for both things, I remember clearly the feelings and thoughts I experienced when I was—and they are almost identical.  “Does he like me?” “Did I make a good impression?”  “I wonder if they will call me this week?”  “How long should I wait before I call them?” “Am I really that interested?  How will I know?”  One of the most important—and most difficult—characteristics of success in either scenario is a clear understanding of your own needs and value proposition and how they match up with the qualities and interests of the other party.

As hiring managers (or in my case, search consultants), it is easy to become seduced by someone’s credentials and qualifications—their Ivy League degrees, deep and relevant experiences, referrals and high recommendations from trusted sources – and forget that the candidate selection process should be a give and take on both sides.  We need to make sure they are passionate about and committed to us as much if not more than we are passionate about and committed to them.  Otherwise, we are like the guy in the movie chasing the ideal catch and losing sight of the really great girl next door who loves us for who we are.  If a potential hire is haggling aggressively about money, taking forever to respond about an offer, or easily swayed to consider another opportunity, it’s probably a good sign that he or she is just not that into you and your time will be better spent finding someone passionate about your mission and committed to working with you for the long term.

Similarly, it is important for organizations to not only put their best foot forward, confident in the value they are offering to employees, but also to be realistic and honest about the challenges new hires will face when and if they come on board.  Deception during the courting phase doesn’t do anyone any favors and can lead both parties down a path of regret, frustration, or hurt.  If a lasting match is to be made, it will be because both sides have been open and honest about their strengths and weaknesses and have decided together that they can work through their differences and form a strong, enduring partnership.  Regardless of how people find one another, it is these kinds of relationships that lead to great things in terms of high levels of loyalty and job satisfaction and—most importantly—long-lasting sector impact.