Let’s face it: Dating is a lot like looking for the perfect candidate for a job. You have an idea about your ideal match, and you look for ways to find the most desirable catch. I can’t guide you on how to fall in love, but as a professional recruiter, I can share some tips on finding the perfect professional mate. This is a relationship you will both be in for many years. Why leave it to chance?
Think About the Ideal match
It all starts when you create a job description. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you know when you find it? Sure, serendipity sometimes plays a role, but serendipity can also bring you a frog instead of a prince.
Finding a successful romantic partner requires evaluating aptitude, experience, and compatibility, just like an executive needs training, experience, and the right management style to succeed in a new organization. Make sure you are clear about what kind of person you are seeking. You and your eventual hire will both benefit from thinking ahead.
Determine Your Core Identity
Education, health, integrity, financial stability, interest in starting a family or adopting a dog, and (especially today) political persuasions are highly important criteria in seeking a perfect romantic match — and they’re all criteria that depend, in large part, on your personal identity.
A perfect professional match will also depend, in part, on the identity of your organization. You and your hire need to be on the same page about what you will both need from this new relationship to be happy. That entails making sure the applicant knows ahead of time what kind of relationship they will be joining.
Desirables Are Essential, Too
Desirable qualifications — as opposed to necessary skills — may seem to be less essential, but they are in fact extremely relevant.
If you are a sports enthusiast, chances are your relationship with a romantic partner will be more successful if you share that interest. The same goes for button collectors, science-fiction readers, heavy-metal-concert goers, grunge-art lovers, and Asian-Latin fusion foodies.
Include in your job description the interests and activities that are most important to you and your relationship with a new hire, and measure candidates against those desirable characteristics.
Try to Find Someone Who Isn’t Looking
These days, dating apps take core interests into account when they offer potential matches. Yet, when you seek your ideal match, your pool is often limited to those who are also active seekers on the same app (and many of them post 20-year-old photos).
Any recruiter will tell you that, statistically speaking, the most qualified candidates are those who are not on the market. They may be ready to leave another commitment, or they may be so busy pursuing a career that they’ve given little thought to finding their ideal partner — until you show up, that is. How do you identify these passive candidates?
As in any good search, you start with a research plan: Where are these candidates to be found, how do you identify them, and how do you reach them? Online apps like LinkedIn and Facebook can be a start, but more targeted research can be even more effective.
For example, if you are an art lover, do you look for prospective partners at museums and gallery openings? If you are a foodie, do you look in local cooking courses? If you are a basketball fan, do you keep an eye out at the Lakers game?
The same applies to business relationships. Do prospects who share your interests belong to associations or affinity groups that align with your preferences?
Check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:
Don’t Give Up Too Soon
Of course, identifying an ideal match is only the first step. After that, you have to establish contact and initiate a meaningful conversation. Don’t be discouraged by someone’s initial indifference or a lack of response. An experienced recruiter will tell you that it takes 25-30 attempts at outreach to identify one qualified and interested candidate. You only need a few to begin the evaluation process.
But it does require work. Have a 5-Hour Energy drink, and don’t quit before you reach your goal!
What Is Their Track Record?
After you’ve established a connection, you need to take a closer look at who you’re talking to. Some of the key things a recruiter looks for in a candidate are stability and duration of employment. It stands to reason that someone with a history of stable and sustained employment relationships is also likely to make a long-term commitment to you. Someone who likes to “date” without a long-term commitment or who has a new relationship every two years (and an “I Love Mom” tattoo) is unlikely to change that pattern of behavior. That’s not the match for you. Seek the person who plans to be in your company’s life for many years.
Don’t Forget to Vet Your Match
Even when a recruiter identifies an outstanding candidate, they still need to do their due diligence and check references. People are on their best behavior at the beginning of a relationship; they aren’t always consistent for the long haul (or after a few drinks).
Do your own due diligence on a finalist. Public records and social media profiles contain a wealth of information, and it’s in your best interest to uncover surprises before you commit. Much like you talk to a romantic partner’s family and friends to learn more about them, it’s a good idea to talk to your potential hire’s relevant professional connections.
Red flags at the start of a relationship mean disaster later. Don’t overlook them!
In the End, You May Not Fall in Love
When all is said and done, none of this guarantees that you will fall in love. As Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It, “Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?” That mysterious spark that draws two people together can’t be manufactured, but at least the right recruitment approach may provide the opportunity for it to happen.
Your perfect match is out there. Don’t give up!
Joe McCormack is the founding partner of McCormack+Kristel.