When my company began hiring a few months back, I couldn’t help but feel like I was online dating. As I read through resumes and cover letters, I wondered: who’s worth swiping right?
Not all of the potentials I had my eye on were a mutual match. Some had salary requirements that didn’t fit our budget and others had accepted another position by the time I reached out. It wasn’t meant to be.
Even still, there were so many matches who clicked with me and my team. Our interviews (mostly) felt like great dates. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by choosing just one, until I realized that the relationship advice we give our clients at eFlirt can apply to our own hiring process, too.
Hiring employees is like choosing your next relationship
When you’re hiring, you’re choosing your next relationship. That’s exactly what we do for our clients – we help them meet their right click online and then develop the relationship in person with someone they can hopefully fall head over heels with. So I thought, “why not translate our own advice to our next hire?”
I ended up hiring someone who has amazing professional chemistry with my team, whose values align with the company, and who is deeply passionate about the work we do. In the spirit of helping you find “The One” for your business too, here are three smart dating tips that you can apply to your hiring process too.
1. Give ‘maybe’ a try
Here’s a surprising dating fact: nearly all of our former clients who are in relationships (which is more than half the people we’ve worked with) fell in love with a “maybe.” It was not the person whose profile made them swoon, but instead, someone they were unsure about on screen. But once they met offline, everything changed.
Consider this when you’re reviewing applicant’s resumes. You won’t know who truly tugs at your professional heartstrings until you’ve interviewed a few different types of people. To find the “maybes,” look for candidates who offer something different than you expected.
Of course, there will be deal breakers – a quality, certification, or degree that’s a must-have for the role. Don’t throw away that list of criteria, but instead, look at who exists on the fringe. For example, someone who worked in another industry previously may have a different viewpoint than a more traditional candidate, and could be an asset in a way you didn’t expect. If you’re struggling to identify who’s considered a “maybe,” watch my TEDx talk on the topic.
2. Focus on the je ne sais quoi
When you meet someone on a dating site, you have information: whether someone has kids, what religion they practice, if you have anything in common. But you don’t know if you have chemistry. That’s why you go on a date — to see if the je ne sais quoi exists. Because of this, I encourage my clients to focus on building chemistry on their first date by hugging their match hello and giving good body language.
When hiring, the same is true. You have information from candidates’ resumes: previous positions they’ve held, any degrees they’ve accomplished, and so on. You know if they have the background that would fit the role. But you still don’t know if you have chemistry. And chemistry is a must. Even if a company culture fit isn’t your biggest concern, the dynamic a person will have with you and other co-workers often determines whether or not they will thrive.
Note the nonverbal cues applicants give you. These are as important as the words they are speaking. And remember, that to get good body language, you need to give good body language, too. If you act closed off, they will reciprocate, so err on the side of transparency and openness.
3. Think about the future
Becoming exclusive is exciting, but scary, too. A lot of my clients are nervous about making the decision to be with one person because … what if it doesn’t work out? It can feel the same when you’re hiring. You’ve only seen a resume and had a few interviews. What if your gut instinct fails you and a few weeks or months later, you need to hire again?
Of course, you can’t go through life wondering, “what if.” Just like dating, hiring has stages of phasing others out, but how you leave it with those who you nearly hired is most important. You never know if you’ll need to hire again soon — even if it’s due to growth.
When saying goodbye to great potential matches because of exclusivity with someone else, I advise my clients to first, show appreciation for getting to know each other. Then, explain that right now, there’s a relationship budding with someone else and they feel it’s important to continue dating the person uninterrupted. And lastly, wish the other person luck. It leaves the door open for future possibility.
When hiring, the words you use will be different — and more firm — but the sentiment similar. Tell the applicant you enjoyed getting to know them. Ultimately, they weren’t chosen for the position. But you still think they could be a fit for the company and will let them know if anything else becomes available.
While looking for your next hire, yes — you’re committing to “The One.” But it’s also not the end of the world if things don’t work out long term, so remove the pressure of looking for your forever match. With luck, your candidate will commit to being your “One,” too.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Laurie Davis is the CEO and Founder of eFlirt, the online dating Concierge service, and author of the best-selling book, Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating. Connect with @eFlirtExpert on Twitter.
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