Love at First Profile View: Hiring and Online Dating

The dating website eHarmony announced that it would be moving into the jobs recruiting market, touting that its relationship services will work just as well for job placement and recruiting.

While the initial outcry has been fierce, most companies already use social media for recruiting on a daily basis. As new platforms emerge and LinkedIn becomes a staple, there are still a few places where both recruiting and dating need to go further than chatting and profile viewing.

Both dating and recruiting are risky, time-consuming, involve some sort of special connection and necessitate meeting for the first time. For eHarmony, an algorithm will line up categories that match candidates, and after exchanging a few emails, they meet in person. But it’s the in-person interview that gets the process rolling.

“The goal in interviews is to make a strong connection between the hiring manager’s needs and what you offer,” said Miriam Salpeter, a social media strategist, new economy job coach and author of “Social Networking for Career Success.”

When trying to impress someone, however, candidates can come on too strong. HR recruiters tend to scoff at clich? lines such as “my weakness is that I work too hard and need to slow down every once in a while.” In the same way, on a date, a guy or girl wants to be the “real me” and still come off as sleek as the Facebook profile.?

“I don’t think it’s really about ‘being yourself’ in a job interview as much as it is about clearly describing what role you can play in the organization and how you help solve their problems,” Salpeter said.

First and foremost, for dating and recruiting, the candidate has to relate to the other person: how you fit in the person’s life, not how the person will fit into yours. To show they are person, not a robot, candidates need to exhibit the character traits that correspond to the position they are proposing to fill.

“If they are good listeners, willing to laugh at themselves when appropriate and able to easily converse with new people, those are all good traits to demonstrate,” Salpeter said.

Jessica Miller-Merrell specializes in workplace and technology strategy and blogs at Bloggins4Jobs. She warns against pretense in interviews and first dates.

“Don’t try to be someone else. It’s too hard and exhausting pretending. It’s better to make the right choice than end up divorcing or leaving your job once you realized the role and company is not for you. This goes both ways, and employers need to accurately represent themselves too,” Miller-Merrell said.

Everyone knows that hiring recruiters can find out about candidates’ personal lives through posts and online activity. What everyone doesn’t realize is that this is potentially illegal.

“Social media provides more personal information available, which could be a concern if they are making hiring decisions that are based on protected information,” Miller-Merrell said. Hiring managers can end up committing what she calls “social media discrimination,” where a recruiter uses information protected by law to influence the hiring decision. Protected information includes age, sex, religion, disability, genetic information, race, national origin and pregnancy.

“I’m a social media proponent, but I am cautious of how HR professionals and businesses should use it because I have been on the receiving side of a multitiered, class-action lawsuit,” Miller-Merrell writes on her blog.

Another area that it is difficult to gauge via online algorithms is commitment.

“Most hiring managers want to hire someone who will stay,” Salpeter said.

But it’s not always easy to judge. On LinkedIn, for instance, recruiters might look at the length of time an individual worked at the previous position, identifying “pain points” or areas of concern and always confirming, or checking for feedback from customers. Salpeter adds that it’s not all about what the candidate is offering.

“Recruiters can attract those seeking stability by offering stability themselves. Most people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. Organizations who teach their supervisors to manage effectively and those who put time, effort and resources into developing their employees professionally and who value their people (beyond just saying “our people are our strongest asset”) will go far in that regard.”

These are functions that don’t necessarily relate to the hiring process but are instrumental in making sure the choice is effective. Are you accurately representing the company? What do current employees say about their managers? Addressing these questions early on can effectively improve the recruiting process.

Another way to hedge risks against noncommitters is to meet the candidate halfway — to anticipate his or her needs.
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“Many employees are seeking work-life fit and flexibility, and employers who value their top performers will adapt and adjust so their employees are able to manage their lives and their work,” Salpeter said.

Finally, job boards and LinkedIn profiles don’t necessarily allow a recruiter to gauge how an employee will fit into the workplace culture. This has to be accomplished through relationships — ascertaining how the candidate interacts with others, Miller-Merrell said.

“Get to know the candidate, be approachable and ask questions. You want the job seeker to be their real self, because this way you can make a better hiring assessment for the long term,” Miller-Merrell said.

Mary Camille Izlar is an editorial intern at Talent Management magazine. She can be reached at editor@talentmgt.com.