Plenty more candidates in the sea: why recruitment is like the dating game

You’re looking for the One. You stalk profiles, send cryptic messages and set up clandestine meetings in the hope of stealing the dream person from someone else.

Hang on, are we talking dating here - or professional recruitment?

Full of client break-ups and CV make-ups, the romantics of recruitment life are less Beyonce and more Bridget Jones. If your work life is more fulfilling than your love life, take a look at our tongue-in-cheek guide to dating the recruitment way.

1. Figure out your type

Determining your clients’ company ethos and culture is just like figuring out what type of hook-up you want next. The last one turned out to be a terribly flamboyant, pompous character and now you’re ready to look for someone a bit steadier. Who’s the best candidate? And where can you find them?

Your client has requested that you source a calm, placid type of character, but you’re well aware that looking for an introvert means countless interviews with wet lettuces.

2. Stalk profiles

Since you became a headhunter, you have transformed from a regular human being into a keyboard sniper, sneakier than an MI5 spy. You were normal once, yet now you are one of the internet’s most dangerous predators, desperately seeking to sink your teeth into the meatiest CVs.

If you’re working at Jon Lee, for example, you immerse yourself in FMCG jobs until you know more about consumables than you do about conversation. Sexy.

As a project grinds on, finding the ideal candidate seems more and more like trying to find a needle in a haystack. In an act of deadline-induced desperation - like being on a night out, with the clock ticking inexorably towards midnight - you suddenly feel the attraction of characters you’d earlier dismissed as unsuitable.

OK, they don’t have the required numerical intelligence, but they know the basics of sumo wrestling and they did an exam once. You are strongly refusing to be a headhunter who is left on the shelf.

After sourcing candidates became a bit monotonous, you decided to advertise the role two weeks ago, sit back, and wait for the emails to roll in. You have dubbed the role a ‘new position,’ even though the vacancy has been on the internet since 2002 - about the same time you’ve been single.

There are more than 6 billion people in the world but your inbox  - and your diary - is barer than Adam and Eve.

You’re losing hope, until, at the 11th hour, it turns out that good candidates are like night buses - you wait for one forever and then they all come along at once.


3. Play the field

After finally composing a slightly radical list of potential employees, you’re sat stiffly, waiting apprehensively for the arrival of your 83rd victim. The selected specimen hobbles into the interview room and they’re not what you expected. Do you pretend you need the toilet and leave? You can think of much more productive things to be doing than conducting the interview, such as giving your toenails a good clipping.  

The chit chat begins, but only on your behalf. Why do you have to do all of the work? Should you poke them? The 30-minute long process seems to last a decade - a bit like that dinner you once had with an accountant from Solihull.

Once the torture finally ends you could really do with a few throat sweets - and a new pool of potential employees.


4. The not-so-hot dates

The first interview process is over, praise the Lord. You have figured out whose CV was more fabricated than a soap opera and you have have sifted out the high calibre from the humdrum. Feeling proud of yourself, you’re able to arrange interviews with people who actually want to work - as opposed to those who are being forced.

You enthusiastically arrange the final stages of the recruitment process and you interrogate your selected few until you have to unpeel your potential candidate from their very sweaty and suspiciously soggy chair.

You feel like a sadistic dictator, making innocent, lovely little people squirm. All of your candidates are equally great - but which one of them would your client find it easiest to boss about?


5. Meet the family

Triumphant after a bleak beginning, you finally have found the One. Now that you have found your princess, you feel as if all the peasants were worth it. The soulmate has been discovered and you can finally put your worries to bed.

That is of course, until your client rings up asking you to conduct another headhunt. Your matchmaking clearly needs a bit of a polish because the candidate you chose has burnt their employer’s office down and fled to the Australian outback. Oh well - back to the drawing board, there’s plenty more fish in the sea.


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Comment by Nicholas Meyler on February 13, 2015 at 1:37am

Emotionally true.  From the standpoint of facts and logic, though, I see a stretched point.  A well-stretched point, nonetheless.

Comment by Austin Fraser Ltd on February 17, 2015 at 5:25am

This is a great blog post Nina! In a world of Tinder-obsessed, digitally savvy millennials recruitment, much like dating, will no doubt change.

It's vital that recruiters maintain the human interaction element of recruitment. It's all too easy to quickly screen people as if they're commodities rather than people. Thanks for sharing!


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