How Hiring is Like Dating

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This is how much you know about someone new at the start.           (Fotolia)

This is how much you know about someone new at the start. (Fotolia)

This week I’m reflecting about meeting “the perfect person.” In this case, the perfect employee. The fact is, if people were as picky about their dates as they are about who they hire, most people would be single. People who use dating websites are generally open to meeting someone who is an 80 percent match. Some might even go five percentage points on either side…after all, serendipity is part of the process. Few people, at least once they’ve been at it awhile, require a 99 percent match. But employers do.

They want someone who has all the skills they need today as well as the ones they might need tomorrow.  Someone who got 2400 on the SATs, has a sterling work history and dresses from the same clothing store as the hiring manager. In the dating world, if your standards are that exacting, you can just wait—for years–until the perfect person appears. But you can’t do that in the business world.

To be fair, in the dating world, you can also “try someone out,“ for quite a while before making a commitment. When companies try to do that, by hiring someone as a contractor then switching them to an employee with the same job, they run afoul of Fair Labor Laws.

Hiring has an element of risk. If you hire 10 people, you can pretty much count on at least one of them not working out. Since that’s the reality, the best you can do is your due diligence. Make sure your assessments actually measure whether the person can handle the duties of the job. Conduct background checks to ensure neither your company nor employees are at risk.  But once you’ve figured out exactly what the employee needs to be good at, interviewed candidates and run your assessments, you need to pick somebody.

Sometimes I run across hiring managers who have commitment issues. These people:

  • Have seen 5-10 candidates who meet their stated criteria and all of them have fallen short.
  • Have found someone who fits like a glove, but suddenly the criteria shifts, and shifts again.
  • Want to hire someone they “don’t have to manage.”

There’s no such thing. People need to be managed. Not micromanaged, but managed. If you’re a team lead…you’re a manager.

When I see situations like the ones I just listed, that’s a red flag to me. It tells me we’re dealing with a problem with the hiring manager, not the candidates. Sometimes it’s because the hiring manager is gun shy. They are making assumptions based on past experience.

The last time I asked a candidate that question and he answered in that way he turned out to be a problem. I’m afraid this guy is going to be a problem just like the last guy.”

This is not actually a cause-and-effect thing but almost more of a superstition. It shows up in dating, too.

His name is Chad. I just don’t have a good track record with guys named Chad.”

No matter how nervous or careful you are or how much due diligence you do, you’re hiring a person. People get sick, have personal clashes with other people, fall in love with people in other states and decide to relocate, get better job offers, have mid-life or mid-20s crises.

We’re not predictable.

What is predictable is that if you try to run your business without a key employee for a long time, you’ll wind up in a mess.

That’s the stuff we like to think about in mid February.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

ValentineHR has helped hundreds of companies with thousands of hires. We have People Evaluation down, though every company is unique. We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.

We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.

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