What Do Recruiting and Dating Have in Common?

July 30, 2013

A long time ago, in a town not so far away, I was an eligible bachelor going to school and working full-time. I had not yet discovered my current profession, professional recruiter extraordinaire.

Before I knew I wanted to be a recruiter, I was single, and dating off and on for a number of years. Neither dating, or for that matter being a recruiter, was easy. I had to learn a few tricks along the way: sell myself, fall down, get up, fall down again, be a master story teller, keep the person engaged, and eventually successfully recruit a potential life mate or an employee.

I have been happily married now for 13 years. Before I got married, I wasn’t exactly a serial dater. In my professional life, I am not exactly a serial recruiter. This is the first commonality.

Recruiting, like dating, is quality versus quantity.

I don’t like to spam hiring manager with lots of resumes, hoping one sticks. I like to take my time and screen the applicant, see if they are a fit. This is how I approached my dating life. I didn’t say yes to everyone, nor did I waste time on the ones I knew weren’t going to be a fit. The ones I liked, I took my time to get to know more. Disaster typically ensues when either one of two things happens: you push for the wrong applicant, or you date the wrong person. I don’t recommend either.

The second commonality in recruiting and dating is not being enamored by the pretty one.

What do I mean by this?  Well, let’s use an example.

The pretty one

When I first started college I was dating a rather beautiful Hungarian woman who I had met on my last tour of duty in the army. She was a dancer, a model, and all around beauty queen. I knew she wasn’t right, but I was young, and it felt good to be around her. It didn’t work out, and ultimately I found that the beauty didn’t match the relationship that I was seeking.

So, how does this relate to recruiting you ask?  Well, let me tell you. Ever get caught up with that one great candidate?  You know, the pretty shiny one that we all know is perfect on paper, but after talking to them you know it will not work out, but you have to try anyway?  Yeah, you know the one. We all do it. It’s not what makes us a bad recruiter, it just makes us human. Don’t push for the wrong applicant, learn to walk away and you will ultimately be spared years of pain.

The third commonality and probably one of the most critical parts of recruiting and dating is getting a 2nd, or sometimes 3rd opinion; or what I like to call gathering feedback.

In recruiting you need feedback on an applicant to be able to move them to the next phase of the process. Whether it’s a hiring manager (and it typically is), or someone else who knows the applicant, feedback provides the most valuable insight to the person’s skills and abilities. Ultimately, you want to know if the candidate can do the job or not.

In dating, we seek feedback in many different ways. We parade around our potential partner to our friends, and family and anyone else who might want to offer an opinion, whether it’s warranted or not. The feedback we receive and how we use it allows us to make the next choice, or the right choice in some instances. Sometimes we don’t like the feedback, and we advocate for the applicant or our date in a way that becomes uncomfortable. Be careful not to advocate too much, because sometimes the blinders are too thick and you can’t see the forest through the trees.

The fourth, and last commonality I would like to discuss is communication.

Communication, they say, is the rock to any relationship. It’s the same in recruiting. We can’t do our day-to-day job without it.  Whether you like to communicate online via email or chat, text, or other means, don’t forget to also pick up the phone. The power of the phone in recruiting should not be taken lightly. Direct communication with applicants or hiring managers is always the best way, like in a romantic relationship, because what you are saying will not get lost in translation. You don’t have to guess the voice inflections, mood, temperament (unlike email).


Finding the perfect match is not easy. Have you seen that list of the top 10 most stressful things that happen in one’s life?  Right behind death, illness, and divorce of most stressful events is job change. As a recruiter, that is what we do for a living; we ask people to change their jobs. In dating, we ask a potential partner to take a leap of faith and hang out with us for a month, or year, or more. It is not only a personal commitment, but emotional one too.

Recruiting and dating are not to be taken lightly. They both are hard work, but the rewards are endless and fruitful. In order to be successful in both keep in mind the four pointers I shared: quality versus quantity, do not be enamored by the pretty one, gathering feedback, and communication.

Recruiting Trends Report 2013

* Images by John&Fish and Enkhtuvshin's 5DmkII