Today I’m going to share my thoughts on how job boards are similar to online dating. After all, “everyone” says that job boards will be the end of the recruiting industry, and “everyone” also says that you have to look online to find your ideal date. All these experts must be on to something, right? From my limited experience with both job boards and Internet dating sites, I’m here to state emphatically that job boards aren’t going to put recruiters out of business anytime soon. (Disclosure: NPA recently launched a job board.)
1. Sometimes the whole is less than the sum of its parts. People exaggerate. Heck, sometimes they just plain lie. This applies to both candidates and dating prospects. The information that people supply in their resumes or their online profiles isn’t always accurate. It often adds up to much less than what you might initially believe. As far as I can tell, neither job boards nor dating sites have figured out a way to correct for this.
2. You can’t really get to know a candidate (or a potential date) without talking to him or her, maybe even face-to-face. You can get some good initial screening from a job board or a dating site, but you can’t determine “fit” without talking to someone. There are candidates who have the skill set your client needs, but they don’t fit the company culture. They’re simply not going to work out in the long run. Similarly, I’ve encountered some dating prospects who are interesting people, but they just aren’t going to mesh with my family, friends and life.
3. At best, both job boards and dating sites give you a very simple “surface view.” Ultimately, most jobs (especially professional, career-type roles) involve a lot more than rote exercises. They require complex thinking, problem solving, creativity, and flexibility that can’t be easily evaluated on a job board. While a candidate may have the basic technical skills to perform a task, most clients won’t be satisfied with that.
4. The “matches” are questionable. I’ve had some pretty strange “matches” delivered from online dating sites, from people with “alternative” lifestyles to out-of-state retirees looking for a nursemaid/housekeeper to a man who’d been widowed only 24 hours earlier. I’m pretty sure it should have been OBVIOUS from my profile that’s not what I’m looking for… if a person had been reading it, instead of a computer. Both job boards and online dating sites use keywords and other data to develop algorithms that generate “matches.” Sometimes, the matches just don’t…. match. Even Google doesn’t get it right 100% of the time.
5. The people you’re looking for aren’t online. Truly passive candidates (people who are not actively seeking new opportunities) most likely aren’t on the job boards. They might not even have a current resume. They need to be discovered, and then sold on the idea of a new role. The same seems to be true of dating sites. There are a plethora of people I’d NEVER want to date. There isn’t a job board or dating site on earth that can find people who aren’t on their system.
6. Hiring, like dating, is a lot more complex than a series of radio buttons on a questionnaire. The first layer, determining a person’s basic qualifications, is the easiest. After that, things get tricky. There are big concepts, nuances, nonverbal cues, and context that all contribute to the “yes or no” decision. It takes a skilled recruiter (or some in-person dates) to delve into these kinds of issues, apply the information, and make an informed recommendation to a client.
The bottom line is this: job boards aren’t the end of recruiting any more than online dating sites are the end of conventional ways to meet new people. And here’s a way that “real” recruiting is a lot like “real” dating. Both activities give you the chance to expand your network and make new friends, even if they aren’t the people you’re looking for right now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, personal relationships are what really matters.
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