10 Rules for Dating and Recruiting

(Editor’s note: With so many new ERE members coming on all the time, we thought that each week we’d republish one popular classic post. Here’s one, below, that was a big 2008 hit.)

Dating and recruiting have a lot in common. Learn how to improve your recruiting efforts by applying the most common dating rules.

Dating rule #1
First impressions are critical.

Recruiting application:
Differentiate yourself. Resist the “I have a great position for you” especially if you have never spoken to them.

Dating rule #2
Don’t believe everything you see. We have all heard stories from people that signed up for an online dating service and were shocked when their date was two feet shorter and 10 years older than the profile.

Recruiting application:
Candidates exaggerate their strengths and skills and down play their weaknesses. Do not assume anything. Prescreen, interview, administer assessments, and call the references before you present the candidate to your hiring manager.

Dating rule #3
Play hard to get. Desperation is the world’s worst perfume.

Recruiting application:
If you make a huge fuss over the candidate and beg them to interview, you will diminish your negotiating power.

Dating rule #4
Be selective. You can not change people.

Recruiting application:
Look for the red flags; don’t avoid them. It is better for you to uncover any candidate weaknesses or issues than your hiring manager discovering them. Your name and reputation is all you have in this business.

Dating rule #5
Prepare for the date.

Recruiting application:
If your candidate has spent 20 minutes on the phone with you and takes time off work to come to interview, and then you ask them “so, tell me what you want to do?” — you are wasting the candidate’s time. You should have notes on the candidate’s resume that you want to clarify, and if appropriate, the company profiles that best match what your candidate’s needs.

Dating rule #6
Don’t talk too much. People who express the “enough about me, what do you think about me?” attitude sit home alone, a lot.

Recruiting application:
The candidate should be doing most of the talking. Assess what the candidate has to offer, what they need, and then set expectations of how you will work together. Let the candidate talk about the interview before you disclose the hiring manager’s view. If you blurt out “they love you, you are the best candidate they have ever met!” — what do you think happens to the candidate’s salary requirements?

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Dating rule #7
Follow up with your date.

Recruiting application:
As an industry, one of the biggest complaints we get from candidates and hiring managers is the lack of communication. No news is still considered news to the candidate; make sure you keep your candidate in the loop.

Dating rule #8
Don’t be afraid to end the date early.

Recruiting application:
Prescreen carefully, ask the hard questions, and always tell the candidate the truth. If they are not going to fit into your recruiting focus (skills, salary expectations, location, etc.), coach or make suggestions regarding who may be able to help them in the market.

Dating rule #9
Improve your odds by hanging out where (like) people hang out.

Recruiting application:
If you are recruiting technology talent, sign up and participate in technology activities in your market. Volunteer at association meetings to check members in: you will meet every attending member, every meeting.

Explain to people you meet that there are two types of people you would like to be introduced to: those who are leaders in their field and are looking for an opportunity and those who are leaders in their field and are not looking for an opportunity right now. You are an expert in your market, so people who are not looking now would still benefit from knowing you and the people in your network.

Dating Rule #10
They will not buy the cow if they are getting the milk for free.

Recruiting application:
When you agree to represent a candidate, you are entering into a business agreement. You need to set clear expectations of how the process must work. If the candidate will not agree to the terms, they are not committed to you, so turn them loose.

Amy Kimmes works as the Director of Field Operations for Technisource, a large IT solutions firm. An Ohio State University grad, she applies her 10 years of industry experience developing and facilitating recruiter and account executive training.


16 Comments on “10 Rules for Dating and Recruiting

  1. Amy,
    Love this light-hearted but serious advice about recruiting and interviewing. Lots of great points especially #5, 7, & 8. One thought though about #5. I’m sure that when you say have “notes on the resume” you do not mean actually written on the resume. Better to keep your notes separate. Resumes are discoverable and must be kept on file. Anything you write on them could be mis-interpreted and come back to bite you. Thanks for this article,
    Ron Katz

  2. Very good analogies! I have on more than one occasion been disappointed in my candidates’ lack of responsiveness, poor interviewing, etc. Doing the work up front to ensure they are a good fit – in terms of their cooperativeness, skills-match and organizational fit saves a lot of headaches.

  3. I agree recruiting & dating are similar, and while the “courtship rites” are different, the goal of a happy “marriage” is basically the same.

    With regards to point #2, this cuts both ways. From the candidate’s POV nothing is worse than over-selling the job in the ad or during the interview and painting a much rosier picture than what the candidate can realistically expect.

    In an age where exaggerating on a resume (if not outright lying) is common, employers are often guilty of taking similiar liberties in their job descriptions.

    Be mindful of employment branding and live up to your own hype.

  4. I always encourage candidates to go for the “goodnight kiss” by reaffirming their interest in the job (the dating equivalent of “call me”), highlighting their skills, and asking about next steps in the interview process (the dating equivalent of “will I see you again?).”

    For more tips from the job seeker’s perspective, check out the post I wrote for Brazen Careerist http://tinyurl.com/9ksyac

  5. As regards Rule#2, do not call references until an offer, contigent upon satisfactory references, is extended to the candidate. Candidate references are very annoyed when contacted, during their busy work day, when there is no business reason for taking their time. Until an offer is extended a business reason does not exist.
    As regards Rule #6, do not dominate the conversation, particularly by asking questions. Ask questions, excessively, create barriers in a relationship. And, never ask inappropriate questions, e.g., those that ask for confidential information. And, don’t play at analyzing the candidate – if you ate not a licensed therapist then you are an amateur.
    As regards Rule #8, do not coach or make suggestions! Making a negative evaluation of a subjective evaluation and best kept to yourself. Criticizing a candidate just damages your company’s reputation, and invite retaliation.
    As regards Rule #9, unless you are a senior technologist/engineer then you lack the basic knowledge needed to interview a technology/engineering candidate. And, never tell this type of candidate that you have an opportunity that matches their skill set.

  6. Charles, if we confined interviewing to people who do what what we know, we’d only be able to interview recruiters (if that)! Unless it’s a highly-specialized, in-group discussion, I think most recruiters should be able to ask almost anyone what they do and get an intelligble, understandable answer.


    Keith “Knows When to Talk and When to Shut Up, Most of the Time” Halperin

  7. Wonderful dating rules,hope they really do work in the real life too.As what exactly you hope or wanting to have you never get that.

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