The Art of “Dating” Companies

Time and time again, we’ve used the metaphor of dating to help our clients understand the many subtle nuances and complexities of the modern hiring process.  Simply put, your chances of finding the perfect fit with an employer right out of the gate, in your first interview, are about the same odds you’d have of going on a blind date and immediately finding your perfect romantic match.  In most cases, instead, it takes a number of interviews before a candidate finds an organization that they truly “fall in love with and want to marry.”  And complicating things further, of course, this feeling has to be mutual…

Taking this analogy one step further, there’s also the fact that companies and candidates, just like single folks out on a date, tend to start the relationship out on their best behavior.  In general, it takes time to truly get to know the other party, warts and all, and this can often lead to significant disillusionment as that charming guy or gal you remember dating turns out to have some annoying habits — or that “dream company” or “dream boss” you remember from the interview turns out to not live up to the hype.

While this pattern is probably just another inevitable fact of life, given the way all of us tend to sweep our vulnerabilities under the rug as we approach new relationships, every once in a blue moon a company and candidate find a way to bypass some of the artificiality and engage in a frank, meaningful dialogue around their authentic needs.  Consider this recent note I received from a client who recently landed an exciting new position in the retail marketing planning field:

“I like the job because I get to run the show.  I get the take the reins and put my marketing ideas to work, plus, I had an excellent connection with my boss during the interview process.  He is a deep thinker, with a big heart and lots of motivation.  I was honest and asked that he be prepared to provide a pat on the back when I earn it, which he obliged happily.  We will make a good team!”

While the dynamic this message illustrates is subtle, when I read it I was immediately struck by the deep level of trust, sharing, and candor that appears to have unfolded during the hiring conversation between these two parties.  The fact that the candidate, my client, divulged her need (which has been chronically unmet throughout her career) to feel acknowledged and appreciated for her efforts — and that her future boss respected this disclosure and agreed to support it — speaks volumes about the potential of this new relationship to succeed.  And my instincts tell me this “work marriage” will be a lasting one!


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