Home Corporate Culture eHarmony in the recruiting business? Really?

eHarmony in the recruiting business? Really?

An article in the September 16, 2013 issue of Time magazine noted that eHarmony, the dating service, will begin offering a job-recruiting service sometime in 2014.  Seriously??

Apparently so.

Not only that, but the article goes on to say that in addition to eHarmony, there are a bunch of startups who hope to use matchmaking algorithms to help pair up jobseekers with appropriate employers.  Is this crazy?  Maybe not, but one thing’s for sure . . . there is a part of our hiring process that deserves much more attention than it usually gets.  For more on this, please read below.

Think about it.  According to the Time article, “Though the weak job market has lowered churn, as recently as 2007 about 3 million workers were voluntarily leaving their jobs each month.  Today, fully 70% are said to be dissatisfied in their jobs.”  Three million workers bailing out per month?  Seventy per cent dissatisfied?  That’s a lot of unhappy campers!  And that churn, says the Time story, fuels a $400 billion global recruiting industry.  While that’s a big number, it’s not necessarily all that surprising.  It’s no secret that filling a job is an expensive proposition.  So if we can find ways to reduce churn, there’s a lot of money on the table to be saved.

For me, the key line in the Time story was, “soft skills and ‘cultural fit’ can be better predictors of a good hire than education and experience.”  But there’s the rub for the would-be technologist matchmakers.  They admit they’re having a tough time reducing a company’s culture to an algorithm.  And they worry about sub-cultures within the same company.  Is the “culture” the same in the accounting department as it is in the sales department?  And what about senior managers?  Do they exert more influence on a company’s culture than the rank-and-file?  Long story short, there are a lot of variables and moving parts here, so don’t look for matchmaking technology to be available at Best Buy anytime soon.

The real story here is not that matchmaking companies want to enter the recruitment market, it’s that their focus in trying to do so is squarely on personality traits and characteristics of the jobseeker, and personality traits and characteristics (culture) of the hiring company.  Those will play a much larger role in a good hire than will having attended the “right” school and having gained the “right” experience.  Not that those things are unimportant, it’s just that they are poor predictors of a good hire.

So for the time being, we’re stuck with the tools we have to uncover the secrets of cultural “fit.”
•    Thoughtfully identify the traits, characteristics, and values that make up your culture.
•    Carefully craft interview questions that will expose the traits, characteristics, and values you’re looking for.
•    Think about using a personality profile instrument.  There are a lot of them available, and while none are perfect, they may point to some areas you want to explore in an interview.

Crude as they are (compared to an elegant algorithm), those are the tools we have to work with.  Use them wisely or you will end up leaving a lot of money on the table.

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