The (Not)Dating Game, Part 1

For several years, I toyed with the idea of doing a conference talk comparing job searching to dating. I never really fully fleshed out the ideas and basically let it slide onto a back burner; however, the more I think about it, the more I have determined that the idea is valid but may be best presented in a blog form.

Today, most of the job searches are performed entirely online. Nearly 45% of recent job seekers  have used online resources to perform that search [1]. While the percentage of people meeting their partners online is significantly smaller (~20% [2]), it is still the largest method of meeting a partner.

Look at LinkedIn compared to you average social media and dating website. On both platforms, you build a profile based on your background. You find a suitable picture to make yourself look attractive to those who may search you out. In fact, most of what you put onto your resume (and by extension your or Monster profile) are all built around attracting potential employers.

The similarities are so obvious to some people that someone had the idea to create a Tinder-style app for jobs searching, Switch.

Ultimately, the online dating and job search platforms are subject to the same sets of problems. Users of each are trying their best to make themselves look more attractive to their potential matches. This extends to the point of catfishing [3]. Where an individuals line is for lying to a potential mate versus a potential employer may be up for debate.

Obviously, there are means to avoid the catfish in employment (and in relationships), this is where the first date…oops, I mean, interview comes into play. We’ll get into those in the next part of this series.

Even with the extra steps, the online HR mill is designed to filter out candidates by pre-determined barriers, so it creates an incentive for people to stretch the truth (or blatantly lie) about their background, especially when many employers may never look into their applicant’s or employee’s backgrounds.

Is there a fix for any of the online job search problems? Vetting candidates is hard work, and while I suspect a decade or two ago recruiters did a lot of this work, the job hunt has really be reduced down to a method of seeing as many candidates as quickly as possible and hoping you find something worthwhile. This may result in some good candidates never be seen and definitely results in some horrible candidates occasionally getting hired.

It can be hard for many people to sell themselves, and in many cases, people like that may wind up being the ones who suffer the most in this system.