What Tinder can teach you about recruitment

How to make sure top talent swipes right on your business.

by Chris Dyer
Last Updated: 20 Feb 2020

Recruitment is much like dating: you won’t find the right person if you don’t put yourself out there. But that’s only half the battle. How will we find the right person? Will they be attracted to us? How do we make a good first impression?

Just as in dating, getting hiring right can save us a lot of time, money and possibly heartbreak.  

To rethink our hiring protocols, let’s look to the online dating tool Tinder. 

It’s an apt metaphor given what usually goes on in HR departments, which is akin to walking down the street and asking strangers on a date - but without the help of selfies and swipes.

The old model is far too hit-or-miss to serve us well in the current hectic labour market. Like folks looking to meet someone to love, we can use tools to make our searches easier.

Who’s looking?

You can’t find the right person if you don’t ‘put yourself out there’, but that only works if you’re looking in the right place - one inhabited by people actively tracking new job opportunities or seeking a position right now. 

Flirting is fun, but serious inquiries are where real connections are made. Tinder’s statistics reinforce the low returns we’ll get if our potential dates are “just looking.” 

To cut through today’s competition, we should reach out most often to those who are ready to make a job change. This may mean hosting job fairs, canvassing graduate ranks, or finding ways to connect with promising employees who are simply not engaged in their present roles. 

This last group is huge about 65 percent of the work force, according to Gallup. We might meet them in break-out sessions at conferences or learn of their disaffection at online sites like Glassdoor.

That’s not to say that it’s not valuable to cultivate interest from employees who are merely open to new opportunities. The right incentives, like a dynamic photo and bio, can prompt even casual Tinder users to take a chance. It’s good for HR departments to keep the fire burning by appealing to the broader talent pool too.

How sexy is your brand?

A company brand is like a Tinder photo. It gives strangers a first impression that will either attract them or turn them off. Tinder statistics show that users who post more than one photo plus a decent bio will get more likes and matches than those who don’t.

Consider all the entry points to your brand - advertisements, professional contacts, your website. All work together to attract both customers and qualified job candidates. 

Those searching for jobs will do their homework to get an informed opinion of your organisation. If the brand you project doesn’t excite them, you won’t get a like, much less a message or a date.

Keep your recruitment brand in mind with every marketing and communications decision you make. Consider what kind of people you are trying to attract and use the type of lures that will do so: transparent operations, supportive management, and plenty of training opportunities. Note which of these are effective and add evidence of them to your brand outreach.

Are they really 'the one'?

Tinder claims its app offers the chance to “meet people you wouldn’t normally meet.” This brings together like-minded singles as well as opposites who attract. The latter group may hold more promise for dynamic relationships, especially in a work setting. That’s because people with different backgrounds and thinking styles challenge and excite us, and even complement our strengths and weaknesses.

We should be taking advantage of this in our hiring. A diverse staff brings broader insights to a business. It can boost innovation and help us connect with customers from different demographics. It’s also a boon to company culture. So you should cast a wide net in talent searches, perhaps establishing benchmarks for diversity in hiring standards.

Finally, if we want to attract great people, we must offer to surround them with great people. Like the best companies, we shouldn’t put up with toxic employees, poor managers or bad fits. Let them go. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

That’s what recruitment - and dating - are all about. Your staff is an integral part of your brand and company culture. The hiring choices you’ve made will be evident to candidates considering a role with you. Once they ‘swipe right’, it’s your people who will make it a match.

Chris Dyer is a leadership speaker, CEO of PeopleG2 and author of The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018)

Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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