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How To Get A Good Date (or a better job)

How To Get A Good Date (or a better job)

Have you ever tried online dating? Or spent hours scouring the internet looking for a new job? Neither is particularly fun. Or, it turns out, particularly efficient.

How We Date Online

In The Upside of Irrationality, Dan Ariely examines the way in which online dating works. It's a fascinating read. And one the recruitment and HR industries could learn from.

To register for an online dating site, you provide some searchable information:

  • Basic Demographics: e.g. age, location, income
  • Personal Data: values, attitudes, lifestyle
  • Other: a short bio and picture

All of this can be and is used to find and contact a possible match. People enter some preferred criteria into a search engine. Press enter. And those that match pop up. The next step is trying to see if any are interested in meeting up.

Dan Ariely illustrates just how disappointing the experience is. He questions the reductionist nature of the process. Can a human be adequately captured through checklists and multiple-choice forms? Are they not more complex than that?

He argues that humans are more complex. They have subjective, aesthetic and ineffable qualities no database could reveal. What does that mean for online dating?

He argues that online dating is a poster-child for market failure. Firstly, the point of dating is to go on a date. And a good one at that. That's the goal. In the online dating world, for every 1.8 hours per week you go on a date, you spend 11.9 hours looking for one.

The bit looking for a date? Nobody enjoys it. That's a 6:1 ratio of pain to gain.

And even then, a large percentage of the dates are exercises in frustration. Your dreams of finding a soulmate dashed over a single, never to be repeated coffee.

How We Should Date Online

Ariely's research then discovered something fascinating. Online daters cared far more about experiential attributes over searchable attributes. Which online dating technology, in its current form, couldn't even begin to measure.

He then initiated some experiments to see if an experiential online environment was possible. His team created an online environment that mirrored the real world of dating. One in which people could watch movies, go to art galleries and drink coffee together.

He created Chat Circles that included the possibility of looking at art, watching movie clips, and browsing shops online. Users could choose a simple avatar and wander around this space. When a user moved close to another user, an instant chat window opened and they could talk. The talk resembled real world conversations about the object they were interacting with.

The results? The virtual dating chat circles made people twice as likely to go on a date together than a standard online search. Making the market more efficient and the activity more fun.

Ariely argues that in the virtual world, people made the kind of judgments about people they were used to in the real world on a day-to-day basis. Picked up on certain tells about the person being the "right one" rather than just someone. The intuitive gut feeling that this is right. Something that can't be measured through searchable data.

Why? And what has this got to do with getting a new job?

If online dating is broken, what does that say for the job market? The 6:1 ratio of online dating is nothing compared to the online job market.

  • We hear of people applying for 100+ roles just for 1 interview. If that doesn't go frustratingly awful thanks to nerves and stress, you can then get rejected via the second level of data analysis, the psychometric test.
  • Recruiters can look through thousands of possibilities to find the one candidate that perfectly matches the client's job specifications. And sometimes can't even find a single possibility.
  • And it's not fun for anybody. Candidates are expected to rewrite CVs so the ATS finds a minimum number of keywords, meaning it then gets read by a human eye rather than auto-rejected.
  • Recruiters keep 100 of tabs open, all running searches in different databases, trying to find the right candidate. Only to find they have nothing better to offer them than the deal they already have.

It's broken. Far more so than online dating. And the way it works is a black box for most candidates.

To fix it, we need ways to intuitively pick jobs, candidates, and companies. Here are some possible directions.

  1. Go to Meet Ups and Hangouts. The free after-work events that enable interesting ideas to be shared amongst peers. You see people relaxing and collaborating in a work-like environment. They might share info about their organisation you won't easily find online. They might seem like your kind of people. For a candidate, you'll get a far better read on whether certain jobs would fit you. For the hirer or recruiter, you'll see exactly how people interact and make decisions on who might best fit the company. You'll also develop a far deeper understanding of the role you are hiring for.
  2. Companies need to be more accepting of the retained recruitment model over the contingency recruitment model. If you have a recruiter out and about at networking events, it is vital he knows the company he's working for inside out. Knows exactly what kind of candidate suits the company. So he knows exactly what clues to look for. It's no longer a numbers game but based on a real and mutually beneficial relationship. Conversations become immediately meaningful. If a retained recruiter talks to someone about a job, it's because he's analysed the person in situ and intuitively feels they'll fit. The initial conversation is natural and stops people being on edge.
  3. We need to create virtual work environments online. Professional environments that are more than searchable databases. In which information and insights about the nature of work can be discussed. And specific problems debated and solved. I know this works in Twitter communities and I know people who've been given jobs in world-leading companies by being actively helpful in such environments. You see they know the answers, are (as Adam Grant puts it) givers, and are potentially passionate and value-producing employees. Other searchable platforms (like LinkedIn) have to work out a way to create valuable virtual spaces and then find a way to have recruiters listen into the content and context of skills-related debate.
  4. We must make job adverts meaningful. They are too much like data-searches. You must have 5 years experience doing x, y and z. You have to have this qualification and this exact skillset. This will not attract god people. It needs to be more aspirational. Phrases such as "you will learn". "you will become" or "we will help you develop". That way, you'll get smart, motivated people wanting to work with you and grow with you.

There will be many other things we can do to fix the situation. But we can't continue having recruiters tied to chairs running thousands of searches, making hundreds of cold calls, and producing reams of staid copy. Just for the occasional introductory cup of coffee and an even rarer interview opportunity. It's a broken model and we're feeding it.


Should We Really Hate Recruiters?
Dear Recruiter, why should I take this job?


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Saturday, 04 July 2020

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The Ironic Manager seriously rethinks how organisations work at the most fundamental level and offers a variety of solutions for businesses struggling to cope with the ambiguity and stresses inherent to contemporary organisational conditions of constant change.

Richard has been helping businesses and people deal with leadership, management, communication, technology and change for over twenty years through his training, coaching, speaking and consulting services. 

His innovative research is highly regarded by world-leaders in management and leadership. 

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Over twenty years helping people managing change understand why resistance happens and develop quality vital communication skills that aid successful business transformation.


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