It's 2016 - recruit like it's a first date

It's 2016 - recruit like it's a first date

Last weekend, I saw my neighbour whilst walking into the village. We got chatting about this and that and he said “ooooh, you’re a web designer - we’re looking for one at the council. You should apply for it.”

I explained that I’d seen it and wasn’t interested for various reasons - not being a web designer, money, not really my cup of tea - but said that the biggest annoyance with it was the application form. You can guess sorts of stuff; my career/salary history, why I’d be suitable, two referees etc.

“Yeah, that’s government departments. We’re still stuck in the dark ages.”

After mulling it over, I realised that an awful lot of companies are stuck in the recruitment dark ages - they contact a recruiter, who trawls the job boards or LinkedIn and gets the same 5 candidates who don’t really know the company other than “a fantastic opportunity at an expanding blue chip company” and they go for an interview.

What. Utter. Bollocks.

This is 2016. Recruitment is like dating.

  • you see someone who you like the look of
  • you start chatting and telling each other about you
  • you meet up
  • you start a relationship

When you’re in a romantic relationship, you have both be equal in it. If one dominates the other the relationship will fail. The same is true of a business relationship.

Software engineers are highly skilled and the good ones are in demand. The one’s you ought to be employing are the one’s who could get a job at pretty much any software house in the world. They also won’t put up with arbitrary nonsense in the recruitment process.

I always view the recruitment process (and the dating process before I met my wife) as a precursor to the future - if they’re a nightmare during the wooing phase, how bad are they going to be 6 months in when you’re both comfortable and having a stupid argument about sugar in your tea?

The way to recruit software engineers is simple:

  • find people you’re interested in
  • talk to them and see if you’re a good match for each other
  • be open and honest
  • never try and force a relationship - if you have to force it, it’s probably not right for either
  • try and start off with a “just seeing” phase where you agree you can both walk away with honour intact if it’s not working

Like in a romantic relationship, a working relationship will start off exciting, there will problems and there will be happier times. It may also end in a way that one party never saw coming.

But if you both remember that the employee and employer have an equal duty to make it work, you won’t go far wrong.