First off, let me say that I think dating sucks.
Let me say it again, but with a slight different angle: dating today sucks. For those of you who are happily married, please stop saying to your single friends, “Some day, you’ll find ‘the right one!’” It pisses us off because we know you haven’t had to score a first date in so long that you probably don’t even remember what it’s like. Let me paint a picture for you:
In the school library, a girl is studying on a computer, when all of a sudden, a message pops up on her screen: “Would you like to talk?” Thinking that it’s a prankster friend, she sends back a note that she is studying, and to stop bugging her. Another message pops up on the screen, indicating a desire to talk. The girl asks who the person is who is sending the messages, and a head shot image comes up on the screen. She stands up, and she sees the boy sending the messages stand up also. They lock eyes, and the rest is history.
Okay, anyone who is a Molly Ringwald or an Andrew McCarthy fan knows that this is a scene from Pretty In Pink. Though, this may have fooled you because this is kind of what dating is like today. Except that it’s not 1985. Shoulder pads and floral patterns are not all the latest rage. And we do not waltz into prom to the sounds of OMD, gaze across the room to see our lost love, and end the story with an incredibly romantic kiss. Newsflash: dating today doesn’t work like that.
Here’s how dating today works — everyone “hates the bar scene,” so we turn to online resources like Match.com, Chemistry.com, Plentyoffish.com, or eHarmony.com. We put together profiles and try to make ourselves sound interesting, but not conceited. Attractive, but not narcissistic. Available, but not desperate. This is accomplished by men with such phrases as “I’m a laid-back guy,” “I’m down to earth,” or “I’d like to find a fun girl to hang out with.” By women, it is accomplished with phrases like “I do enjoy outdoor activities sometimes!” or “I am drama-free.”
Any singles out there see these trite phrases on the profiles you browse? My personal translations for these…
- Men: saying you are “laid-back” means you are a lazy bum; saying you are “down to earth” means you can’t make a decision to save your life; saying you want a fun girl to hang out with means you want all the “fun” of a relationship with none of the “commitment.” (Also, once we turn 18, we are no longer girls; we are women.)
- Women: saying that you occasionally enjoy outdoor activities means that you like tanning; saying that you are drama-free means that you probably have plenty of it but you just choose to stick your fingers in your ears and pretend it doesn’t exist, which means you can’t handle conflict very well.
Add to all of this the “cut-and-pasters” who will feign interest in you by sending something they’ve copied and pasted to a dozen or so people who might seem somewhat interesting. Actual example of this:
I really enjoyed reading your profile and thought I would send you a quick note. It looks like we have quite a bit in common and are searching for a lot of the same things…
So. Compelling. I feel totally special and unique receiving a message like this. NOT. Upon further investigation, the individual who sent this to me was not in my listed age range, not in my listed height range, and he was a smoker (gross!). All things that I indicated were deal-breakers for my particular search.
So, I reiterate: dating today sucks. But I digress…
Let’s circle this back to sourcing — because there are strong similarities here. If I may demonstrate:
- Re-visit the “bar scene.” So many sourcers today rely solely on online resources. Present company included, for a good chunk of my career. You’re getting only a small percentage of the talent pool by ignoring the talent “bar scene” which consists of attending networking events, getting introduced through mutual acquaintances (which means actually connecting with your existing network), and other forms of actual human contact. When it comes to dating, this could just look like participating in activities you enjoy — chances are, you’ll meet interesting people who enjoy similar hobbies and activities. And isn’t that what we’re all after when looking for love — someone to enjoy life with?
- Please stop with the “template communication.” This generally shows potential candidates that you are unoriginal, and the perception is that you didn’t take the time to learn anything unique about them. If you use a template, build into it the opportunity to share something from that potential candidate’s profile that stuck out to you, or something neat you learned about them. Talking to people about them, not you, is the surest way to endear them to you. Our favorite topic is ourself, and we tend to gravitate toward people who show genuine interest in us.
- Pay attention to the requirements. In sourcing, often “requirements” given to us by our recruiting counterparts or the hiring managers themselves are viewed by us simply as “guidelines.” It’s worth noting here that if we view them as such, perhaps we should have done a better job of qualifying the “requirements” in the first place. With that in mind, if we have a requirement that is a must-have and we bring to the table a candidate who doesn’t possess that requirement, it makes us look foolish and like we did not pay attention during the in-take. We can try to sell and justify all we want, but if we did a good job at establishing off the bat what the must-haves are, we cannot ignore them simply because “this-or-that compensates for lack of that-or-this.” For me, smoking is a deal-breaker. If you come at me with “I’m trying to quit,” that’s awesome and I applaud you for that; get back with me when you’ve achieved quitting. It’s simply a non-negotiable for me.
- Respond — even if it’s to say “No, thanks.” Candidates complain constantly about this: they receive an initial outreach from a sourcer, they respond, and then they never hear back. From the job-seeker standpoint, this tarnishes the image of the company that is represented. Or, a potential candidate makes first contact with you, and since you have nothing at the moment or they’re not a fit, they’re filed away into a can’t-help folder and not responded to. ANY response is better than no response. In dating, this is the agonizing period of time from when the first date ends to if/when the phone call comes. If the date ends and you know there will be no second date, it shouldn’t be ended with an “I’ll call you.” That sets the wrong expectation. If “I’ll call you” is said, a phone call should be made, and soon. If the date ends in limbo, as most do these days due to the “laid-back, down to earth” man and the “drama-free” woman, neither of whom wish to even commit to a second date, communication should happen even if it’s just to say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Candidates deserve closure of this kind as well. As a job-seeker, there is nothing worse than knowing nothing about where you stand. Either let them know there is a next step, or put them out of their misery.
In full disclosure, the examples I’ve provided are all from firsthand experience. I’m currently trying to figure out how to make dating not suck for myself. I’m trying both on- and offline methods. So far, I haven’t had much luck. But I’m doing my best to take what I know from my own sourcing best practices and apply it to dating. So — wish me luck in finding Mr. Right, and may applying my dating principles to your sourcing practices help you and your candidates find a match made in heaven!