Recruiting and Talent Acquisition- What’s love got to do with it?

Happy Valentines Day – says the loved-up optimist. Happy Commercial Love Day – says the pessimist. Today, the 14th of February allows reflecting on the meaning of love, the symbolism attached to this (special) day, and the role of love in everyday practices.

I have been fascinated by the power of the 14th of Feb and the way it shapes perceptions of love since my time working at Woolworths. I was amused by the degree of decision-making invested into selecting the “right” rose. The “right” amount of roses. And the “right” colour of the rose. We have only just started dating, (mostly) guys would ask, so should I buy red or yellow roses? Will she deduce that I “love”, rather than “like” her? Is one rose enough? Alternatively, do I need more roses to show just how much they mean to me? Today, more than most other days, love is expressed via roses, whatever their colour and number.

So let’s talk about love…oh and talent management…and more specifically, talent acquisition. What’s love got to do with it, you ask?

Well, maybe the notion of “matchmaking”, rather than “love” more effectively describes the potential relationship, but it is Valentine’s Day after all. However, my original talk on this topic used the above notion (aspects of which are repeated below).

Matchmaking“. It is a term we associate with locating our one and only partner with whom we will share all of life’s ups and downs, but that makes it a pretty fair analogy for recruitment and selection. Moreover, when talking to executives and teaching students, I find boiling down vast conversations about traditional recruitment and selection, and getting to more targeted talent acquisition is more effective when equated to personal experiences about trying to find “the one”. This is particularly pertinent today, as I spend my Valentine’s Day, with my talent management MBA students, rather than my personal “match” (aka husband).

Talking about aspects of talent management in this way transcends many boundaries and facilitates productive discussion about operational and strategic needs – often (though, of course, not always) taking some of the office politics out of the equation along the way.

Recruitment and talent acquisition is about matching. I commonly describe talent attraction, recruitment and selection as matchmaking. Matching an individual to the right job at the right time in the right organisation with the right team and the right boss.

Recruitment, selection and talent acquisition are not only about the right people, the right place, the right time – for an individual to succeed, it is also about the right team and the right boss. So in reality, recruitment and selection really are about matchmaking – if the individual succeeds, the employer wins too.

Of course, to stretch the analogy a bit further, don’t forget “opposites attract” – a good fit is not only about personality characteristics that you “like” in an individual, or a boss cloning themselves, to feel comfortable with a person who is just like them. Picking someone who genuinely shares operational and strategic values may positively influence outcomes more than subjectively perceived likability; diversity can strengthen a team by the richness of experiences that it brings in, and from which all can learn.

So… who’s your perfect match? And who do you want to love (at work)?

Today is a great day to discuss with colleagues whether the analogy of matchmaking (and love) reflects personal and organisational perspectives of the desired outcome of recruitment and talent acquisition. What’s love – if anything – got to do with it?

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