What Daters Can Teach Employers About Attracting The Right People: Q&A with Nando Rodriguez

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Turns out recruiting is just like looking for love. Dating coach/employer brand expert Nando Rodriguez uncovers the similarities and shares tips to help you attract top talent.

Nando Rodriguez, head of employment branding at Horizon Media and dating coach

Nando Rodriguez is head of employment branding and candidate experience at Horizon Media … and a dating coachWe hopped on a call to uncover dating advice that can also help recruiters and hiring managers woo top talent.

“It’s a numbers game, and all about attraction.”

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How is recruiting like dating?

They’re similar because you’re always on the hunt for the right match. It’s a numbers game and all about attraction. For example, here at Horizon Media we just launched a huge employer campaign with an Adele parody video. People who watch it will either think “oh, that’s not the place I want to work,” or the opposite, ”I want to work there! I need to find out more about them.” We want as many eyes on it as possible. It’s the same thing with dating. Whether you’re on Tinder, Twitter, or Snapchat, you put yourself out there and people start investigating to see if you’re the right match. And the more people see your stuff, your choices increase.

Are there skills that both daters and recruiters need to attract the right people?

It’s your branding that matters. So let’s say you’re just a regular person dating: what types of photos are you posting to Instagram? Is it all selfies? All food? Carefully composed shots, or on-the-fly and badly lit? All of that speaks to who you are, and people will base their opinion of you solely on what you give them. If someone is researching you, trying to know you a little better, but all you have are selfies, bad lighting, bad photos – that’s all they have to go on. They might not be intrigued, and move on to the next thing.

Same with a company. If I’m researching you as an employer and all you have is a Facebook page that talks about you, the awards you won and the clients you have, but doesn’t tell me what will it look like working for you, who my peers will be, who the senior leadership is, or what the culture is like, then I’m going to lose interest and move on to the next employer.

“It’s your branding that matters.”

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Is there any listening advice that you give to daters, but could also apply to recruiters and hiring managers?

On a date, there should be 50/50 split between who’s talking and who’s listening. You should learn about the other person and vice versa. When it comes to a job interview, though, you want to let the applicant do the majority of the talking. You want to hear about their skill set, you want answers to behavioral questions, and you want to hear “between the lines.” What I mean by that is, yes, you want to know if they’re a fit for your company, but you also want to know if you’re a fit for them.

For example, a couple months ago I had an opening on my team for a visual designer. During their interview, one candidate kept asking “If you hire me, when can I quit my job?” I responded, “I’m assuming you would give two weeks notice.” He replied, “No, I can leave in one day.” I began to wonder what the deal was with this person, and I started asking more questions. He became more and more uncomfortable and actually let it slip that he was taking things from his employer and wanted out before getting caught. Of course, it made me question if he would be taking things from our company, too.

In another case, the person I was interviewing kept talking about her interest in sculpture and her interest in sculpting hands. She was extremely qualified for the role, had an amazing portfolio, and would have been super-successful had we worked together. But her heart wasn’t in it. She needed to be somewhere pursuing hand sculptures, which she referenced over eight times in our Skype interview.

It’s by listening between the lines – with a little added common sense – I was able to see that these two candidates weren’t a fit.

What common dating mistakes also afflict recruiters and managers who are courting talent?

Looking for perfection. Daters need to stop looking for that perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, and companies need to stop looking for that perfect employee who fits the role 100 percent. It’s just not gonna happen. It’s a myth that’s out there, the idea of “Mr. Right” or “Ms. Right.” In reality, you just have to put up with the crossed-eyes, the snort when they laugh, or the skill that’s missing but that can be developed.

Another mistake recruiters make but know they shouldn’t – kind of like daters who know they shouldn’t bash their exes on a date, but do anyway – is not talking up the benefits of working at their companies. Maybe it’s because their companies don’t easily lay the perks out for them. Here at Horizon Media, part of my role as Head of Employment Branding is to create content for our recruiters to push out to our applicants. For example, we do a video series called WorkPerks. The videos are 45–50 seconds each, but we use them to highlight why people love working here, who our senior leaders are, and we do it in a fun, cheeky way that stays true to our culture. The series is getting attention; one of our videos is close to 7,000 hits and was only launched a couple months ago.

“Companies need to stop looking for that perfect employee who fits the role 100 percent.”

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Any good pickup lines recruiters should start using with potential candidates?

I would open with “tell me about that next move that you see in your career.” This tells you if the candidate is driven by money, relationship, or a career they can grow in. People want to advance their careers, and that opening line gets people to open up. But, obviously, you wouldn’t use that as a pickup line with a potential date; “what upgrade would you like from your last girlfriend?” [laughs] Recruiting-wise, though, that’s the winning line.

Watch Horizon Media’s Adele parody video and WorkPerks series. Follow Nando on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat @nandoism.

From an interview with Christian De Pape.

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