What’s Love Got To Do With It?

heartsYesterday morning I was reminded of Tina Turner and her rockin’ rendition of What’s Love Got to Do With It.  What brought on my “Tina thinking” was a conversation with a very friendly woman I met at a  technology marketing forum.

During the networking time, the woman introduced herself as a marketing director for a local B2C software company.  When I told her what I did, she immediately commented that maybe her company could use my help.

“You see,” she said, “I’ve been looking for a digital marketing managerfor six months.”  “Wow,” I said, “That’s a long time.  What’s been happening with your search?” “Well, I’ve seen quite a few people – probably about eight good candidates.  But, I just haven’t fallen in love yet.”  “Well then, there’s your problem.  Remember, you’re not getting married.  You’re hiring.

With a bit of a stunned look on her face, she quickly realized she needed another cup of coffee, turned on her heel and walked away.  I felt badly.  I didn’t mean to insult her, but I couldn’t help but blurt out the truth. (I hate it when that happens!)


I hear this more often than I like to–hiring managers who think they have to “fall in love” (or some other similar metaphor) with a candidate before hiring him. Not only are they judging a candidate on  technical merits, they’re actually waiting for some kind of a strong visceral feeling, much like the love feeling, that will tell them this is the right person for the job.

But, on the way to finding this visceral love-like feeling, they pass up very good, qualified candidates.  That’s a risky strategy in any hiring market, let alone one that is as short on candidates as this one.


Here are two big factors to consider when insisting on a love-match when hiring:

  • FALLING OUT OF LOVE – As quickly as you fell in love with your candidate, you may also fall out of love when your new employee disappoints in any way (and, most assuredly, he will, sooner or later).  Unlike the marriage commitment, however, it’s a lot easier (and cheaper) to ditch this relationship and you’ll be hiring again in short order, and the cycle starts again.
  • CUTTING YOURSELF OFF – More importantly, by insisting on a “love match,” you cut yourself off from other candidates who are qualified for your job and would fit very nicely on your team. Two of my best friends were originally professional acquaintances of mine.  In both instances, when we started working together, it was like oil and water.  I’m not kidding!  After a few weeks, things got much, much better.  We found our “groove,” so to speak, and that was the start of a great working and personal relationship.

So, instead of searching for love, why not search for “like?”  It’s less stressful and you’ll have more fun.


Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying you should hire people you clearly don’t like, for any reason.  I do believe a candidate should “click” with you at a certain level – just not at the level of “love.”  It should be more at the level of “serious like.”   I’ve always felt, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being antipathy and 10 being love), you should land somewhere between a 5 and 8 in your emotions for your new employee.


So, trust me on this, save your love for your valentine.  Save your love for your wife, husband, mother, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog, cat, best pal – whomever.  Keep “like-ability” factored into your hiring. Try to be more objective in your assessment of candidates. Reconsider some of those who didn’t “blow you away” the first time in a new light.  You may just have your next stellar employee in that “maybe” pile.

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