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Why hiring staff is like dating – are you failing in your search for the perfect person?

I have recently been helping a friend write her internet dating profile. My involvement was as ‘sense checker’.

Like seeking a partner, replacing staff can we be rife with the same obstacles and landmines.

Before you start writing your job spec (or dating profile), get the facts.

Exit interviews, like break ups, can be an emotional affair. But in order to form healthy relationships in the future, it is vital that you are completely clear on all the reasons that person is leaving you. Avoiding these questions will only lead to later heartache.

NB: If you have seen High Fidelity, you are the John Cusack in this situation – if you haven’t it’s on Netflix and it's a classic!

Exit interviews are one of the many reasons you should love your HR team, they will be equipped and trained to dig down and get the hard facts.

If you do not have an HR team. The separation is too raw. The meeting is likely to become full of platitudes or animosity and no facts. Then hire yourself an HR consultant.

Otherwise, if all has ended amicably then make sure that your good relationship does not overshadow what you need to know.

You ex has made a difficult decision. They have weighed it up, over and over again and will therefore have some invaluable information. It will improve things for the future and enable you to find the right person.

Ask for honesty. Most people will naturally avoid any subject that they feel may offend and therefore will stick to the old favourites.

‘it wasn’t you, it’s me’ – in part, it was you. What you additionally need to know is:

What do they need?

In what ways could that have been achieved?

How would they see overcoming that for future or current employees?

How could you have better supported them in achieving their goals?

Would they recommend working for your company to a friend?

If no, why not?

‘I met someone else’ - People move on; on average they stay in their jobs for 5 years or less. There are still questions to be asked.

How did they find their new role?

If they were actively looking, why?

Is there anything that changed in the company that forced their decision?

If they were approached, what were the key things that they have been offered that made them move jobs?

Hopefully the exit interview will be enough to avoid most of the following, however if that meeting failed to deliver any answers then a few things to avoid and consider:

The rebound relationship

The loss of a person may leave a considerable hole in your business. It is likely they were on a one month notice and therefore the clock is ticking to find their replacement.

What to consider:

Finding the ideal person in a month will be tricky. Don’t hire in haste. Immediately look at both contract and permanent solutions. You will ideally find your permanent employee in the time but be aware that you need a Plan B, the perfect contractor.

The best-friend ex:

When you are replacing someone that played an integral role within the team it’s easy to base your requirements purely on their personal attributes and skill set.

Equally there is someone in every company that is perceived to be the antithesis of the company and culture.

What to consider

Did they come as the full package or was it the opportunities and projects that they were exposed to that made them such a superstar.

If you still have it, it’s worth looking back on their CV when they joined. How much has their time in the company formed them.

That relationship has ended. There was a reason why it did. They felt it was time to move on. Eg: If they left as they had reached their ceiling then to replace them with a clone would lead too a much higher probability that you will be looking again in no time.

Mr(s) Perfect:

Back to my friend’s dating profile ; Having endured countless arranged dates, she has a VERY clear idea of what she is looking for.

Most of the attributes are what you would hope for from any human: compassionate, supportive, emotionally aware etc however the longer the day went on the longer the list became. By the end of it we had his exact hair and eye colour, height, knew where he lived and what their kids would be called

What to consider

Back to your spec: Does this person exist? If they have the enthusiasm, the right attitude and training could you mould someone into the perfect fit?

The bad break-up

It’s been a painful, expensive, emotional, unsettling but educational departure.

What to consider

Treat yourself and the people affected by the departure and get over it! Remember the pre-bad break up situation, and appreciate your team. Don’t approach your search or interviews expecting to be disappointed, if you look for the negatives you will scare future employees away.

Final point to consider: Remember recruiting is not entirely like dating, or else we'd just be hiring people with the nicest 'assets'! Well, that was the helpful input from my husband anyway...

I’m sure we will come back to this in the future in the meantime, happy recruiting and dating peeps.

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