When the Online Dating Mentality Infects HR
I’ve been noticing something lately: there’s an uncanny resemblance growing between the world of online dating and the modern job market and hiring process.
The similarities start with the fact that both dynamics involve researching and evaluating potential candidates in order to determine if they are a good fit for the role. On dating apps, users will look through potential matches based on their interests, personality, and other criteria, usually physical appearance. Similarly, employers will use resumes and interviews to determine if a candidate is the right fit for the job. This screening process means that it is important for both online daters and job seekers to make sure that their profiles and resumes are well-crafted and present them in the best light possible–and these days the similarities between online dating profiles and resumes have never been more pronounced.
But the resemblance goes beyond the superficial workings of the dating and hiring marketplaces. It stems from deeper cultural and psychological changes that are migrating from our social relationships and impacting our professional ones, influencing the behavior of both job seekers as well as HR personnel and hiring firms. That’s right: the online dating mentality has come to the job market, and its potential impact is disturbing.
Let’s start with the screening of job applicants, a process now largely delegated to AI and computer programs. According to one study, 75 percent of all resumes are never seen by a real human being. Just like your average dating app user, a job applicant now is basically being told by their potential suitor: “I’m checking these boxes before I’ll even talk to you.” It’s a screening process that—like the one in online dating—might be seen by some as more efficient, but that also ultimately misses out on a huge number of good prospects. Just as we leave scores of potentially good matches on the table when we stop meeting people in person organically, we also cast aside countless good employees when we don’t take the time to review their resumes and potential fit.
As a result, job applicants don’t feel especially valued and they therefore don’t value loyalty to employers in return. The transience of online relationships has thus also moved into the employment arena. Today’s job seekers act like job “players,” pursuing multiple opportunities, employers, and careers while shirking commitment or attachment. This is a phenomenon especially prominent among younger people, the ones who have grown up in the fly-by-night world of online dating. The average millennial will stay at their job for only 2.75 years, and 21% of millennials surveyed by Gallup reported changing jobs within the past year, only 29% felt engaged at work. Gen Zers aren’t really any different: 65% said in one 2022 survey that they would leave their jobs by the end of the year.
We are creating a generation of opportunists, both when it comes to dating and the workforce. People who aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to make a relationship or a job work. A generation of indifferent and unmotivated workers who are just putting in the hours before they leave to do the same thing someplace else. Such a dynamic makes it even harder to find the right partner or the ideal employee.