Job Boards: Is It Really About Compatibility?

Compatibility has long served as the cornerstone of dating services, including the major Web-based matchmaking services. But while at least one of these services is trying to apply the concept toward the business recruitment world in an effort to expand its customer base, a genuine match between the needs of the candidate and the employer requires going beyond algorithms and tech platforms.

An August 2014 MarketWatch article reported on the attempts of online dating giant eHarmony to launch “Elevated Careers by eHarmony,” a company that proposes to align job seekers and employee seekers according to personality traits and preferences. The idea is to ensure that employees end up in jobs they truly want at workplaces in which they feel comfortable. But while this approach might establish a superficial feeling of ease, in the long run it does nothing to guarantee that the best-qualified candidate lands in the right position.

What the Numbers Say

On the surface, at least, it would appear that the U.S. workforce could use more compatibility with their jobs. A survey found that an astonishing 21 percent of workers intend to seek out new employers in 2014; only 59 percent of respondents reported being content in their jobs, and only 54 percent claimed to like their co-workers.

But the survey also included some other illuminating responses that had little or nothing to do with compatibility issues. For example, only 43 percent were satisfied with their salary, while 39 percent were unhappy about their work/life balance and 39 percent felt that they were underemployed. These numbers would indicate that the jobs in question are simply not a good fit for the employees’ needs, regardless of their feelings about the workplace.

Compatibility vs. Needs Matching

SEE ALSO: What ‘Job Matching’ Really Means

Some recruitment industry leaders find these results a strong indicator that filling the needs of both the job seeker and the employer must first, before compatibility comes into play. Without that critical element of the job matching process, it is doubtful whether either the employee or the employer will remain content with the situation for very long. RealMatch CEO Gal Almog notes that unless the job itself engages the employee, provides for the employee’s needs, and makes wise use of the employee’s skill set, the issue of compatibility is largely moot. “It’s important to look at a true job match this way,” explains Almog. “A candidate may qualify for a position, but if the position does not fit a job seeker’s preferences or they are not interested in the job, it isn’t a match. Successful recruitment is about much more than simply matching qualities — it’s also about accurately matching needs.”

This does not discount the value of algorithms in job matching, but it does point out the need to reach beyond simple issues of personal compatibility. Even with modern technological tools, recruiters and hiring companies often spend hours upon hours of time sifting through applicants to first determine if a candidate has all proper experience, background and skills they are looking for before bringing a job seeker in for an interview. The interview itself conveys myriad important details to the interviewer that no algorithm can detect. Body language, facial expressions (including fleeting “micro-expressions”) and tone of voice can all help determine whether the skills, values and experiences listed on a resume hold true in real life, and how the candidate actually feels about joining the team. For instance, the American Psychological Association points out that individuals tend to display more emotion when lying about something important.

For these and many other reasons, skills testing, face-to-face interviews and other techniques can give a far clearer and more reliable picture of a candidates’ future success and job satisfaction than a mere list of likes and dislikes. By ensuring that candidates genuinely have the skills and desire to do the job being offered, employers can look beyond “compatibility” to create mutually beneficial long-term professional relationships.

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