When this time of year comes around I like to take the opportunity to listen again to one of my favourite TED talks: How I hacked online dating by Amy Webb. In a light-hearted way Amy describes that dreaded moment when you realise you’re almost 30, single and spending Valentine’s day alone.  So you put your PJs on, cry into a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s and start painfully carving out your online dating profile. After hours Googling synonyms for “socialising” you’ve uploaded that flattering picture – you’re ready to start your new life.

Then the dating begins…

Unsuccessful date after unsuccessful date leaves you wondering why your profile is attracting the borderline alcoholics and workaholics. Rather than reaching for the Ben & Jerry’s; Amy crunches the numbers. After each date she completes a feedback questionnaire she designed herself on her prospective suitors with surprising results (particularly about Scotch drinkers!). Her analysis proved she wasn’t “picky” like her friends and family had told her, or that these are bad guys, just that they’re bad for her.  

Using this, Amy devised a plan for identifying the perfect man; however, when she finally found a good match she hadn’t considered one important variable. They weren’t attracted to her. So, Amy conducted some competitor analysis and made some key changes. She produced an updated profile swapping long descriptions for short, snappy, adjective filled answers and uploaded a picture showing a bit of skin. With these slight changes Amy became the owner of the most popular profile on the dating site. This allowed her to speak to men that she believed would be compatible with her – and the choice was overwhelming.

There was only one thing to do. Amy did some more analysis but this time on herself by listing 100 key attributes she was searching for in a man and then weighting them according to whether they were “deal-breakers” or “nice to haves”.  In order for someone to qualify for a date the suitor must achieve a score above 700.

And when this finally happened…the date lasted a lifetime and came with a diamond!

This beautiful story wrapped in data and analysis is one that I’m hooked on. The story of Amy finding her dream man has despair, hope and finally joy, much like finding your dream job. For me, her story has a valuable lesson for the workforce. The time has come when we, as workers, can afford to be “picky” – the war on talent continues. But as we see the statistics year-after-year show that almost 60% of new joiners leave within their first 12 months, we cannot place blame solely on the organisation. Instead, we should look at what attracted us to join in the first place – was it the snappy description of their ‘quirky’ culture? The awards they had won? Or just their profile picture? Just like online dating, the organisation’s ideal profile matched your ideal profile; the “you” that had all the time in the world to pursue your varied interests.

Like Amy, we should be compiling our 100 line list of requirements and “deal breakers” and test them out throughout the recruitment process. Likewise, if we find ourselves rejected by the companies we want to work for, we should be eyeing up the competition – what do their Linkedin profiles say that ours don’t?

Finding our dream partner and dream job this Valentine’s Day won’t be easier than it has been any other year, but we can make sure that we are attracting what we really want before accepting that first date.