It's a lot like dating...

It's a lot like dating...

The concept of separating from a firm or company can be emotionally draining and we realised the whole interview process is actually just like the dating game. Search consultants are really professional dating experts, so, here are our top dating tips to ease the process...

It’s a dating game…

As search consultants in the legal profession, we have the pleasure of dealing with some highly intelligent, professional and inspirational individuals in the industry. Our role is to assist them grow their businesses by researching individuals who fit the key criteria highlighted by our clients and approaching them on their behalf. This typically involves presenting an opportunity that they may not have been looking for or suggesting an organisation or firm they had never even contemplated joining.

In some of the recent discussions with senior level lawyers that have been approached, we discovered that many of them struggle emotionally with the concept of separating from their existing working environments and teams. In trying to find an everyday analogy that fits the intricate nature of the separation process, it occurred to us that search consultants are really professional dating experts. There’s no denying the complexity of each stage to the search process but we concluded that following some simple yet delicate ‘dating’ rules will help both partners and firms in finding the perfect match.

Everyone needs a helping hand in a game as complex and multi-faceted as dating and trying to tackle it head first without some well-placed guidance along the way is a recipe for disaster


Stage 1 - The Approach

Many Partners and firms perceive that taking it upon themselves to make the first move is the best way to initiate the first stage in the process. But remember back in the day, when you used to convince your friend to go and chat to the guy or girl at the end of the bar to spare some potential blushes and uncomfortable moments? Well, we’re that friend.

Get that initial approach wrong and it’s unlikely you’ll get a second chance! It’s hard hearing a no and even harder delivering the fatal blow. This is where a wingman can earn his stripes by entering the fray to avoid the toe-curlingly awkward embarrassment that can come with taking the direct approach. Direct approaches can work if you have a mutual connection, but if not- it can be an intensely awkward experience for both parties and you know what? You’ll never know why they said no, or why they said yes – that makes navigating the next stages a real gamble.


Stage 2 - The Courting

Selling yourself can be an impossible exercise. How do you go about painting yourself as the ‘dream catch’ without blowing your own trumpet? The all-important ‘Why me?’ question! It’s a daunting task. Your wingman however, as a third party, is well in his rights to state just how irresistible you are as an individual. A half-hearted pitch will likely fall on deaf ears, so a powerfully delivered tribute to your brilliance by someone who knows your inside leg measurement is required from a friend that you trust to sell your virtuous qualities.

They have independently talked about how popular you are and how dating you would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, whilst you stand idly in the background pretending to be ignorant of the whole situation. The wheels are in motion. The target is engaged!


Stage 3 - The 1st Meeting

Ok, so this is where you need to put your game face on, engage and build trust quickly. Naturally at this point your mind is racing, filled with the excitement of what could be. It’s time to listen to the prep advice provided by your friend who has taken extensive mental notes, understanding which of your countless virtues and attributes you should emphasise, and which stories are likely to resonate knowing a bit about what your date is all about.  

Go alone or take a group!? Would you realistically take a mate with you on your first date and hope to really connect? Probably not. This is a typical stumbling block for Partners who attend the first meeting as a group of 2 or 3 and predictably struggle to build a real sense of connection or rapport. Don’t forget, the person you’re interested in is already dating and connected elsewhere, so an intimate and memorable first impression is essential.


 Stage 4 - The Feedback

In your books, the date went better than you could have hoped for and you’re understandably excited. However, the seed of doubt can distort reality in the heads of even the most experienced daters. Who’s to say the feelings are mutual? You don’t want to tell each other you’re excited directly because this puts both in a vulnerable position and again communicating directly if it didn’t go well, can be just…. awkward!!

Some form of feedback can go a long way toward remedying any misgivings you might have – both parties need to make decisions based on correct information. Once again, your friend’s ability to communicate exactly how excited you both are about the prospect of this relationship developing to the next stage can create the perfect foundation for things to really kick off.


Stage 5 - More Dates

The preliminary mountain has been scaled and it’s now ok to introduce other friends and family members- you need to see what they think of your date, how they would fit into your world whilst equally ensuring you still get the final say. The opinion of your friends should never define the shelf life of your relationship, but there is no denying that it can influence your decision.

Remember you’re constantly on show and need to put your best foot forward – don’t have too many drinks and don’t bring your awkward quirky friends! Picking the right people who represent what you’re all about and how you have become what you are is so important. Essentially you need them to reflect brilliantly on you and hopefully your date approves of the company you keep.


Stage 6 - In or Out

It’s decision making time. They tick all the boxes, you’re both struggling to see a flaw (or the ones you see, you know you can put up with!) and you’re ready to take the plunge. But just because you’re prepared to make it official, doesn’t mean they are. Timing is critical, and a deft touch can make or break the deal. Unreasonable haste can be a direct road to ruin, so don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

A premature advance or offer of commitment could scare them off or raise suspicions that it’s all too easy and therefore can’t be as good as their current situation. Don’t rush this, time will work its magic, so be patient.


Stage 7 - Gesture of Commitment

Get it right. Don’t make a half offer. If they are currently sporting a diamond encrusted rock from Tiffany’s and you can afford to splash out, don’t undervalue them by shopping at Argos! They may not show their disappointment but remember if you’re competing with another suitor, this gesture could be the deciding factor. If the offer is too low, you might just end up losing ground on your competition.

This is where you friend’s investigation skills can come in handy again. The inside knowledge they possess can be the perfect tool to expose your date’s expectations, giving you the upper hand in negotiations.  If they are unhappy with their current partner, you may not need to make a big gesture but the happier they are, the higher the stakes may get (within reason!)


Stage 8 - Support

If you have followed each step closely you should have both found your perfect match with the prospect of a strong and prosperous future binding you together. But they now need to separate from their existing partner which can be an emotionally taxing and guilt-ridden affair for all involved.

It is important that you display your tactile nature and sensitivity as they won’t be ready to celebrate until they have separated completely from their existing partner. They are a catch for a reason so don’t be surprised if their ex fights tooth and nail to hold on. That advice from your best friend to avoid Argos at all costs, and to keep reminding them of why they are doing this, may just be what saves your blossoming relationship.


Stage 9 - Celebrating

It’s a tough transitional period that won’t be easy. Be with them every step of the way – this is where your best mate can start to really take more of a background role. Once you are over the hump it’s time to take them out and celebrate with your friends and family to help them forget about the past and start thinking about your partnership together.

If you’re wanting them to bring their contacts and network to the table quickly, you need to help them make the mental shift and understand that their long-term future and loyalty lies with you. In the dating game it’s important never to look back over your shoulder and build toward the future.


Hopefully you live happily ever after and you don’t give them any cause or reason to have their head turned by someone else’s best mate!


...In our next segment, we will be analysing the dating game from the candidate/date's perspective