If you haven’t heard of FOMO by now, you probably live under a rock at the bottom of the ocean and this article is not for you. Whereas FOMO has been written about extensively to understand behaviors in fields such as financeor sex and romance, surprisingly very little has been said about the fear of missing out on great talent.
For most of us, when we look to hire someone who is (1) competent, (2) interested and (3) available, we are very happy to call it a wrap when we find someone who meets all three criteria. This “first fit hired” approach has the merit of being fast, but it is also very random, quite lazy and it is almost certainly a missed opportunity to upgrade your team. Recruitment professionals will argue that speed is key, that a suitable candidate may not be available by tomorrow … and will thus activate a fear of losing out (FOLO, trademark!), a concept that can be applied to candidates you have already interviewed, but have not offered a position to.
When can I put my FOMO to rest without activating my FOLO? In other words, how many interviews do I need to conduct to optimize my candidate search? This was traditionally known as the secretary problem, (it also goes by the name of the marriage problem, where the question is then rephrased: “how many people should I date before marrying one?”)The best response is usually a mathematical one. You can read all about it on Wikipedia. In summary: if the total number of applicants is “n”, then the optimal strategy consists of eliminating the first (n / 2.718) candidates and then hiring the next candidate you interview who outperforms all the previous ones. Applying this rule, recruiters can expect to identify the single best candidate 37% of the time.
In the age of big data, hiring the best available candidate 37% of the time hardly seems optimal.
Thanks to new recruitment platforms such as 1Page, Hired, HackerRank or TaskRabbit, it has become economically viable for recruiters to consider tens of thousands of candidates in a fraction of the time, thanks to automated testing. This allows them to put the FOMO to rest, while keeping the recruitment cycle extremely short, thus minimizing FOLO. If you can effectively interview thousands of candidates in a day, the secretary problem is officially solved.
Or is it?
While our technology has allowed us to do so much more, old habits die hard. Most recruiters still get away with placing the first suitable candidate too often, using the old arguments:
“We need to operate fast.”
“There is always a better candidate out there if you are willing to extend the search indefinitely.”
Those are just poor excuses for a job half done. It is the recruiters’ responsibility to use the available tools to broaden the talent pool, and consider as many people as possible. They should therefore be measured on the suitability of the candidate, the size of the pool that they considered, and the speed of their execution. Don’t be afraid to tell your recruiters you need three things from them: (1) the right candidate for the job, (2) a comprehensive report to alleviate your recruitment FOMO, and (3) a short recruitment cycle to minimize your FOLO. That should keep them on their toes, fo’ sho!