C-Suite Lifestyle

You Don’t Go To School To Be A Matchmaker

How to hire the right team for your niche business. Resumes just don’t do it when you’re building a team of matchmakers.

Even though millions of Americans turn to matchmakers every year to find love, not many realize matchmaking is, in fact, a career. And it’s certainly not a discipline that colleges offer a degree in. That means building a team in my industry takes a different sensibility and approach. While resumes rarely capture my attention, a good conversation with a new acquaintance does. In fact, I’ve met some of our best matchmakers and company leaders while waiting for elevators, out shopping for shoes, at nonprofit events and more.

Social distancing means I may not be bumping into new hires in-person right now, but it hasn’t changed my overall approach to seeking out the people who can help our clients find love. Over my 20 years in matchmaking, I’ve embraced a few key recruiting philosophies that can help leaders in any kind of niche or unique business build the team they need to succeed. These include:

Pro tip 1: Go beyond the resume and the conference room

Resumes certainly tell you something about a candidate, but they don’t tell the whole story. I’m a prime example – I started in public relations, moved to executive recruiting and ended up founding a matchmaking firm. In my case, and in so many others, success comes from the critical soft skills that you cannot always teach a candidate.

That is why I love meeting prospective employees in very natural settings; I can get a better read of the skills our team needs to have to succeed. Without the pressure of a formal interview, I’m able to realistically assess the person’s interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and creative thinking – three factors that figure strongly into their potential for success with our clients.

Pro tip 2: Look for complementary skills

While our team may share some core qualities, each also brings a unique skill set or perspective to the business, which makes us a stronger team. We have employees who spent years in the non-profit world and others who worked in advertising before joining our team. In turn, each has brought a different skill to the company, which has helped us learn and grow.

As a business, you never want to stop learning or bringing in new people who can generate great ideas or offer a unique point of view. These varied backgrounds also mean that our team can relate to clients on different levels. “Our clients run the gamut – from high-level executives who simply don’t have time to find a match on their own to people who are looking for specific shared beliefs,” said Alina Mayes, matchmaker at Selective Search. “This is the nature of our business, to be able to connect with the client on a psychological level to help determine who is right for them and serve as a ‘third-party’ in this love process.”

Pro tip 3: Trust your gut

We’ve all been there. You find an amazing candidate who looks great on paper, you bring him or her in for an interview, and the conversation is… ok. So, should you hire this person or not? Based on their track record, your answer is a resounding yes – but there is that nagging feeling that something is not quite right. I say go with your gut. If you want to build a team of all star performers, you need to have confidence in every aspect of that person. Will this person connect with our clients? Is this person hungry to keep learning? Will this person mesh with our team? Make that list of non-negotiable qualities you want in members of your team. This approach will help you build a team that can truly move your business forward.

Not every leader will meet that next great hire in an elevator. But every leader can commit to going beyond the resume, to developing a more thoughtful hiring process. It may be a process of trial and error, by taking a more personal, custom approach to finding top talent, but it is worth it when you are running a niche business.


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Barbie Adler
Barbie Adler, founder and president of Selective Search, an executive-matchmaking firm. Her clientele includes the country's top entrepreneurs, business leaders and celebrities. Barbie Adler is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.