Neil Clark Warren founded eHarmony on August 22, 2000.
Since eHarmony has had success with pairing partners for romantic relationships, the company decided earlier this week it would carry over its learnings to the career space, matching employers with prospective employees to help people find their perfect jobs.
After three years of research, eHarmony is getting ready to launch Elevated Careers this December. The goal is to help people find a fulfilling and meaningful job that lasts longer than the national average of 4.6 years.
In light of this announcement, we spoke with Neil Clark Warren, the CEO of eHarmony, to learn more about the new jobs service and the idea of matching in general. Here is our lightly edited conversation.
Business Insider: Why did you decide to expand into the careers space?
Neil Clark Warren: We decided to turn this company back into a relationship company. So we had the core product — we’ve had 600,000 marriages now and our divorce rate over a 7-year period is only 3.8 percent. We’ve done really well with matching people for long-term relationships. We think no one has done as much matching of personalities as we have, and we have very specific ideas about how we can be a successful participant in [the careers] space. We think we can do it better than some of the other companies like Monster and LinkedIn.
BI: Why do you think you’ll be able to do it better than other companies?
NW: Because we have spent way more time thinking about personality fit. We’ve spent way more time thinking about relationships, what is required to make a relationship great. People on eHarmony stay together, have a more satisfying experience, and the divorce rate is way lower than it is for people who meet in virtually any other way. We think we’re better at matching people, we’ve spent more time at it. You don’t find in these other companies anybody who has spent that much time.
BI: What’s your advice for finding a job that’s a good fit?
NW: The first thing that a person needs in order to have a meaningful job experience is he or she needs to feel that the culture of the company in which they’re working is a very good fit with their own sense of cultural idealism. The kind of principles they stand for are the principles the company stands for.
BI: How is eHarmony going to help its users figure that out?
NW: The first thing we do when getting involved with a company is we want a short inventory filled out by every person in the company. Just asking how they perceive the culture of the company. We want that culture to be matched up with the culture of the person who’s the applicant. The second thing we do is we want the org chart of the company, so that if an individual wants to work in a particular part of the company, we want to know what skills are required of the applicant.
But in addition to that, we want to know whether the personality match of the applicant and the person they’re going to report to is a good fit for the company and individual. If we can get the culture, skillset, and personality right, we’re convinced that the typical 4.6 year average duration at a company in America, we’ll be able to take that way up. And that will increase the productivity for the company, and that will certainly increase the experience for the applicant.
BI: What is an example of how a job seeker would be an appropriate match for an employer?
NW: I always say that you can’t have one really bright person reporting to someone who’s not bright or vice versa. You need to have the two persons within one standard deviation of intelligence. Education usually needs to be well-matched.
BI: What are the risks of accepting a poorly-matched job?
NW: My father-in-law graduated from MIT, and the first thing I learned about my wife was she had moved all over the country because her father could never find the right fit with jobs. Part of the reason was that he was in an industry that was changing enormously — electronics. But part of the reason too was interpersonally, he didn’t end up reporting to people who had a similar personality to his. He would get in with companies that had a different cultural orientation than he had. My wife moved 17 times when she was growing up. It was colossally difficult for her.
BI: Have you personally experienced some of these difficulties in your own career?
NW: I’ve been a psychologist for 40 years, but I was not really emotionally a perfect fit for psychology. I taught in graduate school, and then I went into private practice for 30 years, and private practice wears you out. By the time you’re done with the day, you’re just worn thin. I don’t think that was quite career for me, but nobody ever helped me find out what the correct company was for me.
Eventually I founded eHarmony, and that’s the perfect place for me. It has a combination of psychology but also has business. I learned myself that I hadn’t been employed in quite the right career, and I wish somebody had taken the time to deal with the issues for me.
BI: What got you interested in the whole matching business to begin with?
NW: My folks were married for 70 years. My dad was an absolute genius; my mother was a farm girl who probably had an IQ one standard deviation above the mean, my dad was 4.5 deviations above the mean. They never talked, but they treated each other with a lot of respect. I never heard them yell at each other or anything like that, but they weren’t well-matched on intelligence or interests. It was a marriage with duration, but it wasn’t a great duration because they didn’t have personality matching. Nobody had given them one word of advice about the kind of person they should marry.
They sent to me this message, that I should be taller than the girl. That just seems so absurd. The second message was I should be a little older than the girl. And the third was if she wasn’t a member of my religion she should be willing to switch. Those are all superficial. I began to see that length of involvement does not at all mean depth of a meaning and satisfaction.
BI: What do you think about all of the more casual dating apps that are becoming more popular?
NW: I’m sad about it, to tell you the truth, because it doesn’t work. It won’t work over time. These new apps tend to be so superficial. They will allure a lot of people into thinking that they belong together when they perhaps don’t belong together at all. They’re depending on superficial almost accidental compatibility. Compatibility is a serious matter, and it’s very deep and very important to figure out.
These companies that are bringing out these apps, they haven’t done any careful research about what works. They’re just trying to throw something out there that makes money for the company. I wouldn’t put two people together who are not deeply compatible for a billion dollars. As a psychologist, I’ve presided over the funerals of an awful lot of marriages, and I’ve seen people suffer a tremendous amount of pain who went through horrible divorces. You’ve got to have personality — [a] spiritual, intellectual match. It’s an underestimated skill you have to have to find the person you want to be with the rest of your life.
This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
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