working women

Can Match-Making Work for Marriage, Career and Mentorship?

Internet dating has become so mainstream and in some cases — fun — that most of us have a pretty good idea of what its like even if you haven’t personally done it.  I’ve certainly lived vicariously through enough digitally-initiated date stories and profile views that I find it unsurprising that a dating site like eHarmony is trying to diversify into the job market.  The company recently announced it’ll launch a match-making service between employers and employees later this year.  The idea is that employers struggling with high-turnover and who are looking for long-term commitment can be algorithmically matched with compatible candidates who are in it for the long haul.  In short, eHarmony is basically betting that its success in the marriage department can be replicated in the job market.

This makes sense to me, though I don’t think a matching algorithm can be no more than an initial conversation-starter and meeting catalyst.  After all, two people will only get together for a chat and maybe eventually meet if they — not a formula — both decide they might be interested in each other.

Fairygodboss will also offer a “matching” service to connect members of our community who need advice with those that might have some insight to share.  We’re doing this because a lot of professionals we’ve spoken to cite “mentorship” as a barrier to advancement and gender equality in the workplace.  “Mentorship” is a big, loaded word, just like the word “relationship”.  But both begin life with a simple “hello” and grow organically (or not) from there.

For that reason, we don’t love the word “mentorship” and think its a concept doomed to fail.  After all, useful career advice doesn’t have to come from a formalized relationship or a corporate program.  Useful career advice doesn’t even have to come from someone who is necessarily “senior” to you at the same company (or a different one).  These days, people’s careers zig zag and take them to different places over time (whether its from Industry A to Industry B) or from a certain work-life situation to another one.  In other words, a lot of people know something that can be helpful to someone else and it doesn’t have to look like a stereotypically traditional — and frankly, outdated — model of mentorship in order to be extremely useful.

Another issue with mentorship is that after talking to many people, we ultimately came to the conclusion that one-on-one dialogues cannot be replaced by generic career advice, even from the most well-meaning individuals.  The trouble with one-on-one dialogues, however, is that they’re time-consuming and usually the people who are paragons of career success have the least time to give.

The good news is that we don’t think you have to be famous, a CEO, or even press-worthy to have a lot to offer.  We believe that people can be matched in a productive mentor/mentee relationship if both parties opt in and are realistic and honest in their profiles about what they’ve done and what they’re looking for.  This might end up being nothing more than a one-off chat or it could be a long-lasting affair…Nobody can guarantee it’ll work out every time, but as digital daters all know, that’s ok because there are other fish in the (digital) sea!



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