Holden Jones Blog - We like how people smell

We Like How People Smell

At a recent board meeting, held in the quiet part of a reputable establishment, both Holden Jones’ directors wistfully recalled the days of meeting every candidate face-to-face, the memories having been invoked by strong olfactory recollections. Pressing the flesh, looking them in the eye, smelling their fear! That’s what happened with every candidate for every vacancy. Okay, maybe they didn’t smell fear, but candidates make an effort for interviews and that includes how they smell (and for good reason).

Holden Jones has, historically, been a London, Berkshire, and Surrey-based recruiter, however, from time-to-time we recruit outside our usual geography. This doesn’t present any problems, other than the usual ones you encounter in recruitment, but the opportunity to meet candidates who live miles away are much slimmer. We use Skype, WhatsApp, Line, GoToMeeting, and any other variety of video calling app, and they work fantastically. We get a good impression of the candidate, we can put them on the spot a little and see their reactions. But are we getting a true sense of them? Are we able, to the best of our abilities as trained, professional recruiters, take the measure of a candidate thought a video screen? We think not always, and a huge factor in this conclusion is our senses.

Smell is more important than most people realise. Let’s get a little biological; smell enters the nose and sends electrical signals to the olfactory bulb. In turn, the information about the scent is passed to the limbic system, the part of the brain associated with memories, emotions, moods, and more. You need to know this, as smell is also closely linked to memory. We associate a great deal with smells and remember these associations with greater veracity as they also have strong emotions attached. You may not remember a person’s scent, but their smell has helped you remember more about them and your meeting than if you hadn’t had a sniff.

The clever people who create the perfumes, aftershaves and eau de toilettes we consume so ferociously, have designed an entire industry around moving our emotions and shifting our perceptions of people merely by their scent. By not meeting candidates, we miss the efforts of a multi-billion pound industry to create fantastic memories, as well as the subconscious, emotional and primeval signals we never even knew we were registering.

And now, to the crux of our article; why is missing out on this olfactory fun so important? In a word: connections. Those who suffer with anosmia, lack the ability to smell (or perceive smells), report their emotions feel “blunted” without the ability to process scents. They feel cut-off from society, disconnected from the rest of the world. An inability to smell can lead to an inability to form meaningful relationships and further, it can lead to depression. It’s hard to overstate the importance of smell in life and relationships.

Recruiters are in the people-business and relationships are the central pillar to everything we do. Yes, we can function as an agency without shaking hands and smelling candidates, but we would rather not (don’t read too much into candidate sniffing, this is not a fetish, its just part of life). We like the connections we make when meeting people face-to-face, without them we feel a little blunted, somewhat missing a connection, similar to sufferers of anosmia.

Human-to-human interaction is amazing (if you didn’t know it already) but, technology is on a ceaseless mission to drive mankind apart. We are becoming more and more remote from other humans. You never have to leave your house (job permitting), and dirty yourself with contact with another human ever again. But why would you want that? Other humans are great! They’re fun to be around, they make you feel fantastic, and sometimes they smell good too.

Here at Holden Jones, we’re are doing our bit to fight the tide of technology. We want to take the measure of the person by their ability in a face-to-face interview, not via computer or mobile screen. We want to shake their hand and look them in the eye (yes, we appreciate this sounds cliched), but that’s why we like how people smell.