How To Recruit Happy People

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By: BrightMove Recruiting Software

It seems that lately our society has become intrigued with the notion of “happiness.” How do we define it? How do we acquire it? How do we keep it? And most importantly, how do we hire happy people?

Countless books have popped up on the New York Times best-seller list attempting to answer these questions: “Stumbling Upon Happiness,” by Daniel Gilbert, and both “The Happiness Project,” and “Happier at Home,” by Gretchen Rubin. They all promise greater happiness through better life choices. Personally, I don’t think you should turn “happiness” into a “project,” which makes it seem like a chore, rather than a naturally occurring thought, but that’s just me. However, if you are unhappy in your current life, you do have to put in some effort to change it.

Then I watched a documentary called “Happiness,” and they featured a woman whose happiness was not a choice, it was an ingrained feeling. Her face was run over by a car, and after the tragedy, she said she learned how to find more peace, serenity, and tranquility in her life. She said: “It’s weird to say this, but you could say I am happier now than I was before. I was always so driven, such an overachiever, but now I am more grounded, more centered, more content with myself.”

An employee who has these key factors: one who is centered, one who is well balanced, and one who is content with their circumstances, are ideal hires.

Then, I read a Coca Cola print ad while flipping through a magazine that read: “Happiness is BFFs.” This soft drink company promises us eternal happiness as long as close friends and sugary carbonates surround us. They did get the friendship part right. Employees who have strong social ties tend to be happier people.

Americans have become fascinated with the concept of happiness. As recruiters, it’s important to:

1)    Hire a happy person.

This seems like a pretty simplistic statement, but the most qualified candidate may not have the best attitude down the road. Do you want to hire an accountant who is walking around miserable all day, but is great at crunching numbers? Do you want a salesperson that is great at closing clients, but picks fights with his coworkers? Genuinely happy people have a good work/life balance. They are personable. They have a social life, but are also highly driven to succeed. They have close friends and family that care about them. They are confident, meaning they are stable and secure within themselves.

2)    Hire a person who will be happy in their job position and industry.

This also seems like a pretty intuitive statement, but recruiters do it all the time: they hire a candidate based on their education and experience, and not their drive. For example: don’t hire a customer service representative who is really an aspiring firefighter. I can prove this because I was one of those unhappy employees years ago, working as a technical writer when I really wanted to be a creative writer. I spent five years of my career unhappy and frustrated. When I finally got into the field that I belonged in and aspired to, I became happier, healthier, engaged, and satisfied with my career.

The bottom line: hire employees who honestly like what they do for 40 hours a week, and you will have a happy work environment.


  1. Pat Rathwell on October 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Good article that serves as a reminder to us all that hiring candidates who are digruntled or unhappy in their lives leads to negative, unhappy employees in the workplace. One of the keys to hiring happy candidates is to look for a candidate with high emotional intelligence.

  2. Wendy on October 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I think this is a great article! As owner & founder of The Office Press, (a human resources company packed full of forms for employers to use to open the lines of communication with their employees) I couldn’t agree more. However, it may be hard to determine on an interview if this person is generally a happy person since they usually put their best foot forward during an interview. Asking them questions about everyday life (keeping in mind legal boundaries) & how they answer them could give great clues to their true personality.

  3. Morgan Hoyes on October 23, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    ‘Right persopn for the job’ means the same now as it did 50 years ago, its just that we have more tools now to help us choose the right person. For example, behavioural and personality profiling to match what we know about high performers for a particular type of posiiton, Happiness has a high percentage of carry over if the current and new position are essentially the same. But what is the new position is significantly different? How many times have we seen a great salesperson be promoted to a leadership role only to flounder, resulting in loss of happiness for them and the people around them? Or a successful projects person going into a Sales role?
    Analysing happiness in candidates, and how their happiness might be influenced by the new role is not something I have done before, but will now.
    I might even have a crack at analysing myself 🙂

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