The first time I heard the word "courting" in the professional world, my mind immediately went to an old fashioned term for "dating." A term that more than likely my Grandfather used when he was first "courting" my Grandmother. Today, the word has transitioned to one that is used in a professional sense of when an individual is getting to know a potential employer and vice versa. I love how this word has evolved into the HR world, because I truly feel that the word "courting" truly defines what us Recruiters, Hiring Managers and HR folks think is going on behind the scenes when hiring a new employee.
Webster Dictionary has a few different types of what courtship means, but the most relevant one is defined as "an attempt to convince someone to support you or to choose you or your organization." Brilliant! As a Psychology grad, I concur with the definition of Courtship in the sense of an employer/candidate or candidate/employer relationship. Courtship IS not meant to be defined only in terms of the time before a candidate is actually offered a position. It goes beyond the "honeymoon phase" and normally includes the post-offer and probationary stages. Think about it in the sense of an actual relationship.
Back when I was single and dating, I developed the 3 month rule amongst my friends. My theory, was that in 3 months time, I (or my friends) could determine if this said "guy" had potential to be "the one." The initial 3 months was crucial to prove myself to him and him to me. It also usually involved that first scary argument and meeting each others parents for the first time (not necessarily in that order...lol). My thought was that the first 3 months told a lot about a person and about the potential relationship. At the end of the 3 months, I would reflect back and determine if he was an investment to become "the one."
Ok, so with that scenario in mind, now think of courtship in a modern perspective. One that involves an Employer and Candidate relationship. Both Employer and Candidate are apprehensive of each other in the probationary period upon acceptance of an offer letter. This probationary phase is the time for both parties to shine and show each other what they are capable of doing. The Employer wants to make sure they live up to what they said in the offer stage of growth opportunities and an impeccable benefits package. On the other side, the Candidate, wants to make sure they perform and excel what their dynamic resume originally outlined. Each are "courting" each other through mutual dialogue and respect; with the end goal of becoming a long lasting relationship.
A former CEO of mine, used to tell me after I hired a great candidate, "Let's see how they perform in the first 3 months before I decide if it was indeed a great hire." At first, I thought that was a pessimitic response to my optimistic new hire, but upon further reflection, he was absolutely correct! It makes perfect sense for both parties that are courting one another for there to be a probationary period of 90 days (some employers even do 180). Be patient. Just like relationships, it takes time for an Employer and Candidate to get acclameted to one another. The probationary period with an employer is there for a reason, for both parties involved.
Just like a relationship, this professional employer/candidate courtship is quite similar to my original theory of the 3 month dating rule, though now it features a more professional twist! After all, a lot can be said in those first 3 months of an employer and candidate courting period. The goal, of course, is to have a long lasting loving relationship! If not, then hopefully it will end amicably with the final words of "let's just be friends" before parting ways. If both part ways mutually, just remember (as with most dating relationships), the time spent was not wasted at all and in fact provided an opportunity of growth and personal reflection for both parties involved.