Talent Management

How is Recruiting Like a Highschool Sport?

There is no difference for many companies!

The traditional approach by which the vast majority of companies treat the  process of recruiting is similar to the process of recruiting used by most  public high school sports teams at the beginning of a new season.

You might ask: How on Earth could Barry come up with an analogy like this  one?

I’ll assume that many of the readers of this blog post either played a high  school sport at some point or have had children who played (playing now) a high  school sport. The analogy will make perfect sense in just a moment.

What gives me the right to make this analogy?

In addition to the work I do in executive search firm, traveling frequently  as a speaker, and being a prolific blogger and author, I also coach high school  girls basketball.

The Analogy of Recruiting to a High School Sport

I’m sure you’re either going to start laughing nervously or begin slapping  your forehead after you’ve read it.

I’m coaching the last game of the season last February. All season long my  team has done an extraordinary job. They have out-played and out-worked numerous  opponents and won games we probably had no right to win.

Unfortunately, in this last game, my team is self-destructing before my very  eyes. I’m almost embarrassed to watch them play. It’s as if they have forgotten  everything I’ve taught them in the last six months.

I am pulling every motivational technique I have learned in 25 years out of  my back pocket and nothing is working. Then it hits me like a lightening bolt. I flop down on the bench and realize  the group of girls I’ve got on my team cannot execute to my expectations. I  don’t have the talent capable of doing what needs to be accomplished.

Here’s the rub: This is high school basketball. In most public high schools,  you can’t recruit talent. You take whoever shows up on your doorstep that  season – and that’s the talent pool you’re forced to select from for your  team.

Traditional Approaches of Recruiting

Most companies use traditional methods to find candidates: run an ad on-line,  attend a few job fairs, conduct a little light networking, and search the  databases of the job boards.

These companies then take WHOEVER shows up on their doorstep from those  traditional sources and considers that group to be their candidate pool.

It’s just like the process of taking whoever shows up for a high school  sports team at the beginning of a season.

Does this sound like your recruiting process?

Does this sound partially dysfunctional?

The Bottom Third of the Candidate Pool

The sad part of this approach to recruiting is that at most you’re seeing 10%  of the available, qualified, and potentially interested candidate pool. You’re  only looking at the candidates who are aggressively seeking a new  opportunity.

Unfortunately, many times this is the bottom of the barrel of qualified  candidates. You’re seeing the bottom third of the candidate pool. If all you’re  seeing is the bottom third, you’re doomed to fail before you start. You’re not only seeing the “best of the worst” – you’re seeing the “cream of  the crap” as one my clients so eloquently termed this approach to  recruiting.

Questions to Ponder and Share With Other Readers

Here are a few questions for which I would love to hear your comments:

1) Is your recruiting process similar to that of a high school sports  team?

2) Are you prepared to stop this dysfunctional approach to recruiting?

3) What are you doing to improve your recruiting process to emerge from the  recession with better talent?

4) Do you have a plan in place to change the methods by which you use to  recruit?

5) For those members who have seen my Vistage presentation, what have you  implemented that has led to a significant recruiting process  improvement?

Next week, we’ll talk about the 4 common pools of candidates and where the  sweet spot is to recruit the very best for your company.

Category: Talent Management

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Barry Deutsch About the Author: Barry Deutsch

Barry Deutsch has been a popular Vistage Speaker for over a decade in the areas of hiring and retention. In recognition of the value of his presentations, Vistage has given him the prestigious IMPACT Speaker of the Year Award. He is a co-aut…

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