Recruitment Lessons to Learn from The NFL

The past two weeks have been a disaster for the NFL. Domestic violence and child abuse issues have plagued the league, which is not used to finding itself under such immense pressure from the media, fans and even politicians. Commissioner Roger Goodell has done a poor job of managing these situations and instead of actually truly addressing the issues, he and the league are putting their effort into a public relations spin campaign that is doing nothing but hurt their image.

What does this have to do with recruiting? Everything.

Recruiters are faced with challenges and pressure from all angles. Sometimes a candidate will be a great success and other times they fail. Both circumstances reflect on the recruiter’s ability to find the type of candidates a company needs to grow.

The biggest lessons recruiters and talent management professionals can take from the NFL’s horrible mismanagement of important issues is to remember honesty and transparency. Not every candidate you bring in is going to work out, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a complete failure.

When you bring in someone who had all the right things going for them to be successful and they don’t live up to that expectation, learn from it and move on. Take your share of the blame; explain to the manager why you felt it was going to be a good fit and what lessons you’re taking away from it.

The worst thing you can do? Blame it all on the candidate that didn’t work out and act like they are the sole reason the company is back to the drawing board to fill a position. Don’t spin it. Embrace it, debrief with the hiring manager and use that experience to better the next time.

Excuses and cover ups are what get people – even recruiters and managers – into the most trouble. If a multi-billion dollar sports entity like the NFL can’t get away with it (which we’ll see if that’s the case or not in the near future), neither can we, the everyday 9-to-5ers.

In times of crisis in the sports world you hear the word character thrown around a lot: “Player X has had unquestionable character since he joined this team so we have no reason to believe these allegations are true.” When you work in an office for a long time you can start to draw comparisons to the relationships you had on sports teams to the ones you’ve developed with your co-workers. There are bonds that form which make it feel like you’re really on a team.

When looking for new candidates, it’s important for recruiters to be mindful of the team dynamic that has already formed and take that into account when looking hire a new employee. That goes a long way in helping the onboarding process not only for the new candidate, but for the team as well.

And if everything hits the fan all at once? Own it. Learn from it. Move on.


Image used under Creative Commons from Zennie Abraham.