5 Football Analogies That Will Resonate With 80% of Hiring Managers

Nov 12, 2009

Picture 4I have officially lost control of the remote on Sundays, Saturdays, and Mondays. In 15 years of love and marriage with a football fanatic, I haven’t learned a whole lot about the whole pastime, but I have learned that most men know a lot about football and care about it a lot more than recruiting. I also have noticed that most men use football to talk to each other on holidays, campouts, and soccer games. I would imagine it accounts for about 70% of all guy small talk. So I started thinking about using football as a metaphor for getting managers to do what I want, which is help me sell the company, the candidate, and get me hires. I didn’t come up with this idea, and it isn’t very original, but by golly, it works. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Instead of going to a career fair to find your next top tier hire, get your manager to realize that great people have to be recruited. “If you needed another QB like Tom Brady, would he stand in line at a career fair, or answer a want ad online, in the paper, or on your website? No, you have to call his agent who gets him interested and to the table to talk. I’m that agent.”
  2. When a hiring manager and HR want to make a lowball offer because the recession has made everyone more desperate, but your candidate is employed, here’s what you say to get them to reconsider low-balling. “When a kid is getting ready to go out high in the draft, do you think about what the lowest package is that he will consider? No, you make him the best offer you can afford to make or you pass on the pick. No one who is good is going to be happy or accept a low-ball offer.”
  3. When a manager wants to look around at all resumes and candidates on the planet even though the very best candidate just interviewed and wants the job: “It’s kind of like picking a starter instead of second string. When you see someone who is going to be the key to your bench, you don’t hesitate to look around in case someone else might be better; you add them to the team in the first string. Just because he is first doesn’t mean he isn’t the best.”
  4. When a manager wants to change the position or add unrealistic job functions to a new role: “It’s not like there aren’t people like Deion Sanders who can play offense and defense and the entire length of the game. It is just extremely rare to find someone who will do both. It would be better to find a great cornerback than an average cornerback who can also return a kick.”
  5. Instead of letting a team do too many jobs for too long and asking them to double that for the “good of the company,” consider this: “Even the best players need to feel like they have back up, have time to recover, and like to play one position very well. Do you think that you may risk losing your best players if you play them too long?”

I know a lot of people who will think it is very funny that I would ever remotely write about football because I don’t give a hoot about it. And I also know that managers don’t want to be talked down to or reduced to silly analogies. But there is some truth to the fact that language and cultural barriers account for the majority of miscommunications. Finding the common ground in what interests them may be the entry point toward showing them what you got.

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