Top 5 Practices Recruiters Should Adopt From Fantasy Football

Be it by accident or design, most recruiters or companies looking to hire talent limit themselves to a game of Texas hold ‘em, blindly accepting the talent they’re dealt from a limited deck of prospects. But the fantasy football approach to executive recruiting detailed in our new book, Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream Team and Crush the Competition,” invites you to think differently by stacking the deck in your favor — every time.

 You don’t have to play by ordinary rules. Owners and managers of NFL football teams are forced to operate within certain rules. They must abide by a salary cap, meaning they can only recruit enough talent to fit within an artificial ceiling. They also aren’t allowed to recruit another owner’s player if under contract — it’s called tampering.

But fantasy football owners don’t give a hoot about salary caps or tampering: for them, it’s all about finding the best and most clutch talent available anywhere and at any time. Executive recruiters must do the same thing by adopting an abundance mindset, and considering every executive as available, all the time (barring any hands-off restrictions).

You can be your own scouting department. Successful fantasy football owners are notorious research junkies. Whether it’s offense or defense or bench strength they’re looking for, it’s all online: completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions. For executive recruiters, this same intensity of research — using public information from websites like ZoomInfo and LinkedIn — can create an environment in which you can continuously recruit high-performance teams with every search project.

Know who you want before you even see them. Just as a fantasy owner looking for a quarterback knows they want a Cam Newton or Peyton Manning, search research can help you create detailed performance profiles on every executive you could ever consider before even meeting anyone. This intelligence allows performance comparisons of various groups and individuals against each other, as well as against a host of variables including company size and maturity, geography, market positioning, and even company culture.

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Embrace the data, don’t drown in it. Because every player’s performance information is available for analysis and scrutiny, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed — both in fantasy football and recruiting an executive. Although your initial list may be huge, a researcher with an abundance mentality can easily reduce an impressive yet intimidatingly large list to a manageable number of all-stars. And if you begin your research prior to hiring a search consultant, you’ll have a much better understanding of where the firm should focus its intelligence gathering efforts (you’ll also have a better idea of whether they’re putting enough effort into your project).

Recognize that all players (and people) have patterns. Patterns of success and patterns of failure. So start by asking potential candidates to take you through their career, starting with when they left college to the present day. Just as the best fantasy football owners know which players fare better in rain or snow, do the conditions under which your candidate was wildly successful in the past currently exist in your organization today? Listening to their story will give you 95 percent of the information you need to determine if they’ll be a good fit at your company.

It’s not just a game for you. Fantasy football owners spend countless hours and their own money hunting for the slightest edge over the competition. While many consider it a simple pastime, fanatical fantasy football owners are deadly serious about their craft. Considering your next executive search could make or break your business, doesn’t it behoove you to at least put in the same (or better) effort in your own search research?

David Perry works with CEOs, presidents, and business owners to bring their organizations up the level of performance and profitability they need to compete and win in the knowledge economy.

Nicknamed the "Rogue Recruiter" by the Wall Street Journal, he is also the award winning author of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 and five other books on recruiting and job search.  

He has three decades experience recruiting senior executives as managing partner of Perry-Martel International Inc., where he has personally closed more than $250 million in deals on five continents.

Mark Haluska has been an executive search professional for 16 years. From nearly the beginning of his “second career,” he quickly gained the attention of many of North America’s better-known and established boutique recruiting firms and “employer of choice" corporate clients. 

Haluska served in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed on the USS La Salle stationed out of Manama, Bahrain, USS Truett, and the USS Piedmont out of Norfolk, Virginia.

Completing his military obligation, he was hired into a staff position at Penn State University and then under the Veterans Readjustment Act, he went to work for U.S. Government employed in a civilian capacity at various U.S. military installations in a mission-critical civilian capacity as a management & systems officer. 

In this “second career,” he has been an independent executive recruiting generalist working internationally in a multitude of disciplines to include legal, energy, marketing, medical, IT/IS, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, construction, telecommunications, finance, and other disciplines with successful hires ranging from upper middle management to president and CEO-level positions.