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?