What Recruiters Can Learn from VCU RAMS and Butler Bulldogs

by Mike Mayeux

Although there aren’t as many Cinderella stories this year, most of our offices still love tournament time in college basketball. Do you remember this time last year, when both tiny Butler and VCU were still alive come Final Four time? Wow! Now that demonstrates world class recruiting with the ultimate quality of hire/post hire measurement in place.

Think about it. Imagine Google is hiring for their open position of Men’s College Basketball National Champion. This year, one could argue that any of the Final Four team’s resumes would likely qualify them for the job. After all, they are all from pedigree institutions with proven basketball programs. Louisville might be a little bit of a long shot as a number four seed, but I still think Google would likely interview them for their top basketball job.

Certainly, that wouldn’t have been true last year. Last year, the finalist for that top job included a couple of candidates who just shouldn’t have made the cut. They didn’t come from the right school or have the right experience – but they made it. One of them even made it to the final interview with a shot at getting the offer to cut down the net and walk away with the top job.

How do the under dog’s, “the Cinderella’s”, get there? Basketball fan or not, you may be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with recruiting? Let me explain. They get there by assembling a world class team in their own right, against the odds, with the pieces cast off by the more prestigious institutions. Then they do what great teams are designed to do – they execute. Well. Game after game until finally, they make their way to that “final interview” called the Final Four. And that, my recruiter friends, has everything to do with what we do as recruiters every day.

For every one of us who represent the Google’s or the Microsoft’s of the world – those organizations who have a superhero employment brand and get to hire only the best of the best – there are one hundred of us regular recruiters. We represent hiring managers who need great talent, but their employment brand isn’t Google. Many of them are still “A” companies, maybe some of them are “B” players, but every one of them can do what Butler did two years in a row, and VCU did last year. They can find the talent that Kentucky and Duke and North Carolina left behind. You know who they are, those developers that are brilliant but didn’t quite make the cut at Microsoft. We can interview that talent in such a way that we understand their unique skills and abilities and can recognize that on the right team they will achieve championship results.

Then we can play the role that scouts play in an athletic environment, and explain to the hiring manager why a 5’11” point guard has the intangibles that will win a championship for him when the job description the hiring manager gave you specifically said “no point guards under 6’4” will be interviewed”. Then we turn to that 5’11” point guard, who your competition has also recognized as having the “fire in the belly” that goes with all great athletes and high performing employees, and sell him on why our opportunity is the best route to a championship in his career.

And finally, when the team is assembled and it performs above and beyond the expectations of management and shareholders, we get to sit in the stands away from the limelight and celebration, but with the tremendous satisfaction of knowing that we played our part in delivering a win through recruiting great talent. Yep, we get to live March Madness every day of our careers!

About the Author

Jimmy Taylor has more than 20 years experience in the recruiting industry and is the co-founder of Novotus- Huston-based RPO company.

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