How to Win in Recruiting

By Liz Carey

The National Hockey League playoffs start today, and it got me thinking how hockey recruiting and executive recruiting is similar. Just as hockey recruiters have lots to assess besides how a player can shoot the puck, executive recruiters have to look beyond job titles and resume bullet points to make sure their candidate will be a fit at their client company.

Here’s a few quotes from college hockey coaches from this article on What Coaches Want in Recruiting, and how they can be applied to the executive recruiting world.

  • “Obviously you want to see skill and character. To me, if there’s one thing missing, I’d love to see everyone take more time and allow the relationship to build between the school, the recruit and the family. If everyone does their best homework and builds that relationship you’ll see much better fits across the board.” – Steve Rohlik, Ohio State
    • How true this is! When a fall-off occurs because the candidate wasn’t a great fit for the company or because they were entertaining other offers, the recruiter could have identified that risk. It’s important to really build a relationship with your candidate so you understand not only their skills, but their motivation and goals, so you can anticipate all possible situations. It’s also important to really understand your client company’s workplace and team so you can prepare your candidate and nothing will “pop up” to make them want to bail.
  • “One thing we’d like to see more of from players and parents is more of an open-minded approach. Realize the great opportunities that are available from some of the smaller schools, not just the BCs and Wisconsins. Be educated about the entire player experience, including academically, and consider the whole package.” – Ryan Soderquist, Bentley
    • This statement can 100% apply to candidates who pass up an offer from one of your clients because they want to work for a “bigger name” to boost their resume. Oftentimes, smaller companies have better perks, more flexibility, or a better company culture because they know they can’t compete with the “big guys.” Make sure you know everything about your client’s workplace, benefits, etc. so you can really “sell” the opportunity to candidates. Maybe a small organization can’t pay as much, but tout the fact that they have a quick career trajectory, or they will get experience managing or leading that they might otherwise not have at a larger company.
  • “Lots of kids you see are very robotic and programmed in the way they play. We want to see more hockey sense. If a guy can think the game, he can make up for a lot of limitations, whether it’s size, speed or anything else.” – Brendan Whittet, Brown
    • I think of this as a client saying this about recruiters. Anyone can farm a bunch of resumes and blast them to a client and call themselves a “recruiter.” But what sets someone apart is “recruiting sense.” You may not be the biggest firm around, or have the largest geographical reach, but if you apply that recruiting sense and set yourself apart, clients will keep coming back to you.  For example, did your client’s last newsletter talked about opening up offices abroad? Let them know you’re part of an international recruiting network, and can help them build their staff overseas. Another way to set yourself apart – send your client 2-3 minute videos of your candidates… it’s a lot more engaging than a resume and cover letter. Think of ways to step outside the box and deliver what no one else can.

Think of yourself as a coach helping to build your client’s winning team, and you’ll be on your way to a championship in no time!

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