Fantasy Football and Recruiting – A marriage made on the cyber gridiron?

I have some wild ideas about how to attract and source for applicants. After all, I have been in the “Internet Recruiting” space since 2000 and have watched applicant traffic come from places you’d never imagine. So today, Toby Noding and I went out on a live presentation and the first thing we got to talking about with a Senior Director of Global Staffing was fantasy football. He mentioned that he picked up a guy named Arian Foster who had a huge day against the Colts but was on his bench. Why was he on the bench if he had such a huge day? Because this player had to prove himself to this manager before he had the guts to start him on his fantasy team. I think Mister Foster passed the first interview and he’s got the guts now. How does this relate to recruiting you might ask? Well this post isn’t going to talk about how to relate a fantasy pickup to the hiring process. (Someone remind me to post about that though, thanks.)

When we got back to the office, I read a tweet from this guy: @mobiletize that said 27 million people play fantasy football. To me that’s not hard to believe because I have been doing it since 1999 and each year I’m in another league with new guys. I was even in a league last year with @steveboese so we know HR Tech folks are doing it too. I quickly went to Google and searched “fantasy football demographics.” One interesting result was from back in 2007 by, get this, the Fantasy Sports Association (which seems to have site issues now but has some great data) saying that there were 11.7 million unique fantasy football users across multiple providers (most of whom sell ads). They even broke down the data by occupations and over half the users are Professional, Executives, Managers, Techincal, Educational, or Sales people. Who knows how accurate the information is but it doesn’t surprise me because I am in leagues with people from each of these categories. Here, take a look if you don’t believe me: (it’s a power point that I downloaded so you don’t have to) here’s a screen shot of it:

I was also able to dig up and old Forbes article about the costs of Fantasy Football on companies that said:

According to online market research groups Hitwise and comScore, the average fantasy football player makes between $60,000 and $100,000 per year. Taking the $80,000 midpoint as its estimate, Challenger Gray calculates than an average employee wastes $6.40 for those 10 minutes a day he or she is brushing work aside to check the fantasy waiver wire in search of a backup tight end. That would add up to $32 a week and $545 over the course of the season. With 13.6 million players, the check comes to $7.4 billion for American businesses.

So, I’m thinking...There’s got to be a way for us to leverage this booming channel to source applicants. Buying keywords on search engines seems to be a hot topic these days. So, how could HR and Recruiting capitalize on all these people wasting time by dabbling in some ads on these sites? We could have a real good chance to attract those “passive job seeker” unicorns we’re all looking for. I’m willing to bet that not every fantasy football player loves their job or wouldn’t at least look at enticing new career info. I know that if companies strategically posted employment ads in Yahoo! Fantasy Football, in my “Big Time” league, they can reach a few targeted skills and have a strong chance of gaining an applicant. Method MAC (sales executive), Hot Dog Larry (project manager), The Mike (construction manager), and Hacksaw Jim Dunnan (financial analyst). Fast Eddie (OptiJob sales superstar) and Beware of Doug (me) would also follow through to see how the candidate experience was because we’re HR Technology freaks. That’s 6 people they could attract from just one league right there and a chance for 4 bona-fide applicants in the ATS. And you know they're coming back next week.

Seems like a shotgun approach, but it’s not much different than half the things we already use or have tried. Now, I’m thinking that if a company had the guts to try this, I’d recommend 4 days/times (all Eastern) to try this.

1. Sunday morning between 11:00AM and 1:00PM when lineups are being finalized

2. Sunday night at say…10:00PM or right around halftime of the Sunday night game when people are checking their scores before they turn in for the night, dreading work on Monday.

3. Monday Morning between 7:00AM and 10:00AM when we’re checking to see how bad we’re kicking the ass of our opponent or doing math to see how many points we need from our RB or Defense to win on Monday night. And we all know that people hate their jobs when they’re at work first thing on Monday. Seems like a no brainer to me don’t you think?

4. Tuesday morning between 7:00 AM and 10:00AM when you’re sitting there checking to see how bad you really kicked your opponent’s ass and gloating about it or how he or she pulled it out with a forced fumble with 34 seconds left.

Try it and let me know how it works. Fantasy Sports isn’t the only place I think we could be testing ads. If we polled our top performers and new hires, there’s probably a list of 20 sites we could buy an ad or two on that we never thought of. This was my first official blog post. If you liked it, then that’s awesome, please comment and look for more posts. If you didn’t, well then I still got you to read this far, didn’t I? You should comment too.

Views: 321

Comment by John Reen on September 15, 2010 at 3:19am
Good information
Comment by Bill Ward on September 15, 2010 at 2:57pm

Seriously? You techie types get your panties in a bunch anytime a recruiter enters the realm of the forbidden chat room and wants to connect with people in the group. The very mention of a potential job opportunity brings the wrath and scorn of everyone that reads the recruiter's post. Now you're suggesting that companies post random job ads and their internal recruiting groups look for ways to solicit random participants of Fantasy Football leagues? What's even more hilarious is that HR already gets enough flack from management about the number of unqualified applicants already burying companies with resumes. Mind you, these resumes must be stored and maintained at cost.

As you point out, this is absolutely a "shotgun approach" which actually comes across to potential candidates as desperate. And who are you targeting anyway? The guy that does just enough work not to get fired? Give me a break.

On the bright side, you could probably make millions by developing some app that helps the latest herd of recruiting flunkies source the hidden gems of talent lurking online playing Fantasy Football. Sounds like a future Careerbuilder tech company acquisition to me.
Comment by Scott Sachs on September 15, 2010 at 3:36pm
Hi Doug,

What a GREAT blog, it scored a TD with me for sure! Why? In addition to my duties at my "real" job that I love and have fun at, I started my own Fantasy Football website offering Live Talk & Advice, that I love and have fun at. In addition to my general love of Fantasy Football, that demographic info you cited is exactly what spurred me to action to have a site at all. In our Recruiting & BizDev roles, we all are anxious to network and bond with diverse personalities who perhaps share a common interest with ourselves. Perhaps we can then add mutually beneficial value down the line with them--professionally as well as personally.

Those demographics shout out that many Fantasy Sports Players seem to to not only have passion for their sports, but also passion for their careers. Isn't that "passion" a key to being a Top Performer? And, of course, to win the "War for Talent" it is essential to bring those Top Performers into your pipeline--whether they be an active or passive Candidate, or even a potential Client.

I am totally on-board with your most creative sourcing take on our mutually admirable hobby!
Comment by Scott Sachs on September 15, 2010 at 3:48pm
Sorry Bill, but there is good and bad in everything. If someone is interested in checking out a bizdev or career opportunity, does it matter where the lead came from? I am sure slackers abound in every interest group--even FFB players, but those demographics simply suggest a creative possibility for sourcing and not a paradigm shift.
Comment by Bill Ward on September 15, 2010 at 4:04pm
Agree to disagree Scott. that's what the forum is about. I respect your opinion. Keep in mind that if you're marketing anything (widgets, jobs, etc), doesn't make more sense to know who your target audience is rather than a random group of people? I think we know the answer to that. It's not a matter anymore of volume in the recruiting industry. Suggesting a shotgun approach to anything recruiting related is nothing more than a low value, transactional exercise from management's point of view.

Let me ask you this, how comfortable would you be taking this to your CFO for a funding request? Creative possibility or paradigm shift aside?
Comment by Chris Amato on September 16, 2010 at 12:04pm
Hi Doug,

This is a bit biased since we have been working together for a while, but since it's your first post a little positive feedback is always nice and in this case, deserved. I love that you backed up your ideas and concepts with accurate data from disparate sources. You know our philosophy and the numbers -nice brownie points.

What some seem to forget, is that there are psychological issues at play when sourcing candidates. Referrals, job postings, resume databases, root mining, search mining, social networks, mobile users and on and on. Candidates are people, like you and I and they have feelings. They have their online comfort zone, their happy places, their hobby and interest groups etc. People are most receptive when comfortable and secure. Happy people are more receptive and trusting. It just is, so looking at this pool of potential candidates is no different than looking at any other like group. Are the folks playing Fantasy Football any more or less desirable than folks on FaceBook? I don't have the stats to tell you, we'll get them, but I'm certain the cross over is significant.

As we know, the key is in the message and timing of delivery. I'm quite confident if the message was crafted correctly that you would indeed see a response. Every group, small and large are made up of individuals and I would think that 27 million is a large enough group to contain some individuals very well suited for our clients open positions. Not viewing this group as an opportunity, is to say that the 27Million playing fantasy football have no value in the workforce.

We now know that the Fantasy Football group is receptive and eager to forward messages to their trusted friends within the leagues. One of the highest conversion rates we have seen, but not enough data to confirm the qualitative value of the campaigns. I agree 100% with Scott, we always hire competitive candidates and fantasy football players are some of the most competitive out there. I think you stumbled on something here my friend! Let's hope nobody else reads this blog :) Oops just saw it went out in the email.

Great post and great find!
Comment by Tiger Patrick on September 16, 2010 at 12:20pm
I love looking outside the box! Excellent to "throw" this out there. I saw this Video on YouTube the other day and it is a takeoff on another way to monetize the FFA Marketplace. Hilarious!
Comment by Chris Amato on September 16, 2010 at 1:00pm

The FFA YouTube video is awesome. Anything with Busey in it is gold.

Thanks buddy.



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