3 Recruiting Lessons that we can learn from the MLB Trade Deadline

If you haven’t learned by now, I’m kind of a sports geek.  Not only do I geek out for the NBA Draft but I also find the Major League Baseball trade deadline to be incredibly interesting.


It’s at this point in the MLB season that can make or break a team’s playoff chances.  General Managers are currently deciding where their team stands in the playoff race and if they should be re-tooling for a run in October or trading current assets to help them build toward the future.  Outlooks can change on a daily basis with buyers and sellers shifting in a matter of hours due to weekend series.  And usually the teams that make the big trade do enough to make a run at a championship (see last year’s Cardinals) so it’s an incredibly important time for these teams.


While the way in which baseball operates is much different than corporate America (no trading being the best example), I think there a number of lessons we can learn from the MLB trade deadline process.


Here are a few recruitment marketing lessons:


Short vs. Long Term Outlook:  In MLB, GM’s are consistently taking stock of the short and long term outlook of their roster and farm system.  This is not only to evaluate when they expect to have a roster to compete for a playoff spot but also how long they expect that window to stay open.

In recruiting, you need to also have this outlook when hiring and filling needs in your organization.  You need to balance experience and the salary compensation needed for a position with the potential of the candidates that you are bringing in.  So there will always be the give and pull of hiring for experience vs. hiring for potential (which you can then train) for your organization.

Spread a Wide Net:  The best GM’s in MLB baseball always have conversations with every team about certain players.  They spread a wide net in order to get the best offer for their current assets.

For recruiting, ensuring that your jobs is getting found by the right candidates is extremely important.  Unlike MLB, you don’t have just 32 teams that you need to follow up with but 1,000′s of sites and locations that you can use to get found by candidates.  But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to figure out your best sources.  Use recruitment metrics to determine which sources provide you with the most qualified candidates and hires for your organization for specific job types.  And use these sources when hiring for specific disciplines.  The better you target your job ads for a specific position the better you will screen out candidates that are not good fits.  And overall, the wider the net you set, the more qualified candidates you will find.

Small Market vs. Big Market: Out of all the major sports in the US, MLB probably has the biggest disparity between the haves and the have-nots.  Big market teams like the Yankees and the Red Sox can afford to greatly outspend their small market counterparts.  What this means is that these small market teams need to spend smarter and make better decisions in order to compete.

This is no different from the business world.  Large companies have the money, brand name and other perks that many smaller organizations just do not have.  And no recruiting situation where two companies are going after similar talent is ever even.  However, it is up to the smaller companies to be more nimble and provide benefits to employees that the big boys cannot.  In these scenarios, it’s important to highlight what makes your organization unique and spread the message in your job ads, on your Career Site and through other channels (such as social media).  If you are able to get this message across you are much more likely to win these recruiting battles.

The MLB trade deadline is one of the more exciting times in the baseball season and is the most important time for GM’s to finalize and complete their rosters.  Recruiting can learn a little bit from this process as they continue to build their organization’s roster of employees.  From understanding both the short term and long term outlook of their workforce to casting a wide targeted net to the right candidates, they can help their organization form a winning team.


Have any thoughts? Connect with me on Twitter @smashfly!

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