Jiu Jitsu and Recruiting: Arm Bar Your Way To Success

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. In the month I’ve been MIA, I hit a milestone in my life that I’m damn proud of: after years of training, I earned my purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Just one more belt closer to black.


While thinking about this momentous occasion, I thought a lot about how much studying Jiu Jitsu influenced my recruiting style and has sharpened my focus in my career. Hours down the rabbit hole of introspection later, I realized recruiting and Jiu Jitsu had so many similarities there was no wonder I passionately pursued both.


The fundamentals of both recruiting and Jiu Jitsu share multiple common core principles that allow practitioners to set a groundwork for success and optimize their potential for victory. Just like life, it is a fight. You are going to win some and you are going to lose some.  What's important is that you continue to sharpen the sword in both aspects of your life to remain relevant.


ONE: Have a Game Plan


This may seem like common sense, but a solid 85% of success are things within a person’s circle of influence. I have a regimented time schedule, breakdown of methods and techniques for different stages of the process, and a core set of rules that guide my every step. I prepare for what can go wrong and try to counter it before it becomes problematic. Setting expectations and establishing a good framework (role responsibilities) are key. This game plan allows me a) a clear path forward with building momentum towards success, b) wiggle room in case something doesn’t go according to plan, and c) no room to wing it...which doesn’t work.


Whether on the mat or in recruiting, fundamentals are the guiding pillars. In Jiu Jitsu, every white belt begins with the basics, and as the student progresses they build on top of that foundation while never abandoning the constant refinement and reinforcement of those first principles.  Practice makes perfect. As Archilochus is oft quoted, “We don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”


TWO: Stay Connected and Creating Space


In Jiu Jitsu, whether you’re on the bottom attacking or on top going for the win, you always want to make sure you are connected when you move to advance your position. You must always maintain at least 3 points of contact, a triangle, with your opponent and create the opportunity to finish by controlling the distance.  Making small adjustments along the way will inevitably bring you to a successful end goal.


This triangle plays a powerful role in the recruiting world too. It is essential that there is a tight, open channel of communication between the recruiter and the hiring manager, the recruiter and the potential hire, and the hiring manager and the potential. As a recruiter, you’re responsible for keeping all three connections transparent, honest, and consistent. Your framework will help you create the proper distance to consistently deliver a predictable result.  


Ensuring there is an open line of communication is essential for successful recruiting, as the time spent actively fosters the trust that becomes essential down the line when dealing with candidates nervous about accepting an offer. Furthermore, close connections with the hiring manager allow you to do your best work, finding the best FIT for the company, instead of merely the best person. Most importantly, the connection between hiring manager and candidate must be positive; after all, they’re the one’s who will be co-workers.


To avoid things getting lost in translation, a good recruiter (and martial artist) must ingrain these maintained points of contact as part of his or her regiment. Establish patterns that you can repeat, have a game plan, refine it and execute. It’s your job to manage the outcome of the situation as you’d control a move in a match.


THREE: Keep Good Posture and Balance

A good fighter constantly perfects his physical form, cultivating posture and balance in the same way a pianist practices scales. This translates into how you represent the company for whom you are recruiting. As you connect with people, it is essential to retain a positive, well-oiled presentation about the opportunity, to eloquently deliver the message of what the company is trying to achieve. You, with all your cleverness, are the one responsible for bringing to light the parallels between your opportunity and the career goals of the person you are trying to recruit.


This bullet point also applies to how you manage your OWN time. A recruiter, on average, juggles between twenty to twenty-five roles at any given time. This level of multitasking requires a game plan, or else one dropped ball could carry over across the board.


I created a regimented schedule I follow religiously, only breaking my time commitments if someone is lost on their way to an interview or a similar emergency. I make calls in two 90 minute periods a day, set up interviews around lunch time, follow-up first thing in the morning. I never sit around waiting for an email responses! Over years of recruiting and Jiu Jitsu practice, I can say with certainty: productivity and success increases with discipline and technique refinement.




I have two more tips to share with you on next week’s blog post! Stay tuned...Better yet, subscribe to our emailing list to be notified when it happens.


Until next time!


Rick Girard is the Managing Director and Founder of Stride Search, a boutique software talent search firm. While not running a School for Gifted Mutants, he creates valuable content for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers alike to elevate industry standards of exclusive professional search.

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