Jiu Jitsu and Recruiting Pt. 2-The Winning Hold

'Sup guys. To recap from last week, this blog is all about what years of Jiu Jitsu taught me about recruiting, and how the martial art has refined and honed my career skills. The first three steps, explained in much more detail in the last blog cover:

  1. Having a Game Plan: know what you’re doing going into the match

  2. Staying Connected and Creating Space: keep in contact at all times and make space for communication

  3. Keep Good Posture and Balance: master yourself before managing others

You might say these tips cover the more proactive “defensive” aspects of Jiu Jitsu/Recruiting; you’d be correct. While to many Jiu Jitsu may seem an aggressive sport (it is combat, after all), a competitor with intelligence proves much more formidable on the mat than someone with bulgy muscles. The same thing rings true for the recruiting world, and these last two tips are no different.

FOUR: Anticipate Moves and Create Opportunities to Pass

In Jiu jitsu, an important piece of action is attacking someone’s balance and waiting for their reaction, and then counteracting that action, always trying to be one step ahead of your opponent. For example, if I tip someone over, forcing them to post their hands, that gives me the opportunity to attack because they can’t use their hands to defend themselves.

Anticipating moves applies in the same way to when you first start the interview  process with a person. In the beginning, people are very open to telling you details about themselves, because they want something from you (i.e. a new, better, more significant job). In these opening conversations, you must dive deep and learn the details of EVERYTHING this person is up to: where else are they interviewing, what are those processes like, why are they looking for a new job, have the approached their current manager asking for more responsibilities? This initial investment is critical: it uncovers not only their strengths and weaknesses but also their game plan.

All this prep work is performed in anticipation of what always happens throughout the recruiting process: when a person is on the precipice of a job offer, they tend to back off, telling you less and answering only with yes or no. They trust you less now, because they’ve remembered you have a vested interest in “closing the deal”. In essence, they go on the defensive because they want to stay in control of the fight.

You avoid this death blow by anticipating it, and planting the proper seeds of trust and strong communication throughout the entire relationship. You’ve made a habit out of daily conversation and trust, so that when it comes to the single transactional point in the process, the offer, it’s no longer a transactional decision. Most importantly, you’ve made it clear that it’s their decision to tap out at any time.

If you don’t know the candidate’s story from the beginning, there’s hardly a chance of you anticipating their behavior. You can’t know if they have another offer on the table if you don’t know they’re interviewing somewhere else. Frontloading this investment of time in people is crucial, because even if the company you’re competing against is Google, you can win as long as you know what you are up against. Your real competitor here are competing offers, not the person you are trying to hire. Too many mistakes are made at the end of the process because the recruiter did not properly prepare their position for a successful outcome.

The Patriots know all about reading their opponent’s playbook. Boxers study the moves of their challengers day in and out as training. It’s all about outsmarting the competitor.

FIVE: Work for the Submission

In a Jiu Jitsu match, a fighter is always present, alert, and looking for the opening, that single moment that will win them the round. Why spend more time than you need when you could save the energy in one solid sweep and stay on top? Always keep your eye on your end goal, and work for the submission.

Remember, if all your efforts are to build an outstanding team, not every person will be worthy of an offer. It is our responsibility to close offers but more importantly to find the right people who will thrive within the principles of the company.  As a recruiter, make sure your company’s process is clearly defined and conveyed to the candidate upfront so when you find that right fit, he or she’s not getting away. “This is our process, at this point we let you know and make an offer, or we let you know we’re done.”

The whole process of The Offer must be quick, decisive and transparent. The worst thing that can happen is a company lets someone go leave the interview without feedback. Next thing you know a few days goes by and you comeback saying you wanna make an offer, he’s gone. You must continue to move towards the finish line.

If it takes multiple days to make an offer, whether it needs to be discussed in committee or approved by a board, I make sure the company tells candidate up front and says it’ll take time for what reason. As long as the person knows when feedback will come back and it's delivered on time, they’ll stay invested (and in your grip). Don’t let them slip out of your grasp when you're so close to a win.

My mentor, who taught me everything about recruiting, always said time kills placements more than anything else. Always move towards your goal. Don’t give them time to make other moves or let another company snatch the candidate from under you. Grapple and win.


Thanks for reading this two-part series! If you enjoyed, please share, comment, and like, and make sure to subscribe for our emailing list for easy access to my latest blog posts. Hope to see you around soon!

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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