What Hockey Can Teach Us About Effective Recruiting

It’s the height of hockey season and the winning teams and great players all have one thing in common—they skate to where the puck will be versus where it already is at any given moment. The great one, Wayne Gretzky, was known for this trait, with many players that have come after him emulating this best practice.

In hockey you score by advancing the puck into the goal; in recruiting you score by having and advancing the right person into the need of the customer. Therein lies the issue—too many firms make too many clients hurry up and wait (that’s the equivalent in hockey of just passing the puck during a power play). So, what do those clients do? They hedge their bets by spreading the love, giving multiple firms the order. Everyone loses in this scenario as the client increases their labor intensity managing multiple relationships while the firms whose candidates aren’t chosen end doing pro bono work.

The solutions is to have who clients need before they need them. Can you anticipate every need? Of course not, however, most firms can be more focused and more prepared for what their customers buy most of the time. Without exception, every firm I’ve worked with has been able to identify at least two to three positions they know their customers will need to have filled. Instead of waiting for the orders, they actively recruit those people ahead of time. When buyers call, they have who they want, when they want them. As a result, these firms get more exclusive orders (sometimes without even asking), more repeat business, and more closed deals. It should be no surprise that these companies are growing faster than their competitors who continue to play hurry up and wait.

Hockey is a fast moving, contact sport, and so is staffing and recruiting. Organizations that actively contact and recruit talent before their customers need them score more business, simply by playing the “puck” the right way.

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