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3 Recruiting Lessons I Learned from Playing Fantasy Football

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Erin Cushing
on September 07, 2016

It’s September, and while the calendar might say the Fall season is still a few weeks away, we may as well pull out the pumpkin spice and cableknit sweaters, because football, the unofficial harbringer of autumn, is back. The NFL season kickoff holds significant meaning to nearly 75 million Americans, who play fantasy football. The game, where a participant “drafts” NFL players to their fantasy team and scores points based upon the players’ real life game performances, generated 4.6 billion in spending last year.

Last year, I entered my first fantasy football league at the request of my boyfriend, who needed an extra player in his work league. Much to his chagrin, I proceeded to win the league championship (and bragging rights for eternity). What he chalks up to as “beginner’s luck” isn’t that at all; I simply realized that drafting a good fantasy football team requires the same type of skills as efficient, productive recruiting strategy. What fantasy football lessons can you apply to your talent acquisition strategy? Here are the three that worked for me:

Know What Your Team Needs – and What Your Competitors Need

No two fantasy football leagues are alike – the scoring formats, position restrictions, and size of your leagues will affect what type of talent you will need. Two-quarterback leagues, for example, mean that the top 20 NFL quarterbacks are now even more valuable, since you need two to directly contribute to your points total every week. This means that not only will you need at least two or three high-performing quarterbacks, everyone else in your league will as well, placing top performing quarterbacks at a premium. You’ll need to adjust your drafting strategy to protect yourself from your competitors and to secure the talent you need.

The same holds true for recruiting – in this candidate-driven market, where most highly-skilled candidates are at a premium, your organization will be competing more directly with your competitors to source and attract the same candidates. It’s important to prioritize which requisitions need to be filled first, and what elements of those requisitions are most important to source for when evaluating candidates. The ability to align your recruiting strategy to your hiring organization’s business goals is a crucial element that will improve your overall hiring success.  

Know the Value of the Talent You’re Recruiting

Not all professional football players are created equal – even when they play the same position. Knowing how valuable individual contributors are when compared to each other helps you decide at which point to draft them. For example, a wide receiver like Antonio Brown has demonstrated his value over multiple seasons, and is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. It makes sense to target him in the first round of your draft. On the flipside, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, while a reliable contributor, does not even come close to the production output of Antonio Brown. Drafting him in the first round means that you’re overvaluing him – and missing out on a better prospect.

The same idea holds true for positions as well; you can’t just compare individual players’ skills, you must also consider their total potential contributions to your team, and how they fit into your strategy. The Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski might be the best kicker in the entire league, but kickers overall add fewer points than every other offensive position. Sacrificing middle of the road to strong wide receivers, running backs or quarterbacks in order to draft him early in the process is a disservice to your entire team; he might be better at his job than those receivers, but the receivers play a more important role in advancing your entire team.

These are crucial components to your recruiting strategy; you must be able to see both the forest and the trees that make it a forest in the first place. The definition of recruiting “success” might differ across organizations, but no organization wants to overpay for average employees – or spend too much time and energy on a less strategic requisition. Knowing how you define and measure recruiting success empowers you to create a recruiting strategy that will help you focus on which roles to fill first, and on which candidates to target for those roles.

Have a Plan B – and C

You can’t always get what you want, especially in fantasy football. While you might go into your draft with a dream list of players you’d like on your team, you should never have a pre-set intention of drafting a specific player. Too many things can happen in a draft – that player could have gotten hurt in a pre-season game, limiting his ability to contribute to your team. Another team owner could draft him before you can. You might need to adapt your strategy based on what happens during the live draft process. There are too many unknowns to put all of your eggs in one basket. Instead, you should have lists of players by position that can benefit your team; that way, you have a pool of pre-vetted players to choose from when the time comes.

The same tenement holds true for recruiting. This is a fast-moving job market, where candidates do not remain for long. Creating talent pools of talented, pre-vetted candidates based upon skills or other qualifications, empowers you to move quickly when a requisition opens up – or when a candidate with whom you were working is hired by another organization. Make sure you are empowered by your talent acquisition solution to create talent pools, and to create them based upon any combination of factors – by sourcing channel, by skillset, by job role. These pools allow you to recruit more quickly and effectively – two things every recruiter strives for.

Unfortunately for fantasy football team owners, successfully adhering to these principles and successfully managing a winning team requires a lot of manual work. With help from the right recruiting technology, recruiters can efficiently and effectively serve their hiring organizations. Learn why PeopleFluent’s talent acquisition technology is so powerful at improving recruiter speed and productivity – join us for a demo of our award-winning solution on 09/13. Register here

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