The Four Downs of Recruiting

Posted by Mike Villafranca on Feb 1, 2017 5:03:44 PM

In honor of what is unquestionably the greatest annual event on the secular calendar, the upcoming rendition of which features a typically corrupt group of Yankees seeking once again to defeat (by any means necessary, as is typical of these scoundrels) a valiant and long suffering group of heroes from America’s heartland, this blog will make a clumsy attempt to compare good recruiting practices to a set of downs.


First Down

The first play of any drive offers a multitude of possibilities. On one hand, the traditional first down running play establishes a cadence, introduces the defense to the ferocity of the offensive line, and sets the tone for the rest of the series. On the other hand, a more risky pass might surprise a defense loading the box and grant the offense a homerun, if the offense is inclined to mix metaphors.

In the same way, most recruiters should consider the first stages of a new search a good time to play it safe, establish rapport with the hiring manager, and lay the groundwork for a successful project by doing the hard work, the sourcing, as soon as possible. Perhaps, on occasion, a good database, the right introduction at the right time, or a lucky first contact will grant a recruiter a hole-in-one and a more deeply muddled metaphor.



Second Down

This is where it gets interesting. Second and six, because you wisely drafted a powerhouse runner out of Ohio State fourth overall, or second and 20 because even a young, upstart MVP candidate at quarterback can’t save you when you’re penalized 147 times in a season? Incidentally, ‘most penalties’ is not the record you want.

A recruiter’s job also gets interesting after a hiring manager reviews the first round of candidates. With hard work and a little luck, you’ll have a couple candidates scheduled for first round interviews, you’ll better understand the requirement, and you can focus on what’s working. But if the first round of candidates are all rejected like a running back stuffed at the line, then it’s time to reassess the game plan.


Third Down

Let’s just hope we’re talking about New Orleans and not – angels and ministers of grace defend us – L.A.

If, as a recruiter, you’ve gone through the first round of submittals, revised your search to find more qualified candidates, and you’re still not at a metaphorical easy-to-convert third and one, then perhaps it’s time to bring your manager to the mound so  he can have another recruiter tag in to help you avoid a gutterball.



Fourth Down

Punt, kick a field goal, or show the world what you’re made of and go for it in your own territory. Do the thing where Mike Tomlin goes for two after the first touchdown because of data, or something.

As a recruiter, perhaps it’s time to reassess where your strengths are and focus in that area, like the Texans punting for the eighth time because their defense scores more than their quarterback. If you’re a great sales recruiter struggling to fill a technical position, consider talking to your manager about home field advantage, or something.


Conclusion, or: A Retraction

It appears that the analogy between recruiting and football is strained, like the lower back of an offensive lineman who didn’t stretch. Having demonstrated the futility of the comparison, I will admit that the true purpose of this blog is to declare Boston College alum Matt Ryan a national treasure.



Sharpen your recruiting skills by reading these resources:


Need help sourcing better candidates and making great hires?

Contact Hub

Topics: Hiring, Recruiting, Talent Acquistion