What HR can learn from football recruiters

by Sarah Megginson29 Sep 2014
HR professionals can learn from football recruiters, who seek one over-riding quality when drafting new players: strong character.
“Today more than ever, the character of a person who is a potential employee is sharply in focus,” said Martin Nally, managing director of hranywhere.
“Recently in the Australian Football League draft, the recruiters were all asked what they were looking for. We may have expected to hear answers about athletic ability, agility and speed, but the recruiters all talked about looking for strong character. Young athletes, they said, would all need to have wonderful athleticism ­– but what would set the potential stars apart would be their proven and known character.”
Essentially, they were seeking “fabulously gifted athletes that were fundamentally good people”, Nally said; “The type who would not cause the club’s employing them any grief off the field.”
“They looked then at the whole person. They assessed the whole person. They recruited the whole person,” he said.
“As managers and leaders, we must find ways to assess the whole person, answering the call to find a right fit in all areas, not just qualifications and skills.”
Recruiters should remain aware of what can and cannot be asked about a person’s private life, Nally added, to avoid straying into an area of discrimination.
“But it is still appropriate to delve deep into what a person thinks and feels, to ensure that we are appropriately matching this person with the beliefs and ideals of our organisation,” he added.
“In 1966 my Irish Catholic Dad showed me an advert for The Hobart Savings Bank. It had the caption, ‘Catholics need not apply’. We have come a long way in 48 years, but we should still be empowered to ask people’s points of view without offending.”
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