5 Winning Recruiting Tips to Get You Out of the March Madness

March is a long-awaited time for many. It’s a time when sports fans and non-sports fans alike band together to join the office pools. Confidence brackets come together in anticipation of “I’m going to take it all this year!”, Until the little school you never heard of achieves a surprise against your winning team. The March Madness is called “March Madness” because anything can happen in the NCAA March Madness tournament.

But what exactly defines a winning team? How do some of the teams you’ve never heard of go out to beat the favorite team? As recruiters, there are some characteristics that can be learned from the winning teams in the March Madness tournament. From strategy to determination, to finishing in the final moments, we’ll delve into each of these winning playbook characteristics and more to learn how you can be a winning recruiter.

  1. Strategy

As teams prepare to face their opponents in the tournament, they study video footage, practice plays, and come up with an overall strategy to defeat the other team. Similarly, with each new job order, recruiters must come up with a winning strategy to find the perfect candidate for their client in a timely manner. In the same way that players study old images of their opponent, you can start by taking a look at similar positions that you have recruited for in the past to see successful ways in which you have found candidates. You may already have some candidates in the pipeline from the last time that might be suitable for this position.

Winning players also try to “visualize their game.” In their head, they see themselves dribbling past opponents, scoring points, and making game-winning shots. All the best athletes, not just college basketball players, envision their game and science has shown that this mental strategy can really work. While recruiters can certainly envision themselves finding a candidate their client would never have dreamed of, recruiters must more of visualize your action plan and write it down.

Some important points to consider when developing a strategy and action plan to complete your work order:

  • Where will you promote the work? Will you use Indeed®, CareerBuilder®, LinkedIn®? What is the best platform for this particular job order to find the best candidates?

  • What type of candidates will you target? What experience will you be looking for? What skills should they have?

  • How can you use your ATS to find candidates? Often times, you can immediately fall back on finding new candidates, yet your ATS can host hundreds or even thousands of candidates right in front of you. As soon as you determine the types of candidates you are looking for, you can use the search capabilities in your ATS to specifically search for those types of candidates.

  • Do you already have a portfolio of candidates for a similar job that you were recruiting for in the past? As in the previous point, it is not always necessary to invent the wheel! Check to see if you already have a handful of qualified candidates that you vetted before for a similar position. If so, these candidates would be a good place to start.

  • Planning to put together an email campaign for this position, followed by a call? As you search for potential candidates in your ATS, you can add them to a designated pipeline to make it easier for them to be included in an email or call campaign.

Crafting your strategy and the steps on how you are going to carry out that strategy is the first step to getting the perfect location! As Bobby Knight, former head coach of the Indiana University Hoosiers (1971-2000) said, “The will to succeed is important, but the most important thing is the will to prepare.”

  1. Leadership and teamwork

All winning teams have a leader. Whether it’s a particular coach on a team, a player, or even both, all successful teams have leaders who guide the team in executing its strategy to victory. This also includes teamwork. Leaders are not braggarts trying to do everything themselves. They work with their team to take home a victory!

As a recruiter, you are the leader of every work order. You are in charge not only of carrying out your strategy, but of “leading” a successful team. With each work order, you may not traditionally work with one team, but there may be others you can work with to help fill the position. Is there someone in the industry that you have a connection with who might know someone for the position or who can help publicize it? Or maybe there is someone in your staffing agency who has held similar positions in the past. Work with them to see if they can offer any advice; they may even refer you to someone for the position. Using your contacts can be extremely beneficial for recruitment. As I always like to say, “Teamwork makes dreams work!”

Teamwork can also come from the client side. At first, you want to have a complete understanding of the type of candidate the client is looking for. You will also want to receive any questions you have answered. After that, it is important to maintain a good relationship throughout the process so that they have the confidence that you are the right person to find their candidate. If all goes well, they will want to work with you in the future!

  1. Communication

Communication on and off the court is key to a winning team. Off the court, the team must clearly communicate the game plan so that all players know what their role is in the next plays. Communication on the court is so important to communicate what you are seeing on the court, what play you are executing, and more.

Effective communication is also extremely important to recruiters. When introducing candidates to your clients, you need to find the best way to introduce and “sell” them so that your client knows why they should consider this person for the position. Similarly, when talking to candidates, you need to present the job in a way that interests them in the position so that they want to learn more. Both of these initial communications are critical to getting the conversation started right. You should be prepared to know what to say, how to say it, and the best format to present it (phone call, video call, screen sharing, email, etc.)

By communicating regularly with candidates, you should also find out what is the best mode of communication for them. Is it email, text message, phone call? Once you start an initial conversation with an interested candidate, find out the best way to reach them. That will make both your life and theirs easier. Slow response time can often be avoided, as long as you communicate in the best way for them to provide a timely response.

Video interviews are also a form of communication that has become popular during the pandemic. Some recruiters may not yet feel comfortable doing a video interview, however, it is as if you are conducting an in-person interview. The only difference is that the interview is conducted virtually. Recruiters want to have their usual interview questions ready, dress professionally, and have the right background / lighting. Before the candidate participates in the interview, make sure your sound and visual are working. You may also want to provide specific instructions to the interviewee on how to join the video interview and connect to the audio / visual. Even if it sounds straightforward, sending instructions ahead of time can help ensure that it runs smoothly and without technical difficulties. The first interview with the candidate is like his “first impression”. While they may be nervous about making a good first impression with you, you also want to make a good first impression with them. If the interview doesn’t go smoothly or seems unprofessional, they may not be interested in working with you in the future.

Effective communication throughout the hiring process is essential to bring you closer to winning your perfect recruit!

  1. Determination

Never giving up is a trait that all winning NCAA teams have. No matter how many points they are down, they are determined to keep fighting because the game never ends until the end. Anything can happen And we’ve certainly experienced it while watching March Madness! Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, once said, “The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.”

The same can be applied to recruitment. You may not find the perfect candidate at first and experience ups and downs, but you need to stay positive and keep looking. It’s easy to get discouraged if we fail, but staying determined to find the right candidate will help you be successful in the long run.

If you start to get discouraged, take a step back and see what might not be working and how you can solve it. Are you having trouble finding the right candidate? Are they losing some of their skill set that the client wants? Are you close to completing the work order, but the candidate won’t accept the offer? Analyze what is happening and the ways you can find a solution to take over the game!

  1. Ending in the final moments

Similarly to the above, we have all seen matches where teams have lost 20 points and miraculously returned to be tied in the final moments. Or maybe it’s a nail biting game until the last seconds! March Madness is known for its “ringing wins.” Anxiety fills us as we sit on the edge of our capes hoping that our team will be the one to achieve victory. How can teams “finish” in the final seconds? It can be out of a team’s control at times, but there are also ways to prepare for these moments when you’re “tied at 88 with 5 seconds left.” One way is to practice for ringing moments and have a game plan when they happen.

For recruiters, the “win with the buzzer” is when the candidate shows up on the first day! You found the perfect candidate, the offer was accepted, and they arrive at work on the first day. Hurrah !!!


But as recruiters, they often know that even if a candidate accepts the offer, it doesn’t mean they’ll show up on the first day! Why did this happened? What makes a candidate “ghost” him? It can be due to a number of reasons, but one way to help prevent it is tests ways to prevent it. Check out our article, “Has Your Candidate Become a Ghost? Become a Ghostbuster” for tips and best practices to avoid being a ghost. Once you discover the best practices and testing methods for removing ghosting, you can finish more of those shots with the buzzer ring to win!

The March Madness teams are relentless and all have the drive to be the NCAA March Madness Tournament Champion! As you can see, there is a lot we can learn from these teams about strategy, leadership and teamwork, communication, determination, and final seconds completion. So get out there, bring this recruiting manual with you, and become a recruiting champion!

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