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What March Madness and Hiring Have in Common

Written by Maureen Hoersten, Chief Revenue Officer of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm

When putting together March Madness brackets, people consider factors such as school rankings, performance-based stats, wins and losses, and competitiveness of the conference. They are strategic in how they balance their brackets by comparing one team’s athletic resume to the next, or sometimes, on the flipside, they go with their gut instinct.

Much like the NCAA tournament, the hiring process has various stages and profiles to consider before hiring managers extend the offer and add a candidate to their team. Here are a few examples:

The Initial Cuts. Before the tournament even starts, teams are eliminated based on their records. The same theory should be applied when hiring. When flooded with resumes, it’s easy for hiring managers to get overwhelmed unless they are making immediate decisions on whether or not the resume makes it to the “yes” pile. The easiest way to do that is by figuring out what the position absolutely requires and base initial cuts off of that. It’s the “look” of the resume and someone’s past jobs; do they have too many previous jobs (“hoppy”), too little or not enough experience, or a certain degree? Figure out your desired “look” first.

The Underdog. In the NCAA tournament, the underdogs are the teams no one believes in solely based on their history. They are deemed incapable of winning; however, sometimes the underdog does come out on top. How? They have an X factor that brings them to the top, whether it’s drive, commitment, resilience, or some other quality. When looking at resumes, managers should take the underdog theory into consideration and look at a resume as an indicator of what a candidate can achieve in 9, 12, or 18 months. Some candidates shouldn’t be passed over simply because they don’t have enough years of experience, or has just one of the two required skills but maybe worked throughout college.  Maybe the candidate has hobbies or interests on their resume that could bring a unique perspective to the role. Sometimes “non-work” experience can be just as valuable as what the candidate did during school or volunteer work.

The Final Four. When it comes down to the second or final-round interviews, it gets tougher. The employer clearly saw something promising in each of the candidates to have asked them back, and now they’ll need to dig even deeper to find out who will come out on top when the pressure is on. During these final rounds, managers should pay attention to the questions candidates are asking. Are they repeating questions from the first interview? Are they asking questions just for the sake of asking, or are they asking smart questions, ones that took research beyond reviewing the company website? Have they become less engaged or excited since the initial meeting? Have they truly gone above and beyond to show their interest?

The Championship Game. Hiring takes a lot of effort, so when the offer is extended and accepted, hiring managers are quick to go back to their day-to-day; however, it’s important for the manager to evaluate the candidate’s strengths and plan for his or her start. Also, just as it is important to shake hands with the losing opponent, managers should call every candidate who didn’t make the final cut and explain why. Being candid with candidates will not only allow for them to grow professionally, but it will leave them with a better perception of the company.  You never know where that candidate may be next season.

As Chief Revenue Officer for LaSalle Network, Maureen Hoersten (Brown) is responsible for the oversight of new business development and client development, as well as office services and customer service recruiting. She has been instrumental in building LaSalle Network’s client base and sales programs, as well as expanding LaSalle’s suburban offices. Her role includes creating and executing sales strategies, coaching and training business development teams, project management teams, and identifying, attracting, engaging and cultivating key target clients.


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