About 11 years ago, my son, Chase, made the decision to focus solely on tennis. He stopped playing soccer and baseball. He had already quit basketball – borderline blasphemy in our house. Fast forward to today, Chase is entering his second college tennis season at Piedmont College.
How did Chase go from being a basketball drop-out (sorry, that’s still a touchy subject) to a college athlete? First, it took a lot of dedication and hard work on his part. Then, he had to be noticed and recruited to a college program. That second part is where I will focus since this process has a direct correlation to what we do as recruiters.
Chase was being recruited by several colleges in the northeastern US. He was also being recruited by a college about an hour from our house, let’s call it ‘First Choice College’ (the names have been changed to protect the innocent). He decided that this would be the college for him and met with the tennis coach, let’s call him ‘Coach C’. Chase scheduled an official visit and planned to attend First Choice College.
End of story, right?
Wrong! Before Chase’s official visit, he continued to play in junior tournaments. He invited Coach C. to come to watch him in the tournaments. Coach C. would occasionally show up, watch for a few minutes, and then leave. But then at one of Chase’s tournaments, a young man introduced himself – Trey Martin, the Assistant Tennis Coach/Recruiter for Piedmont College. He came to other tournaments and stayed in touch. Long story short: Chase changed his mind and signed to play tennis for Piedmont College.
How did Coach Martin successfully turn a connection into a commitment from Chase?
I see three things that Trey did exceptionally well that I can take away to help me in recruiting:
I. Fish in the right body of water!
First, you must go where your candidates are. If you are fishing for sharks, you wouldn’t want to throw a line into a freshwater pond. You would go to the ocean, get on a boat, and fish with a bait that sharks are attracted to.
It’s the same with candidates. Think about where your target candidate population hangs out. Think about websites that they frequent. Consider any groups or organizations that they may belong to. Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Post on trade websites. Go to where your target candidates hang out!
II. “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
Carl Buechner’s words ring true with recruiting. To recruit someone, make them feel wanted. This is especially true with passive candidates. That feeling starts with building a relationship. We must show the candidate that they are important to us by showing interest and engaging the candidate in conversation. Craft authentic emails and build effective voicemail scripts that make the candidate feel wanted, and reach out often.
Follow up and follow through. Focus on the win/win – show the candidate the opportunity available for them.
III. “Being willing is not enough. We must do!”
Leonardo da Vinci could have been talking about recruiting (and there’s really no way to prove otherwise). We must show a sense of urgency. It’s not enough to want the candidate, we must make it happen. I believe that Coach C. wanted Chase to play on his tennis team at First Choice College, but he didn’t show the sense of urgency that Trey demonstrated. Trey was proactive and got things done, NOW!
Reach out and respond to candidates quickly. If we don’t, another recruiter will – and that recruiter will win.
When it’s all said and done recruiting is a lot like dating: make all the right moves, make the candidate feel wanted, build a relationship – and do it fast or I will move in and take the candidate away from you.