Skip to main content

Recruitment, the Game of Connections

By October 24, 2013No Comments

Being a keen sports fan (and clumsily participating in some too), it has always struck me throughout my sales and recruitment career how parallel the two worlds of sport and sales/recruitment are.  The goal-setting, the competition, the teamwork, the emotion, the motivation, the management and the ups and downs of victories and failures.

This was emphasised in hugely entertaining fashion by John Kirwan, head coach of the Auckland Blues, who spoke to a clutch of Auckland recruiters at a breakfast presentation kindly laid on by TradeMe Jobs earlier this week.  I’m not sure if his presentation was specifically tailored to be of relevance to the recruitment industry (I doubt it was) but the inspiration and insight to be gained from his story of turning around a bitter, broken, negative culture into one of positivity, boldness and success was immense.

There were many points to glean inspiration for us in our industry:  Working out what motivates different people, celebrating successes, leading not following (sounds a bit like another corporate maxim from some bank or other).  But the one that really stood out for me was “A Fan A Day”.

One of the biggest problems facing John Kirwan in his mission to rejuvenate the Blues is the swathes of empty seats at Eden Park for their home games.  This is the best quality club rugby on show anywhere in the world, but there remains a wider disconnect between the city and its team.  Kirwan himself is an Aucklander and staunch Blues fan, bust most of our city’s inhabitants are not.  A forest of arms shot into the air when he asked the room who was not born in Auckland.  Our city does not have the tribalism, the familial roots, the traditional supporter base of other rugby provinces.  So he told his squad of 48 players that if each of them won a new fan every day, compelled one more person each day to attend the next home game, that over the course of a year would equate to another 17,000 seats filled at Eden Park.

I like this because it is the type of goal that positively affects the behaviour of professional sportsmen off the field as well as on it.  No more elite aloofness, or living in some bubble.  This is a goal to encourage players to really connect with their fan base and it is the connection that is really missing between Auckland’s rugby team and its fans.

Connecting is, of course, what we in recruitment are all about.  This idea, this philosophy, of winning over a Fan A Day could work wonders within recruitment teams.  The parallels for internal corporate recruitment teams is obvious.  Something as simple and powerful as this is mana to the many stuttering employee referral programmes out there.  Imagine the talent pipelines and communities you could build with an organisation all pulling in that same kind of direction.

The application to the agency recruitment world is perhaps less obvious.  But then maybe that is just because we have always set one goal in agency recruitment: BILLINGS.  Sure, some firms construct frameworks of other sales activity targets around this such as marketing calls, client visits and CV send-outs but most of you know well and good that these are only looked at in the event of low billing months.  How positive a change would it be for us in agency recruitment if we focused instead on KPI’s such as every consultant winning over one fan each day?  Whether that be some candidate feedback, a LinkedIn recommendation, or some client praise, this is the kind of KPI that can set an agency apart.

It might sound wishy-washy to some of you standard-bearers of traditional agency chest-thumping but give it a go.  It might start to change the perception of what drives us in agency recruitment and trust me, the BILLINGS will follow as a result anyway.

Thanks again to John Kirwan and TradeMe Jobs for an excellent presentation.  If you have any doubt about the guy’s ability to generate a positive, motivated, energised culture, look only to the fact he had the entire room up and dancing together to the song “How Bizarre”.  For two minutes.  It was a beautiful thing.  So I leave you today with a new song, to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory“:

“…Internal and Agency

Dance together in

Perfect harmony…”

Nice one JK.  Have a great long weekend everyone.


Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.