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What the NFL Can Teach Businesses About Hiring



Every April the National Football League (NFL) hosts a draft where each NFL team gets to pick from a pool of the best college players. It’s basically a job fair for professional athletes. The best of the best show up, and like with any business, picking the right person, whether they’re a quarterback or software engineer, is the end goal. If your business is looking to attract and evaluate talent, you might want to consider hiring employees the same way NFL teams draft players.

Invest in Identifying Talent

NFL teams spend months scouting college players to identify top talent. Entire departments are dedicated to finding the best running back or tight end. Small businesses should invest in evaluating talent as well. Proactively seeking out individuals with the skills and potential to excel in their roles is what the NFL does best.

Instead of waiting for candidates to apply, consider actively recruiting talent through networking, referrals, paid internships, or industry and college events. This proactive approach can help small businesses attract top performers before a competitor can snag them.

Focus on Potential

Just as NFL teams look for players with the potential to develop into star athletes, small businesses should identify employees who demonstrate a willingness to learn, adapt, and take on new challenges. Consider candidates’ career aspirations, their background, and what they can bring to the team. Just like the New England Patriots found Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, if your business focuses on an employees’ potential, you may just find a diamond in the rough.

Keep an Eye on Team Chemistry

Whether on the football field or in the office, no one wants to work with a diva. Team chemistry is a critical factor in the success of any organization. Small businesses should prioritize cultural fit when evaluating candidates to ensure they align with the company’s values, mission, and work culture. Look for candidates who share compatible values, a strong work ethic, and a passion for the company’s goals. Building a cohesive team with shared goals and vision can foster collaboration, morale, and overall success.

Use Data to Evaluate Talent

To get an idea of how players will perform, the NFL runs them through a maze of physical and mental tasks. 40 yard dash times, max bench presses, and mental evaluations like the Wonderlic test can reveal an athlete’s potential. Each team relies on this data to inform their draft decisions.

Small businesses should take a page out of the NFL’s playbook and use data-driven insights to evaluate potential employees’ performance, as well as identify areas for improvement. Hiring a developer? Have them build an app. Need a writer? Give them a blog topic and a deadline. Making informed decisions before pulling the trigger on a hire will pay dividends down the line.

Embrace Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion have become increasingly important for the NFL and its brand. Business owners should learn from this movement by actively promoting a diverse and inclusive work environment. Thinking about, taking action on, and embracing a diverse workforce not only enhances creativity and innovation, it also fosters a culture of belonging where all employees can feel heard, seen, and are given a place where they can thrive. Focusing on hiring employees who come from different backgrounds and have unique experiences will pay dividends going forward.

Whether or not your business decides to incorporate NFL-style hiring methods, don’t forget to trust your instincts when evaluating a candidate. All the data-driven evaluations can’t replace your gut feeling on a potential hire and if they’re right for the job, and your company.

While Northwest can’t improve your max bench press, your 40 yard dash, or help you hire the right employees, we can show you how to start a business, get a website and domain, and help you maintain your privacy through it all.

This entry was posted in Opinion.