We all know that the stakes are sky high when it comes to making new hires and bringing fresh talent into an organization. So the question often becomes how can we screen for the best fit. Yes, you can tell a lot from someone's resume and experience. But how do you know what really makes them tick?
One place to look for answers is to find out whether someone is or was an athlete. Specifically, find out if your candidate played a sport at a high level in high school, college, or beyond. If they did, they may just be who you are looking for. Let me explain.
By their very nature, accomplished athletes are disciplined and driven. If someone played a varsity sport in college, they were essentially working a full time job -- upward of 60 hours a week spent on the practice field and in the weight room -- on top of tackling their class work. The time management and discipline these folks employ to get things done is simply amazing. And that's a skill any company could benefit from.
Athletes are also driven to perform at a high level. They choose to compete and spend the extra time honing their abilities to put them in the best position to win. Again, those are the kinds of attributes most organizations would just about kill for.
To be fair, I'm not saying that you should hire only athletes for your business. (Though I do know of a company who does -- and they have doubled their sales every year since they started doing so). Even non-athletes can have extremely valuable skills and perform at high levels.
My point is that when it comes to considering your next hire, think about what the job requirements are and see if a former athlete might just be the perfect fit.
When assessing the needs of your position, you can actually consider two different categories of athletes: those who thrived in individual sports like wrestling, pole vault, or tennis -- or those who played team sports like soccer, baseball, and volleyball. You'll find there are personality differences there that can help influence your decision.
Consider a sport like wrestling. No, not the entertainment version involving folks like Hulk Hogan. I'm talking about the kind of wrestling you'll find in the Olympics. It turns out that wrestlers make amazing hires. Why? Because they not only have the discipline and the drive, they also love a challenge and hate to lose. Think about it: wrestlers go into a bout against someone who is about the same weight, height, and skill level, and then have to find a way to win in full view of a crowd of spectators. There is nowhere to hide and no excuses if you do lose. Tennis players are similar: they take full accountability for the result of their match.
Now think about how that kind of personality would fit in your organization. Wouldn't you like to have that kind of drive and accountability for results in, say, your sales team? I know I would.
Athletes who played team sports like soccer and baseball share the same passion to win as wrestlers do. Only they enjoy winning more as part of a team. And in many cases, these athletes can play a key role in the success of their team without necessarily being a star performer on their own. Think about a great soccer midfielder who sets up her teammates for easy goals with laserlike passes. Or the baseball infielder who sacrifices his at-bat to put runners in scoring position -- giving his teammates the chance to be the real heroes. Great team players just think differently because they're willing to sacrifice their personal benefit for the good of the team. You'll even find that such a player can have the best game his life -- like the outfielder who hits three booming home runs -- but, because the team loses, find no joy in his individual accomplishment.
Think about the perfect roles these kinds of athletes might fill in your organization. Maybe it's someone in a customer service or sales support role. Or maybe it's someone who could excel as part of an R&D or marketing team, where success depends on combined output. The point is that these athletes have a valuable psychological skill set you can use just about anywhere in your organization.
The key takeaway here is that when it comes to assessing who might make the best fit for your next open position, think about whether you have enough wrestlers or soccer players in your organization. You might be missing out on some big wins if you don't.