Recruitment Strategies for Professional Services: 5 Tips from Sports and Entertainment

February 23, 2018

Can a law firm copy recruitment strategies from professional sports teams? Can accountants learn how to find top talent from show business?

Professional services firms might not naturally think of following in the footsteps of sports and Hollywood. But these industries often find their best employees in ways that could be helpful.

We’re in a competitive climate for standout workers, and innovative recruitment strategies can make all the difference in finding and keeping the best employees — whether they’re licensed professionals or key support staff.

Consider director George Lucas, who chatted with an on-set carpenter and eventually let the handyman audition for an upcoming film. The carpenter turned out to be Harrison Ford, who landed the role of Han Solo in the “Star Wars” films.

Steal a few pages from the HR playbooks of professions that are wildly different from yours. You probably won’t find an attorney doing woodwork, but new approaches could help you find your organization’s next star.

1. Look in Unexpected Places

Sports and entertainment talent scouts always have their eyes open, no matter where they are. Not every star basketball prospect plays on the best teams and not every attorney works at a law firm — nor every doctor at a hospital or private practice.

Sometimes, professionals follow a different path to seek greater career fulfillment.

Nonprofit organizations are one such landing spot for medical, legal and accounting professionals. Star professionals might have joined to contribute to a good cause, but might be ready to try or resume a career at a for-profit company. Reach out to contacts at nonprofits. Get to know professionals at nonprofits you support — they might want to try something new someday.

Also, take note of a retail clerk who provides exceptional service, or a barista who always remembers your name and order. Many have degrees and ambition, and you’re seeing firsthand the work ethic and star quality that could translate to your organization. Could there be a place for them somewhere in your organization?

2. Focus on Attitudes and Interests

Just because a candidate didn’t attend a top school doesn’t mean she can’t become a valued employee. Recruitment strategies have focused too much on where people went to school over what they bring to the situation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Non-traditional industries look at candidates differently. Focus more on whether candidates can think on their feet and solve problems.

Southwest Airlines reaches out to talented candidates who have the experience and personalities to fill the key roles they need, regardless of alma mater. The airline’s motto: “Hire for attitude and train for skills.”

3. Fish Where the Fish Are

Many traditional HR departments use social media as a primary recruitment tool. Non-traditional industries also seek outlets where ideal candidates might congregate.

The Harvard Business Review suggests sites like Stack Overflow for attracting programmers, The Muse for reaching millennial women, and Doximity for connecting with U.S. physicians. Jump on these types of sites and look for people who will engage in smart conversations about your profession.

If you’re looking for a graphic designer, consider attending a local design-focused meetup as part of your recruitment strategies. Or sponsor an event your target audience is likely to attend. Don’t only wait for candidates to come to you. Find them.

4. Consider High School Students

Just as sports scouts check out high school games for the next star athlete, many corporations have discovered the advantages of building mentoring relationships with teenagers. Companies award summer internships to high school graduates to give them a taste of the profession they’re eyeing — and to also build their brand with teens who will one day have to decide where to apply.

Many motivated teenagers actually start their professional journeys in high school, looking to get work experience so they can impress college admissions departments.

They’ll be ideal workers not just for one summer, but possibly for many years to come.

5. Build Long-Term Relationships

The entertainment industry has a constant need for talent. As a result, some recruiters develop long-term relationships with a diverse pool of candidates they can tap when needed.

Similarly, your recruitment strategies might include proactively developing relationships with passive candidates, those who are currently employed but might consider a new opportunity if it presented itself. Build a list of dream candidates from past applicants, referrals, former employees, third-party resources and industry superstars.

Cultivate relationships with the people on this list who might come on board on day.

Recruitment Strategies: Summary

Don’t wait for the best candidates to come to you.

Non-traditional industries use active, assertive recruitment tactics that can help any professional services recruitment strategy.

To succeed in the highly competitive recruiting race, you’ll have to be as creative as the superstars themselves.

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