The NFL holds its annual draft this evening.  Since the final gun of the Super Bowl in February, most fans have read  countless “Mock drafts” predicting each team’s selections. What amazes most observers each year is how the ratings of many players rise and fall during the months leading up to the draft, especially since no prospect has played a down of football in a real game since early January at the latest. NFL coaches, scouts and general managers say that between a prospect’s final college game and decisions to draft a player, an incredible amount of research is conducted on each individual.  Understandable given the financial investment teams make in players. However, many teams report that the volume of information received often makes decisions much more difficult. Another challenge is predicting how a player will adjust to the NFL, an entirely different game and environment from college football. Add to all these the pressure on decision makers. Legions of fans demand instant success, and in a world of high (and often unrealistic) expectations, a mistake in the draft can easily cost a coach, scout or general manager his job.

While signs of improvement in the hiring picture slowly continue throughout early 2011, many job seekers continue to report frustration with the length and complexity of hiring processes. Odd as this might sound, I think some parallels exist in modern hiring and the NFL draft. Think about the following factors:

Candidate Information Overload – In the past, employers would interview candidates one to two times, conduct telephone reference checks and verify employment. Now the process of hiring includes reviewing all information gathered about a candidate’s online presence. This obviously adds to the time required to evaluate candidates, plus many hiring managers report it doesn’t always make selections easier.

Brand New Positions and Rolls – While hiring has picked up, many companies continue to operate in a “more with less” mindset. As a result, many new positions may combine parts of two or more previous titles and functions.  Finding candidate capable of these multiple roles often proves more difficult than anticipated.

Pressure.  One reality about many new positions in 2011, for many companies the need likely has existed for quite some time. Add to this the situations where the new employee will serve multiple roles. A candidate in this scenario likely needs to convince more than one hiring manager about his or her ability to satisfy each of their existing needs. Under any circumstance, this presents quite a challenge.  Now factor in that since late 2008, companies have read how it’s an employer’s market, and they hold all the trump cards. This easily leads to an expectation that the ideal candidate/immediate problem solver/savior will soon walk through their door. 

Well, experienced recruiters will tell you that actual “saviors” come along about as frequently as Quarterbacks selected #1 in the NFL draft that go on to win Super Bowls ( Current count is 6 or 7 in 40+ years- depending on how you rate Drew Bledsoe riding the bench in a Super Bowl win). Unfortunately, like rabid fans, many hiring managers want to believe that their savior is just around the corner, and will hold out through each candidate waiting to be blown away. Add to this quandary the situations where multiple hiring managers each impose their own concept of the ideal candidate. Do we get a picture as to why hiring decisions remain convoluted?

My advice to candidates is to be patient. Rather than allowing this process to frustrate you (and risk displaying this when dealing with an employer), try to understand the process from a hiring manager’s point of view. The more you focus on a hiring manager’s needs, better the chances are the information you present will be focus on these needs. This will increase your chances of catching a hiring manager’s attention in a competitive labor market.



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