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  • Brett Zalaski

#SportsBiz Recruiting in '21/'22: It's Time to Get Uncomfortable


As a leader in #sportsbiz, I'd be lying if I said my recruiting was anything really but whatever showed up on TeamworkOnline. I was incredibly proud to be part of innovations on it (videos at MLSNSC & sales combines at the Crew)...but let's not pretend those were pushing the envelope compared to how other organizations outside of sports recruited. We were sports. We could let people come to us.


That's not totally the case in 2021, heading into 2022. There's an 18-month gap in the workforce. The sexiness of sports has been mitigated by an internet that puts young potentials in front of jobs outside of sports that pay more and have better hours. Teams are seeing 10-25% of the qualified candidates they were seeing for jobs historically. This hiring gap and other challenges in the modern age will have a long drag on the industry if we don't go from defensive in how we recruit, to offensive.


At #ISBIVSN (isbivsn.com for those who don't know!) we know that people would rather go work directly for a pro sports team to start. We get it...we know our role and the opportunity we provide. For a first time in my recruiting career, I've had to be really proactive in our approach. Here are a couple things we've learned:

  • TWOL still rules...but complement it cheaply: TWOL is still a need-to-have in the industry...but we've also found a TON of success with paid LinkedIn (~$360 for an 8-day posting) and ZipRecruiter (~$280 per month). We've also found solid success with referrals from past graduates/current salespeople. You may have to spend some more $$$'s, but diversifying the way you bring in candidates is critical to a robust pool of applicants.

  • It's worth it to track them down: I've never seen a generation of interviewees who are more flaky. Not showing up for interviews, showing up late for interviews, questioning areas of your business, asking a billion questions, delaying their decision, etc. But those that continue to engage you along the way? When you track them down, they tend to work out. There are a lot of options out there these days...and, more than ever, talented people understand their worth and want to be wooed. Don't be afraid to engage, track down, and woo. Remember, that if you are diversifying the way you drive talent, these people often haven't thought about sports as a career...you may have to go earn their working for you. Don't be too proud...there are GREAT candidates out there.

  • What are we looking for from a candidate?: Some of our best interviews didn't even show up for the first day of training. Some of our most challenging interviews have gone on to be super successful sellers for us. Some people are built for interviewing well...and some aren't. We've found out that interviewing well has almost ZERO correlation to future sales success. Look for people who have a proactive sales background. Look for people with a demonstrated history of trying things and finishing projects. Interview for instances where one created a solution from a challenging circumstance. Look for a demonstrated track record of success...not someone who speaks good or has a TONOFENERGY!!!

I'm still a true believer that teams win with people. Period. #SportsBiz has been able to play defense for a while, and let reps come to them...but it's time to start fighting for top talent. Playing just a little bit of offense can yield incredible results. Fifty-Two (52!!!!) of our reps have now found full-time employment in pro sports in just the last ten months. The numbers don't lie...offense works.