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What Fantasy Football Can Teach You About Nonprofit Recruitment

Written by Evan Carper, Recruitment Manager at Commongood Careers

As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, most people in our area begin to stress about winter coats, snow days, and transportation delays. While I’m not a big fan of any of those things, the transition to fall is a sign that one of my favorite things - fantasy football - is here.

For those who aren’t familiar, fantasy football (not to be confused with Daily Fantasy Sports, which have received a lot of national attention recently) is a competition in which friends have the opportunity to join a league, participate in a “draft” in which they select NFL players, and receive points based on the performance of those players. Each year, I spend countless hours listening to podcasts, reading articles written by “experts”, and watching television shows that give tips on how to draft the perfect team.

In my role at Commongood Careers as a Recruitment Manager, my success is based upon my ability to know exactly what I’m looking for, understand the needs of the organization I’m partnering with, and find people who fit these needs. As I was conducting research for a search this past week, it hit me: building a successful fantasy football team and recruiting a strong candidate pool aren’t all that different.

In fantasy football, I’ve found that the owners who do the most research tend to be the most successful. They are able to decipher which players are poised for “breakout” years, understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team, and identify strategies that other teams are using to be successful. Something similar can be said about recruiting for the nonprofit sector. In order to fully understand the organization you’re working with, and understand the business problem a specific hire will address, research is key.

As soon as I get a search, the research begins.  First, I make sure to carve out a large chunk of time to learn as much as I can about the organization. Checking the organization’s website, reading annual reports and following the organization on social media, speaking with the hiring manager, and utilizing websites like Guidestar provide me with high level information that helps me to understand the current state of the organization. From there, it’s about accessing networks and getting in touch with possible candidates, answering any questions they have, understanding their strengths and weaknesses, learning what they are looking for in a new position, and listening for any market trends that emerge. By identifying these trends, I’m able to accurately represent the market to the organization and together we can make the pivots necessary to ensure that the strongest candidates are applying.

While fantasy football and nonprofit recruitment don’t seem similar on the surface, the success of both depends on the amount of research and ongoing information-gathering one is able to do. Without consistent research, it’s nearly impossible to develop a successful strategy, and without a successful strategy, it’s nearly impossible to succeed. Whether it’s helping great organizations make phenomenal hires or lifting the fantasy trophy over your head, don’t underestimate the importance of thorough research.