Hiring Tips from the NFL Draft

May 1, 2017

The NFL Draft – which concluded this weekend – is the ultimate hiring clinic, straight down to the sharp suits that we trick our future bosses into thinking we’ll wear to the office instead of that “Suns Out Guns Out” shirt we’ll actually wear very Friday.

Every team combs through years of a player’s game film, interviews dozens of candidates, and measures their strengths with their existing team’s needs. But the wrong hire can cause unrest, team grumbling and lost revenue.

Making the right staffing choices – in the NFL and in your company – can elevate the company to new heights while the wrong hire can drive you to pitch liquor clients to justify your drinking away the pain.

So, in order to justify my watching three straight days of the NFL Draft last weekend and billing it back to “Professional Development,” here are five lessons in hiring that we can glean from the NFL.

nfl draft


Are you filling a hole or drafting the best player available?

It’s an HR cliché: “we’re always hiring if it’s the right candidate.” Unlike the New England Patriots, this is a luxury most companies can’t afford. Most companies – like the Cleveland Browns and the quarterback position since the 1990s – are hiring to fill a gaping void. But that doesn’t mean you jump at a candidate just because you have a hole. That’s how Ryan Leaf happens. Instead, keep vetting and waiting for the right player that brings a specific capability and cultural fit to the team. Don’t be the Browns.


Make sure they are coachable.

No matter how good a player’s resume looks and their accolades before they arrived, they can always get better. All they need is the drive to be better, and that takes coaching. That’s why it’s critical to find players who are willing to study, listen, and learn. The best players in the NFL are coached on a daily basis, and it takes a certain personality to accept this direction. Instead of someone thinking they’re the best, look for someone who strives to be the best. Ask the question, “Will this person be one that will taps into other team members, does their homework and puts time in to improve themselves and the people around them?” If the answer is yes, draft them now.


Find someone who truly loves the game.

Playing the game is one thing. Loving the game is entirely different. Finding someone. We all want to get paid, but if that’s the only motivator, there’s no drive to perform above and beyond. Look for a player who bleeds for the work, not just a paycheck, and can help cultivate a culture within your company that fuels success and drives your brand forward.


Don’t be afraid to trust your gut.

You can read hundreds of kitschy hiring articles – present company excluded – that tell you the signs to look for or hacks on finding the perfect candidate. But all the so-called experts in the world together cannot beat your gut reaction in a hiring decision. Nobody knows more what your team needs than you. Resumes and interviews only go so far. You know when you click with a person and when you see that certain something in their eyes. They may look good on paper but is this person the kind of guy puts his dirty hands on all the office bagels before finally selecting one? Only your gut knows for sure.

nfl draft

Look for players who can play multiple positions.

We all have our niche but a perfect hire is someone who can wear more than one hat. Don’t bring on a player who refuses to take a turn emptying the office dish washer or who won’t jump in to help during fire drills. A great team takes people who can be adaptable and responsive to what the company (or team) needs at that time to drive success. Look for people who can jump into the game when needed, no questions asked. These employees will be your company’s Pro Bowlers.

So the next time you’re interviewing a candidate, look past their proficiencies in Excel and PowerPoint (unless they know how to make those bullets the same size), and examine someone who fits your culture, your team and your overall company needs. Only then will you find someone willing to sit through 72 hours of NFL Draft coverage to write a blog.

– Jason


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let's Work Together

Give us a holler, we'd love to connect.

Latest Tweet