What businesses can learn from college football recruiting

National Signing Day for the NCAA College Football Season is Wednesday, Feb. 1. While we aren’t here to talk about the top recruits and their school of choice, there is a lot we can learn from National Signing Day and the college recruiters. There’s an interesting correlation between the intangible qualities a head football coach for a top D-1 program looks for in his next great team leader and that which a corporate recruiter looks for when hiring for a C-level executive position. 

Here are things college coaches look for in a top recruit and ways this can apply to your business: 


There are certain uncoachable qualities that the best athletes have. This includes things like speed, situational awareness and strength. These are things that immediately shoot a prospect to the top of your list. He’s got the talent to perform at the top level, but is this the most important quality?

What businesses can learn from this: When you look at a person’s qualifications, there are immediate indicators that show you that this candidate is “fit” for this position. But just because someone may be technically proficient at something doesn’t mean they have the ability to lead or that they are a fit for your team culture. 

Character/Culture fit

Coaches need to make sure that you will be a good representation of the college when you arrive. So, they will look outside of your physical attributes and skills. They’ll look at your transcripts and resumes and see what other activities you participate in. 

What businesses can learn from this: What are some things you do to identify whether or not someone is a culture fit? Businesses need to understand their company’s values and how to identify whether or not someone aligns with those beliefs. It’s important to reach out to references, and look at other things they may include on a resume that helps you understand the person and their values.

Work ethic

Coaches need athletes who have great work ethics. The goal isn’t just to land a spot on a team, it’s to progress and win championships. Players have to compete for their roster spots and a lot of that comes down to each individual’s work ethic.

What businesses can learn from this: Employees with strong work ethics know that learning is an ongoing process. They have the desire to progress and advance their careers. These are candidates who understand their strengths and aren’t afraid to admit their weaknesses. During the interview process, ask job candidates about their goals and look at career progression within their company as well as corporate recognitions. 

Leadership skills

Not everyone has the ability to lead or be led by others. These are things that coaches are looking for in top recruits. They need to find someone who is a motivator, an encourager, and someone who is adaptable and possesses the qualities that make others want to follow them to victory. They look to find someone who doesn’t focus on any individual achievements, but on the greater achievement and goals of the team.

What businesses can learn from this

These are the qualities businesses should be looking at when recruiting as well. Businesses need to find candidates who, if they were to leave their job tomorrow, people would follow them wherever they choose to go. You’re looking for someone who shows courage and is driven, someone who is a motivator, and who focuses on a team’s success, not just an individual’s success. You’re looking for a leader worth following, and every interview you conduct should focus on finding the right person who fits that mold. Ask a candidate if anyone has followed them to their next company.

Finding the right leaders worth following is tough, but if you already have in your mind the attributes needed to perform at the highest possible level, then it’s easier to quickly discern different candidates and find exactly what you need. Read more about how we partner with our clients to help them find that right leader worth following who can change their business!