The NFL Draft: How can we learn from it?

3 min read

Did you know that, except for the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft is the most watched sports program of the year? Amazing. It is a three-day talent-hunting event beginning on Thursday, April 26th in Kansas City.

Exactly 224 college football players (32 teams x 7 rounds) will be selected over the next 72 hours to become part of the world’s most exclusive men’s club…the National Football League.

So exactly what is this “Draft” anyways? And why am I fixated on it each and every year? Because it is the world’s greatest Talent Hunt.

In fact, most NFL teams use an evaluation and recruiting process very similar to what we use to identify, assess, develop, and ultimately, recruit talent for our insurance clients.

Here are some similarities:

The Board: Like each NFL team, we have an evaluation board in our office which ranks all prospective candidates in the functions of Account Manager and Producer in both Commercial Lines, Personal Lines, and Employee Benefits.

We use a numbering system to rate all our candidates and, believe it or not, have a running Top Ten list in all categories. These are our “go-to” candidates when our clients call with urgent requirements. If you are reading this now, you are probably “on the board”.

The Board is contained in our own “War Room” and each candidate is assigned a unique number for confidentiality reasons. More than one client has requested special access to this room, but it is strictly off-limits.

Personality Testing: The personality profile we give to our candidates is very similar to the personality profile that the NFL uses to evaluate their “candidates” (college football players).

It measures skills, experience, and most importantly, assigns a specific value to attributes such as determination, patience, curiosity, competitiveness, work ethic, interpersonal communication skills, insight, ability and willingness to work with others, motivators and de-motivators, strengths, and weaknesses, stress points, etc.

Skills vs. Experience: We also differentiate skills from experience much like NFL teams do. Everyone knows the workout warrior in the NFL Combine who has great “skills” …you know, they can run faster, jump higher, and lift more weights than anyone else.

They rarely live up to the expectations. They are called, “Draft Busts”. I run across insurance candidates like this all the time – great degrees, many certifications, present well, but, ultimately, don’t have the right intangibles necessary to become Great. Same with experience.

Most of my clients will choose a high-energy, passionate individual with three years of experience over a highly decorated 25-year veteran who sleepwalks through the interview.

The New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens are examples of teams that take the “quantitative measurable” with a grain of salt giving more emphasis to the intangibles (attributes) and selecting the best “fit” for their football team culture and philosophy.

My clients hire me to assess based on the intangibles which is why I meet everyone before presenting to the clients. Intangibles are 90% of the match.

So what does all this mean??

It means that skills, experience, attributes, and personal presence are all factors that should be considered – holistically.

The resume? Just a piece of paper…most people are hired for what they have done, but almost everyone is fired for who they are. Think about that. It is true.

Ultimately, you as candidates, have to really put yourself in a position to work with an organization that is the best “fit” for you.

The basic skills and experience are the building blocks for sure, but always be thinking to yourself, “Is this organization the best fit for me?”

And ENJOY the NFL Draft tonight.

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