The first quarter of every year is always an odd, mixed bag in the world of recruiting. Generally, January and February are slow months for new hires as teams launch their annual plans. Most firms have put key personnel into place before the year begins. But then, the winds of March begin to blow and kick off a fire-storm of needs to be filled.
When you think about it, recruiting at this time of year is really very much like the NCAA’s March Madness tournament. It starts with the huge rush of potential candidates vying for an invitation to the dance. Not everyone makes the cut. Only those who are tried and true can show they’ve got what it takes and receive the opportunity to be part of the competition.
As the tournament begins, candidates who were invited to the dance are matched off against each other. Top seeds quickly topple the longshots. Even after the first round, though, you will still have way too many possibilities. It’s the small differences that result in a win or a loss at this stage. Do they live too far away? Do they seem like a good match for the corporate culture? By looking at these small factors and playing them off against each other, you’ll eventually get down to the sweet sixteen and the elite eight.
At some point, you’ll be surprised by an underdog. Someone you would not have predicted will come out of the pack and present themselves as a perfect fit for the role. Perhaps they’ve worked in a very similar company or in a sister or parent company. Whatever it is, it makes them seem magical, and no one can look away.
Eventually, you reach the final four. These are all excellent choices. There isn’t a bad one in the batch. They come to the final competition exhausted by the process but still showing their true colors, professional, hardworking, skilled, and driven. The final arena is, of course, the onsite interviews. These are critical competitions. Everyone is playing their top game, and they leave nothing on the court.
In the end, you can only have one champion, the candidate who receives an offer. They made it through all the rounds, beat every challenger, and rose to the top. They are the final title-holder as they begin their new job. Though there may be some madness to filling roles at this point of the year, it’s an exhilarating time. The excitement of finding the champion never wears off.
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