Recruiters: The Sports Agents of the Business World

As soon as I accepted my internship job offer at Rowland Mountain & Associates, questions began rolling in about the company I would be working for.  What I came to realize was most people have only a vague idea of what the recruiting world does, and especially don’t understand the area of executive search.  As an avid sports lover, an analogy really stuck out in my mind: recruiters are the sports agents of the business world.
Think of it this way:  a sports agent seeks the top talent to represent.  They inform their client of their competitive value in their specialty, and from there they try to negotiate for them the best contracts with the best teams with the best opportunity for that individual.  In addition to these things, an agent is also concerned with the fit of their client in that organization.  It does a sports agent no good to sign one of the best running backs in the league with a team that has no real need for an additional running back, because that running back would be a waste of talent and probably would not be paid as much as they are worth with the poor-fitting team.
A member of an executive search firm does largely the same thing, but for business people.  While a recruiter is looking through Linked-in profiles, for example, they are looking for individuals with quantifiable results, leaders, and can bring positive change to the organization they are searching for.  They look for these things so they can better “sell” their candidate to a client company.  A recruiter doesn’t want to fit a “square peg into a round hole,” or force a candidate to be hired that is not right for the role/organization, because in doing-so they will make themselves appear to be less knowledgeable.  Some of you may recall Derek Jeter’s contract negotiation earlier this year, and how much negative publicity that whole process drew due to them asking “too much” for the athlete declining in performance.  Recruiters want to avoid this, while still getting their candidate and client what they deserve.
Many times a recruiter will make a connection with an individual who is not actively looking for a job.  When this situation presents itself it is not a waste of time, because most people are open to change when a significant upgrade presents itself.  In this case, the recruiter lets the individual know their value in the workplace, and when an opportunity presents itself that would provide that individual a better opportunity, they advise that individual through the process just as an agent would.
So, if you ever get a call from a recruiter and don’t feel they have anything to offer you, remember the value they can bring to the table, because even the most talented athletes have agents.
Of course there are other aspects of recruiting, executive searching, and sports agent representation that I did not cover and do not apply to this analogy; however, this has been the best way for me to connect the dots for my friends in other fields.
–Martelle Warner, Marketing Intern at Rowland Mountain & Associates