How IT Recruiting is a lot like Signing Top Premier League Players

 In IT Recruiting, IT Staffing

Stephen Nesbitt | IT Recruiter | Twitter LinkedIn

As an avid football fan I have been paying a lot of attention to the English Premier League transfer window in recent weeks. Hoping beyond hope that my team (Manchester United) makes several world class signings has led me to draw similarities between the world of scouting and transfers in professional football to the world of IT recruitment. Below are some of my thoughts on how the two worlds overlap.


Scouting Players vs IT Recruiting


In the football world the first step to signing player is to conduct your research through scouting. This involves watching a player numerous times to decide whether or not he is good enough for your team. How has he developed over the course of his career so far? How does he handle the pressure of professional football? How does he get on with his teammates? Is he a disciplined player? And, most importantly how will he fit into your team and style of play? These are the main questions you need to answer before you can be satisfied that this is the player to make your season a successful one.


Similarly, in the world of IT recruiting the first step in finding a rockstar candidate for your client is to do your research! You first need to find the resume, then after the initial phone you need to meet the candidate face-to-face to ascertain whether or not this candidate has the skills needed. What has their career path been like so far? What skills/technologies are they specifically strong with? How have they developed as a professional over the course of their career? How do they get on with colleagues? How will the skill-set fit into the project the client is currently working on?


The Interview/Offer Stage


Once these questions are answered favorably,your potential signing had a great season last year and your club has solid interest in signing him, you can move to the next stage. Similarly with IT recruitment,  your client likes the look of the candidate’s resume, is happy with his skills and experience and has successfully interviewed him you can start negotiating an offer.


In both worlds the talent on show has a unique skill-set, whether that is Messi-like pace and skill or mind-blowing application development skills, the fact is you guy will also be wanted by another team or another company. In this year’s transfer window we saw Thiago do a u turn on what looked like a certain deal with Manchester United, opting instead to join European Champions Bayern Munich. When your candidate has a rare skill-set you can bet that other companies will have offers on the table. As a recruiter it is your job to convince talent why you company will win the league…


The difficulties of locking up your Resources

As mentioned above, negotiating an offer does not always go as planned. Take Thiago again for example, United fans around the globe were convinced he would join our team. Seemingly the package was good, benefits and bonuses were what the player wanted but yet he chose another club over United. Why? Just like on an IT project, if both the project manager and candidate have a previous working relationship the likelihood of that candidate choosing another offer over the chance to work with a previous manager is low. Assuming the relationship between the two was good.


Similarly in football, players like to work with managers they have played for in the past. There are many examples of this – Essien and Mourinho, Pepe Reina and Benitez, De Guzman and Laudrup – and Thiago choosing to renew his working relationship with Pep Guardiola is just another example.




To sign top talent in any industry you need to know all the facts. You need to research the competition and what they are likely to offer. You need to be able to offer the best in terms of success/career development, challenging working environment and an interesting project. If you can do this you will get your Thiago and win the league!

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