Let’s face it.  Athletes are employees.  As much as fans would like to romanticize them otherwise, professional athletes are hired to do a job.  Remove the hype, the media, and the adoring fans and you’ll see the contracts, the meetings and performance evaluations—similar to your job or mine.

Sure, “their” job comes with intense pressure and the expectation of health and championships, but it is nonetheless, a job.  Once Peyton Manning was released from the Colts, he had no shortage of franchise suitors.    Earlier this week, though, he announced his decision to become a Denver Bronco.  What made the Mile High team so appealing?  Culture.

Sure, some will say it was the salary package (or his ties to John Elway), but according to Manning, his decision was based on the “feel” of the team.  He went on to say that Denver is an organization that is “committed to winning” and one that has a “special environment.”

Clearly, not everyone is a professional athlete and not every business has the resources to pull in talent like a major sports franchise does.  But, what we are finding at HireEQ is that desperation no longer seems to precede suitability.  As recruiters, we’ve always believed in holding out for just the right match.  But, that philosophy is not one that our clients have always held to as sternly.  In recent months though, we’ve noticed a large swing in that direction from both sides of the hire.

Employers are increasingly more selective about the employees they bring in, and by the same rite, candidates are more willing to hold out for the best opportunity.  This shift tells us that no matter the size of the company, employers must recognize that they are being watched and evaluated all the time—and not just for their products or services.  From the small business to the fortune 500, culture matters.  Candidates care about the external image of a company, but what seems to matter equally (if not more) is how that plays out internally.  Candidates are giving heavy consideration to questions like:  are we a good fit for each other?  What is it like to work for Company X?

You may not be trying to woo over a multi-million dollar legend, but when it comes down to it, you want someone who adds value to your organization.  And, quite honestly, today’s candidates want the same measure of value in return.

So, are you fostering a corporate culture that is attractive enough to draw in exceptional talent?  There may have been plenty of other reasons Manning chose Denver besides the “feel,” but if you are the Tennessee Titans’ manager right now (one of the many teams Peyton turned down despite a lifetime contract offer), you can’t help but take a good, hard look at your organization and wonder why it didn’t have the right “feel.”


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