For several years, I have been the travel coach for an elite girls’ softball program. Last year I am proud to say our 16U team finished ninth in the country at ASA Nationals and our 18U program has consistently ranked in the top 20, with the majority of the players receiving college scholarships.
To have a successful travel program, you need to have top players. Recruiting those players to join your program can be challenging because athletes have several good teams to choose from. In my county alone, there are probably 10 to 12 teams that the best and most talented players can join. It’s extremely competitive.
In choosing the right team to play for, these top athletes look at several program variables: travel schedule, tournament quality with greatest exposure to college coaches, the coaching staff’s expertise and reputation, team success (are they nationally ranked?) and even the dynamic of the players on the current team roster to make sure they like everyone and will be a good cultural fit. Yes, there is some drama associated with picking a team!
How a softball program is branded and the reputation it has in the local community definitely impacts the quality of player who joins that team. It’s not easy to differentiate your program from others to attract the best players; it takes work! But failure to do so will certainly impact your team’s success.
On a grander scale, organizations and hiring managers face the same recruiting challenges every day that travel softball coaches encounter. How can they attract the top talent into their organizations to deliver business results? How can they differentiate their company culture and career opportunities from others? Top talent has many opportunities to choose from. Now more than ever, it’s critical that organizations stand out from the competition to ensure they prepare themselves for workforce growth and future economic changes.
Here are three simple things that organizations should do to differentiate their employer branding and give them the competitive advantage in recruiting top candidates.
First off, it’s important to understand that your candidates are your customers. While there are some differences between consumer, corporate and employer branding, they are becoming more intertwined than in previous years. One way to uncover how your organization is branded is to visit sites like Glassdoor and Indeed and read up on your company reviews. Most candidates visit these sites before even applying for a job. If you are not branded well, candidates may not even apply. We know our softball program’s brand has a great reputation based on feedback we receive from college coaches, parents and from the volume of players wanting to join our team. Without a good brand, we wouldn’t attract the top talent to play for us.
People want to be part of a successful team and work for a winning organization. It’s OK to promote your successes externally and showcase how proud you are of your accomplishments. Make sure your website and career pages include all awards and accolades your organization has received. Players come to our softball program because when they visit our site, they see our team’s successes, tournament wins, national ranking and the number of players who receive college scholarships. Showcase the recognition you have achieved and top talent will want to learn more.
Have a noble purpose as an organization and promote your corporate social responsibility initiatives externally. People want to work for a company that isn’t only concerned about making a profit. Sustainability initiatives, charitable activities and fundraisers are a good way to show a candidate you care about the world we live in and the people in the communities in which you operate. I am proud to say our softball team participates in many fundraising and charitable events throughout the year. It is absolutely a differentiator that separates our program from others and is fully embraced by the parents and players.
To be competitive and meet your business or team goals and objectives, you must have the right people and players on board to execute and deliver your desired outcomes. You can’t be a nationally ranked softball program with "C" talent. Businesses can’t meet their financial targets or attain growth percentages with average employees. Hiring managers should ask, “Why would someone want to work for us?" and “Are we promoting externally why someone would want to work here?" If the answer to those questions are “I’m not sure” or “No”, you are probably missing out on the top talent in the marketplace! Stand out, attract the best candidates and create a winning team for your organization!
Check out the 2017 Employment Branding report for more ideas on creating a winning brand:
As the director of client solutions for WilsonHCG, Chad has more than 17 years of experience in various staffing roles, including leadership and service delivery responsibilities. His experience spans the spectrum of talent acquisition, including employment branding, workforce planning, strategic staffing initiatives, analytics and business process improvement.