What Can Talent Acquisition Leaders Learn from Liverpool FC?

Guest Contributorby John Fleischauer | Posted | Talent Acquisition

What Can Talent Acquisition Leaders Learn from Liverpool FC?

A few months ago, I met a new colleague via Halogen’s euchre ladder. He sat down at the table, introduced himself, took his cell phone out of his pocket and put it face down on the table. I noticed that a sticker on the back of his phone had the same logo as the t-shirt he was wearing. “What’s that logo?” I asked. “My team’s crest,” he said. “Liverpool FC.”

Fast forward a few days and I run into him again at an Ottawa Senators game. Sure enough, he was wearing another Liverpool Football Club (FC) t-shirt. The Sens were down two goals with five minutes to go and the stadium was starting to empty. “I don’t get hockey fans,” he said. “They have no passion. This would never happen in Liverpool.”

Say what? No passion?

And yet…after thinking about it, I realized he’s right.

To a die-hard European football or “footy” fan, the droves of people running out of the stadium to beat insane post-game traffic instead of staying to support the their home team — win, lose or draw — must’ve been mind-blowing.

That’s when it clicked. Talent acquisition professionals could learn a thing or two about building that same kind of passion for their organization’s employer brand.

Liverpool FC and best-practices talent acquisition

I sat down with my colleague a few days later to dig deeper and explore what made him so passionate for his team. After he shared his thoughts, I realized that what he was telling me could be applied to best practices in talent acquisition. I’ll explain what I mean later in this post. Right now, let’s talk European football.

A little bit about Liverpool FC and its fans:

History: Liverpool FC was founded in 1892. Check out the club’s success story. And football has been played since medieval times. This is a sport with some growing pains, but it’s one that has withstood the test of time.

They have so much to win: Liverpool FC competes for multiple championships each season. Not just one. But winning isn’t just about the cups or trophies. Like many sports, football unifies people for a common cause. It brings people together.

Sense of community: Liverpool FC fans feel a sense of community. My colleague wears the Liverpool FC crest with pride any time he travels; he always makes new friends as a result.

Anthem: “You’ll never walk alone.” I don’t know about you, but when 20,000 Sens fans sing “Oh Canada” before puck drop, I tear up. Imagine the impact of 100,000 fans singing “You’ll never walk alone” during a match when Liverpool is down a goal. As a player, you would have to be a robot not to feel inspired to give your all when your fans are behind you like that.

Rivalry: Liverpool FC fans need Manchester United fans just like Toronto Maple Leaf fans need Montreal Canadiens fans. Like Yankees fans need Red Sox fans. That rivalry spurs them on and reinforces that sense of community.

What talent acquisition leaders can learn from all of this…

History: If you are actively recruiting for new employees, chances are your company has a success story to share. Are you sharing this story with the masses or is it a well-kept secret that only the most curious and diligent job seekers have discovered?

Do your onboarding processes include an overview of how your company got to where it is today? Share this story and include growing pains and successes. Be proud of that history.

They have so much to win: Are you communicating with your employees what their efforts are tangibly helping your company achieve? If not, why? If you proactively communicate to your employees what they are working towards, chances are they’ll push harder.

Sense of community: Unless you’re a dinosaur recruiter, you understand that the most powerful talent attraction magnet on the planet is your existing employee base. What steps are you taking to leverage your employees as ambassadors of your talent brand? Get employees in the very roles you’re trying to fill to share your organization’s success. Get them to promote career development opportunities at your organization using their own words and experiences.

Anthem: When your company is two goals down with five minutes to go, are your employees heading out to the parking lot or are they banding together and blasting out your company’s battle cry? Don’t have a battle cry yet? Consider challenging your employees to create one. That’s a teambuilding exercise waiting to happen.  

Rivalry: Who do you compete against for talent? Keep in mind it may not be organizations in the same industry as yours, but it could be organizations in the same city. Don’t be afraid to pick a (professional) fight with them, but tie it to a great cause. Fundraising competitions are one example of this win/win/win approach. Attract talent, build team camaraderie and support corporate social responsibility at the same time.

Liverpool FC fans are some of the most passionate fans on the planet. Can you imagine the impact to your talent acquisition program if your employees were even half as passionate for your company as my colleague is for his club?

Adopting talent acquisition strategy from footy may sound crazy. It may seem scary. But guess what? Liverpool FC is worth $650 million dollars for a reason.

Your Turn: How does your organization create a compelling employer brand for employees and candidates?

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