Prodigy
732-303-9950

PRODIGY SPORTS

NEWS

Category - Off the Mark

Assessing Assessments as Part of the Hiring Process

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

Every Spring when it comes time to evaluate future NFL stars in the draft, there is plenty of discussion surrounding the Wonderlic Test.  Many think there is value, hence it is still administered.  Others give it no credence.  Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw scored a 16; Ryan Fitzpatrick and Greg McElroy scored 48 (out of 50).  The scouts, coaches, general managers, and owners use this test in addition to many other assessments, interviews, and film to evaluate their talent.  Sometimes it works, other times it is an abject failure.

On the business side of sports, when it comes to talent acquisition, we have seen our past and present clients utilize everything from Myers-Briggs to TriMetrix to the Predictive Index to the Caliper Test.  Some have used these tools at the beginning of the process, before interviews take place; others have used these tools after the entire process is complete and right before an offer is extended (or depending on the results, not extended).  The beauty of where we are positioned allows us to be Switzerland in not suggesting nor discouraging the use of these assessments.  However, one thing is for sure – employers are often using these and other tests to better understand the candidate they intend to hire not as an exclusionary tool in eliminating someone from contention.

I’ll admit, many years ago I had a client that always utilized the Caliper Test to present the client with a profile on the candidate’s key traits, personality, style, motivation, and leadership potential – and, I wasn’t too fond of it.  In theory, I thought it was a worthwhile tool.  But for one particular search, we had an executive whom we recommended to our client after we conducted multiple interviews and did adequate checking of their credentials. That person went in for a full-day, 8-hour set of formal and informal interviews; reference and background checks were clear.  Everyone was on board with this candidate.  That person checked every box.  Then it came time for the Caliper Test – everything prior, all of the work done to vet this candidate was for naught and an offer was not made because the results from that test were not to the client’s liking.  For that same client, several years later, I had a candidate who randomly filled out the answers to the test without reading the questions, and finished the test in record time, because that person thought it was a waste of their time.

These tools do, in fact, have a tremendous amount of value.  Both parties should take them seriously but keep in mind their place in the evaluation process.  For employers, there is danger in using them as the sole determining factor in making a hire (remember, there are good test-takers and bad test-takers).  If there is too much emphasis placed on a single test to evaluate whether a candidate is right for your organization, you are letting it trump the initial opinion of a candidate you have spoken with or met.  A bar graph, scale, grade, or any other purely quantitative assessment should not be used as a true judgement of someone’s talent. For candidates, take these assessments when you have adequate, quiet time and while it is recommended to not take these too lightly, do not overthink your answers or simply answer based on what you believe the employer is looking for.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Finding Reasons NOT to Hire (or NOT to Accept a Job Offer) is a Recipe for Failure

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

Employers are fastidious and they have every right to be.  They are in a position of leverage and we all know that – they have the jobs and a collective “we” want the jobs.  Executive search firms are picky as well, if we’re being honest.  That’s our job and we get paid to be particular and selective, whether it is following our clients needs, guidelines, or our own personal candidate interviews, conversations, and vetting.  What we sometimes wrestle with and try to balance is the notion of finding the “perfect candidate” with realizing what proverbial boxes don’t need to be checked off for the imperfect, yet immensely-talented candidate.

Assuming you have specific criteria from a job description that must be met, add in how the candidate fits with your company culture, and factor in feedback you have received from multiple rounds of phone, Skype, and in-person interviews; consider the additional reference checks, assessments, and/or projects/assignments you might have asked the candidate to complete.  After all of that vetting, why second guess?  Why go against your gut?  Why search for skeletons and dig for negativity ad nauseam?

Whether it is a Director of Ticket Sales, Vice President of Marketing, or Chief Revenue Officer, the importance of making the right hire cannot be understated.  But there is a BIG difference between doing your homework and research and trying to locate and land a unicorn.  This isn’t quite a paralysis by analysis situation…it is worse…it is paralysis by “over-analysis”.  Stop trying to find reasons NOT to hire and instead push for reasons TO make a hire.  Look at all of the positives that the new hire will bring the organization and focus on ways to aid where there are shortcomings. Think about the reasons why you were looking to hire in the first place and why you were initially intrigued by or sold on this specific candidate.  Trust that instinct!

All of that being said, we cannot let candidates off the hook.  We often talk about the “human element” of recruiting, which has many definitions and explanations, but it essentially points to the uncontrollable.  Clearly we are not selling a season ticket or pitching a marketing plan…but the idea of trying to convince someone to take a new job, relocate their family, report to a new boss, adjust their career goals, and shift their earning potential is easier said than done.  We know the grass isn’t always greener but candidates, like their hiring organizations, have to take a step back and look at what is most important to them and what is secondary, if not tertiary.  The perfect job/company/employer/location simply does not exist – try not to seek out reasons to TURN DOWN that offer…find reasons to ACCEPT that offer.  You have invested too much time, energy, money, and effort into the hiring process to say no when you are at the finish line.

As Big Tom Callahan (Brian Dennehy) once said – “Why say ‘no’ when it feels so good to say ‘yes’?

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Sports Business Career Conference

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

On July 19, Prodigy Sports co-sponsored, along with Drexel University’s Center for Sport Management, an invitation-only Sports Business Career Conference for current graduate students and alumni of Drexel’s relatively young Sport Management program.  The theme for the day was the “Evolution of Careers in Sports Business – How the Game Has Changed”. With strong speakers and talented panelists, ranging from key leaders at companies like the NBA, Philadelphia Eagles, The Athletic, Red Sox Foundation, and many more, it was a day of knowledge sharing about and relationship-building in the sports field.

We were very lucky to have Lara Price, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, start our day as the keynote speaker.  Aside from her incredible insights into the present and future business ventures of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, she talked about how things have progressed over the years – from multiple ownership changes to tremendous growth of staff sizes and scope of responsibilities, and of course, incredible technological advances.  Beyond that, new revenue streams are emerging every day as are varied business interests of her and other ownership groups (i.e.: HBSE’s focus on the NBA G-League, international soccer, minor league hockey, esports).  It was fascinating to hear her discuss the areas that are advancing and therefore what job seekers should keep an eye on – analytics, data, esports, content, and OTT, among many others.  The biggest takeaway from Lara from her session – “we are looking for people with intellectual curiosity!”

After Lara, we had two back-to-back panels: 1) Ask the Recruiter and 2) Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry.

From the “Ask the Recruiter” panel, a few common messages stood out:

  • Apply for the most relevant and applicable jobs, not dozens or 100s at a time, for/with the same company
  • Use social media, like LinkedIn, as a candidate to enhance your brand, tell your story, and market yourself
  • Be different, stand out…but perhaps don’t mail the organization jerseys, shoes, or cookies to express your passion and interest
  • Look in areas where the jobs are being developed as we speak…esports, market research, social media, digital asset/digital library, sport performance and business analytics, fan experience, sports gambling, fantasy sports
  • Search outside of the “Big 4”, branch out, and be flexible; don’t be afraid to get experience and gain skills outside of the industry
  • If your long-term goal is to be physically based out of a specific region (“home”), develop a road map that may allow for short-term, reasonable relocation to other markets that would position you best to return after you’ve built skills and gained experience

The moderator and panelists from “Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” provided another perspective as true practitioners in unique spaces in the industry:

  • Networking is a lot of work (after all, the word “work” is right there)
  • Utilize sports business industry conferences to volunteer, build relationships, and get your name out there at a young age; be a sponge for information and introductions
  • Have a positive, don’t quit attitude; you won’t be the first or last sports industry professional to get knocked down…just get back up
  • Grind it out, especially but not exclusively, early in your career; don’t be afraid to take risks
  • Don’t be afraid to change directions and pivot in your career; take chances, particularly calculated ones
  • Have a plan, have goals but be willing to go off script
  • If struggling to find a job “IN” the sports industry, work towards landing a job that works “WITH” the sports industry
  • Let your network know EXACTLY what you are doing and when you are doing certain things (graduating, changing careers, moving), inclusive of family and friends, not just your professional network

Dr. Karen Weaver, Associate Clinical Professor at Drexel, summed up the day for the attendees very simply – “Add Value”!

____________________________________________________________________________________

“Ask the Recruiter” was moderating by yours truly and welcomed Dan Rossetti from Prodigy Sports, Colleen Scoles from the Philadelphia Eagles, Bryan Lick from the NBA, and Christopher Nash from Comcast Spectacor.

“Emerging or Untapped Hiring Sectors of the Industry” featured Mark Burns from Sports Business Chronicle, Elyse Matsumoto from NESN, Mick Blume from Red Sox Foundation, Arin Segal, formerly of Prodigy Sports, and currently with Delmondo, Kevin Giordano, formerly of Nelligan Sports/Philadelphia Union, from Spark, and Derek Bodner from The Athletic.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net

Recruiters on the Conference Circuit

By: Mark Gress Jr., Prodigy Sports

People often ask me and others at Prodigy Sports what our goals and objectives are at sports and entertainment industry conferences.  The initial inclination is that what we are trying to get out of and achieve at a conference is different than most attendees.  However, given our unique role in the industry (i.e.: not a team or league; nor a traditional vendor selling a product), it is a valid question.  Perhaps there would be value in our attendance at a SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) event or recruiting conference but our industry is so different and specialized that those conferences wouldn’t come close to matching the value we get and return on our investment.  Given we dive deep into the sports and entertainment industries every day in our projects, it only makes sense to attend these conferences as well, even if we are not the traditional target audience that it may be marketed to.

In no particular order, as recruiters in attendance, we have several tangible and intangible boxes to check off:

  • Meeting our past, present, and future candidates.  Putting a face with a name is critical.  Building rapport with people we ask to trust us with confidentiality and private details about their career, personal life, and salary is paramount.  Networking is key at these conferences so what better opportunity than to meet face-to-face (regardless of whether it is a coffee break, luncheon, or cocktail reception/happy hour).
  • Meeting our past and present clients.  While we have easy access to New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington D.C., our clients are spread out from Florida to California and everywhere in between and possibly out of the country.  Conferences are a great central meeting place and time to check in on our placements, ask for feedback and suggestions on our work and processes, and dialogue about current projects.  Most importantly – we must use this time to say THANK YOU.
  • Seek out and pursue new business.  Clearly, we’re not the only ones at a conference looking at bringing back a lead to the office and converting new business but given we don’t view ourselves as a “vendor”, it isn’t done at a trade show or sponsored lunch.  Our role and what we do is based on people, the human element, so therefore our value is best proven and shown through our relationships, transparency, credibility, and strength in evaluating executive-level talent.
  • Listen, observe, and ask questions.  Getting the pulse of industry happenings, following the “movers and shakers”, understanding trends, and actively/passively participating in the conversation are critical.  We must be informed, even as generalists, about who is doing what in our industry, why they are doing it, and what the results/reaction are or have been. This is also helpful for us to see which areas we can focus our outreach in throughout certain teams, leagues, and venues.
  • Connect with industry friends to build and cement relationships.  Celebrate the victories, show appreciation for their friendship and support, and offer to help with anything personally and professionally.

Everyone’s reasoning for attending conferences is different but the value remains the same for all…even executive recruiters.

As Vice President, Recruiting, Mark Gress Jr. brings more than 10 years of experience in the sports industry. He initially joined Prodigy Sports in early 2015 as Director, Recruiting before being promoted in 2016. Gress’ experience in the industry has brought him success in filling positions for Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, World Rowing Championships, USA Curling, USA Table Tennis, USA Taekwondo, and many more.

 

Contact: mark@prodigysports.net