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What if NFL free agency applied to corporate staffing?

You just closed the books on the fourth quarter. You’re getting ready for a new fiscal year. But, as can expected, you’ve lost some franchise players due to turnover. You’re next priority is filling their spots.

You just closed the books on the fourth quarter. You’re getting ready for a new fiscal year. But, as can expected, you’ve lost some franchise players due to turnover. You’re next priority is filling their spots. But instead of giving a ringy ding to your favorite executive search firm or putting an ad on your site, what if you had to wait until 12:01 AM ET on Friday, February 29 like NFL teams trying to reshape their rosters via free agency?  

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The whole free agency thing is pretty funny when you think about it. For a few months each spring, marquee players are courted by teams looking for those few missing pieces to their championship puzzle. Free agent players go on a road show to visit with possible suitors and their agents jockey for position so they can sign a lucrative deal with a new team or land top dollar if they resign with their current franchise. And by summer, it’s pretty much over.  

Some recruiters might argue that corporate staffing already is like free agency. And you’re probably right. After all, you’re trying to retain your “franchise players” while picking up a few key free agents from some other “teams.” And, if you happen to lose one of your franchise players, I think it’s safe to say that you wouldn’t want them going to a division rival, or in this case, a key competitor. 

Instead of a tour of the stadium complex and state-of-the-art weight room, you might give them a tour of the office complex and state-of-the-art vending machines.  

If you can’t find that new assistant brand manager via free agency, you can look to the on-campus recruiting draft to land a skilled MBA player right out of the program.  

The biggest down side with free agency is the same downside with eBay—teams usually end up overpaying for talent just like someone might overpay for a pair of like new slippers still in their original box. But even without free agency, it’s still just as easy to get caught in a bidding war with a competitor for a desirable candidate. 

How many catches did you have last season? How many times can you bench press 225 pounds?  Who needs Randy Moss when I can sign someone who led product management teams with P&L responsibility? 

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Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com).

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About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning.

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