July 27, 2017

Rounding the Bases: Recruiting, Careers, and Baseball

By Jay Boone, Partner and Manager, Banking

Rounding the Bases: Recruiting, Careers, and Baseball

It’s baseball season, and baseball has long been an enduring part of American culture. The sport teaches us the values of discipline and teamwork; for this (and other) reasons, baseball is a powerful metaphor for our lives — and our careers. Every professional has endured their fair share of strike outs, home runs, and dramatic slides into second, sometimes being called out, sometimes being safe by inches. Just as success and failure are a part of life, baseball isn’t about winning every single game, but it is more about having a winning season.

The dugout and home plate

Every career begins in the dugout: a small, crowded place but that is entirely yours — it’s all about your dreams, your goals, and your vision of a professional life that will provide for you (and, potentially, your family) for decades to come. The dugout can be exciting, full of promise and potential — but many obstacles lie ahead. The move to the batter’s box is a place where mistakes will be made, and setbacks will occur, some self-inflicted, others caused by the skills and acumen of your competition. Home plate is where you, as a professional, make your first stand.

You bring everything you have to home plate: talent, experience, and attitude. It’s here where the world learns who you are and what type of game you have. You study the pitcher and each pitch with a discerning eye, calculating how to turn every opportunity into a professional advantage. Early in your career, you’ll learn which pitches to swing at and which to let pass. While you’re up to bat, your goal is to get to first base no matter what. But every baseball player needs a good manager/coach to get on base; professional recruiters can provide the life-changing input and career advice you need to get there.

First Base

You’ve made it to first base! At this point in your career, the field opens up, and you’ll see that there’s still much work to do. So you look around, assessing the score, the bases ahead of you, and the other players — especially the pitcher — to develop a strategy moving forward. You know that advancing in your chosen career involves risk, especially when it comes to getting to second base. You’ve already spent years honing your skills for this point: Before you make your move to second, you want to make a well-timed move and a seasoned recruiter can assist in telling when to take your foot off of the bag. Recruiters have the experience and vision to know what move you should make; they’ve studied the game intensively, and will have a better idea of the other players involved.

Second Base

Second base is a scoring position. You’re halfway there: your career has just as much behind it now as it does in front of it. The field is familiar, and the game can be somewhat slower. The pitcher, who has his back turned toward you, is directly in front of you; you’ve earned his respect and the respect of many fans in the stadium. The closer you get to your ultimate goal, however, the more impactful your decisions become. For example, you’ve likely accumulated more responsibilities over the years — perhaps you have a family now, and a mortgage. You’re not as brazen or daring as you were at bat, but at second base, the wisdom that comes with professional experience is your greatest and most valuable asset. Perhaps now is the time for you to begin managing other employees — to become a leader on your team. Your personal recruiter, always tracking your progress within the game, will know if a move into management is the best career strategy for you, both as an individual and as a team member.

Third Base

You’re just 90 feet from scoring. Most of the field, and bases, are behind you, and the stakes are high. You’ve reached a point in your career that many aspire to achieve. It is time to leverage that experience and expertise in ways that truly fulfill the career goals you set at the beginning of the game. Reflect on your progress, and which stages of your career gave you found most rewarding. Determine when and how you contributed the most to a company or a team. Consider whether your final move should be as a leader in your organization or as a valued individual contributor. Before you know it, you’ll be back home, having won the game and built a career that makes proud.

No matter what inning your career is in, start a discussion with a seasoned recruiter to explore which moves will lead toward your professional success. After all, it’s not just a game of baseball — it’s your life!