Lessons from the NFL Draft: Why You Should Be Recruiting for Talent -- Not Need

By Jeremy Carver on April 26, 2019

With the NFL draft in full swing, sports pundits and fans are passionately debating how teams should approach filling out their rosters. In sports (and in business), there are two types of recruiting: recruiting for need (working to fill a specific position on your team) and recruiting for talent (acquiring the best available talent on the market, regardless of need).

In the NFL, that might look like the 49ers picking up second-ranked Quinnen Williams (defensive tackle) over third-ranked EDGE Josh Allen, even though their dominant need is for an edge rusher. Simply put, Williams is the stronger player by far - and he can add value to the 49ers team overall. This year’s draft pool has a plethora of EDGE talent, so they can always pick up a good edge rusher in a later round.

In construction, choosing talent over need might involve scooping up a skilled Estimator who has come on the market even though you’re not hurting for Estimators right now. In the long run, building a strong team can only benefit your company, while waiting to recruit until you have a pressing need can be very costly.

The Cost of a Bad Hire

In a candidate-driven market, all hiring decisions should be made as quickly as possible to ensure the continued interest and availability of a strong candidate. But when a company has an urgent need, it increases the likelihood that a hiring authority will rush the process and cut corners in order to fill the position -- even if the person they hire isn’t a great fit. No big deal, right? How much could one hiring mistake cost?

Consider this: In June 2017, the 49ers drafted and signed Reuben Foster to a four-year, $9 million contract with $7 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $4 million. After many off-the-field issues, the 49ers released him in 2018, just over a year after drafting him. One bad hire cost them millions of dollars.

According to London-based branding agency Link Humans, a bad hire can cost your company $240,000 in wasted recruiting, hiring, and onboarding efforts. And that’s just the monetary cost to your company. It doesn’t factor in the amount of time a manager wastes on hiring and training the wrong employee, or the negative impact on your team’s morale and your project’s success.

Recruit and Retain Talent

The construction industry is still enjoying a strong market. Many companies are so busy reaping the benefits of the present that they’re not planning for the future. But here’s the truth: the market is going to correct itself. And when it does, the best thing for your company is for you to have put in the effort to stack your team with strong, loyal talent that will help you coast through the headwinds. That translates to keeping an eye on the market and recruiting top talent when it becomes available, even if you don’t have a current need.

Find a place on your team for exceptional candidates who can add value and strengthen your company culture -- they’re worth the investment and the effort to keep them there. That way, when the market corrects, you won’t have to worry about need; you’ll be fully stocked with talent!

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Jeremy Carver

Jeremy Carver

Vice President

Jeremy Carver began his career with Kimmel & Associates in 2006. After receiving a BA in Geography from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, he spent several years with two top civil/environmental engineering firms.

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