The SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL recently published a great article centered on sports industry employment. The article focused on techniques employers should use when seeking candidates. Check below for access.
Sports organizations long to have fans in love with their brand — fans who consume their product with passion and in a highly identified manner, and fans who fantasize about their connection to the team. But the hiring managers for those teams want something totally different. For instance, how many times has a job applicant for a sports organization mentioned the following: “I grew up a fan of this team, and it’s always been my dream to work for them.” That’s not exactly the reason sports organizations want to hear when hiring entry-level employees, but it’s oftentimes why job applicants apply for sports jobs. This can lead to seekers of sports industry jobs having unrealistic expectations.
We recently conducted a set of experiments with 203 sports management students that involved how the use of “realistic job previews” can assist hiring managers in screening those applicants who are a good fit with the organization. A realistic job preview is the presentation by a sports organization of both favorable and unfavorable actual job-related information to job candidates that presents an honest assessment and provides a dose of reality for entry-level job applicants. The preview can take the form of a verbal description or written description, but most often it is through site visits, recruiting events, or even a video overview of the job.
If, after viewing a realistic job preview, job candidates perceive a strong fit with the organization/job, they will be more likely to apply for the position and accept it if offered. Conversely, we found that applicants, after being exposed to realistic information about the job, sometimes conclude they are not a good fit for the job or organization and choose not to apply, saving the sports organization valuable resources such as time and money.
For the first group of students, we had them read a written description of a college athletic department game-day operations internship followed by them viewing a realistic job preview for the same position. This video shows an actual game-day operations intern performing typical day-to-day tasks.
The results suggested that, after watching the video preview, some potential applicants were compelled to be more attracted to the job position and/or more likely to accept the job position if offered. (It’s the same job they read about in a typical job announcement but it was set to live action in the video). For others, the effect was the opposite. After the video preview, some were less attracted to the job position and/or less likely to accept the
|Seeing actual sports job activities and duties can often change a job seeker’s perspective.
Photos by: PHOENIX SUNS (2)
job, if offered. In other words, something they saw in the video negatively affected their perspectives. Perhaps the actual job was not as they imagined after reading the job announcement.
For the second group of students, we decided to determine if the reason for applying for an entry-level position with a sports organization had to do with the level of perceived prestige of the sports property (which we know to be the case in some instances). These students read a written description for a corporate partnerships intern position with a minor-league basketball team and answered a few questions pertaining to their interest in the position and their thoughts of how the position fits their needs. Afterward, the group was shown a 15-minute video preview of the same tasks in the job announcement but in the context of an NBA franchise. The only thing that changed was where the job was located and for whom.
As one might expect, we saw many more positive comments in students’ interest/perceived fit for the position when the participants encountered the video content of Study 2, which featured NBA corporate offices in a downtown setting, the pageantry of a NBA arena, corporate suites and national sponsors.
So how might this information be helpful for sports organizations? The big point is that the interest of applicants changes when they are exposed to actual job information. This realistic preview gives them a dose of reality and forces them to think about the job itself rather than other elements — like the sports brand, or location, or their favorite player on the team.
By developing realistic job previews of entry-level jobs, sports organizations can populate the applicant pool with candidates who are more interested and viable. Our work suggests that the intentions of many future job applicants change when they encounter realistic information about the work, so implementing this would essentially prescreen the applicant pool naturally.
It’s imperative for organizations to identify sports job applicants who are applying for all the right reasons: strong interest in the profession; motivated by advancement opportunities; and attraction to the job description, not merely to the brand of the sports property. Sports organizations can post previews on their websites to complement entry-level job descriptions or through their partnerships with sports job websites.
Given the high costs involved in recruiting, training and developing new employees in general, sports organizations undoubtedly have a strong motivation to ensure they attract, and ultimately hire, the best available job candidates — individuals possessing the requisite abilities, education and job skills for the advertised work — who also have realistic expectations of the work they will be doing once hired.
Realistic job previews including written descriptions, videos and job site visits have been shown to assist with the hiring process in the sales profession for years. It’s time for the sports industry, because of its unique characteristics that attract job applicants, to employ realistic job previews to ensure their hiring resources are utilized in the most effective manner, leading to satisfied and highly productive employees.
Tony Lachowetz ([email protected]) is a lecturer and internship director in the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sam Todd ([email protected]) is a professor of sport management at Georgia Southern University.