Back to blogs

How to Recruit Like an Olympian

How To Recruit Like An Olympian Recruitment Blog

How to Recruit like an Olympian

Every four years, the Olympics bring together the most successful, dedicated athletes that our planet has to offer. Right now, Rio is buzzing with thousands of spectators watching the events unfold. Meanwhile, the contenders, along with their trainers, are eagerly awaiting their chance to become champions. Whilst we don’t recommend installing a sand pit in the office or having a diving pool in the breakout area, there are plenty of lessons that recruiters can learn from the Olympics.

Plan to be the best

Following any Olympic contender on social media will reveal the meticulous planning and training that is a daily occurrence for Olympians. From a very young age, Usain Bolt has competed in various events, dedicating hour after hour to becoming the best sprinter possible. This dedication and planning has ultimately allowed him to become a sporting legend. Bolt, who successfully won gold in three events at both the Beijing Olympics and London 2012, has just achieved his first gold in Rio. Although he has been known to scoff down 100 chicken nuggets a day, there is no doubting the intensity of his training, his strict(ish) diet plan and most importantly- his results on the track.

Many athletes have a daily, weekly, monthly and annual plan to keep them focused. The same planning is necessary in recruitment, too. Keeping an up to date diary, setting realistic, ambitious targets along with regularly monitoring progress can be the key to career success.

Resilience is key

As in recruitment, to be successful in any sport you need to be resilient. This resilience is personified most by The Refugee Olympic Team. Rose Nathike Lokonyen, who until last year used to train barefoot, is one of five from the Kakuma Refugee Camp who is participating in Rio; they all hope to inspire others and show that there is a chance to be successful if you are willing to put the work in.

Whether a seasoned professional or a trainee recruiter, the frustrations that occur in recruitment can always crop up. Be it a candidate not showing up for an interview, the CRM crashing or the dreaded counter-offer, resilience will always play a part in successfully overcoming problems.

To draw another parallel, in most field events there are six opportunities to score high. Even if the first five aren’t good enough, you can win gold from the final jump. It only takes that one superstar candidate to make the all-important placement. Keep working hard and eventually, the results will come.


Finding the perfect partner in an event such as synchronised diving is as much about mentality as it is technique, build and strength. Both divers need to commit to training hard together and have an almost telepathic understanding. British duo Tom Daley and Daniel Goodfellow have taken bronze in this year’s Olympics and have even lived together to strengthen their partnership.

Likewise, when people in a business share the same values and goals, they can work towards being a more efficient company. A productive team will contain individuals with various strengths which complement each other, with an underlying drive towards the same common goal. This should ultimately result in success.

Generalist v Specialist

Another interesting comparison to be drawn between the Olympics and recruitment is the benefit of specialising. It is often discussed that to succeed in the recruitment sector, a specialist niche should be chosen. It can be said to enable tighter networks, a deep sector knowledge and longer-term relationships. Focusing on one thing specifically will naturally enable a greater understanding and allow clients to see your dedication to their industry first-hand.

Whilst some new generalist recruitment businesses may succeed to an extent, will they ever be ‘true’ market specialists? In the same vein, would a Decathlete ever beat Usain Bolt over 100m?

Above all, in both recruitment and sport, it is important to be passionate about what you do and aim for gold.