July 10, 2023

The Hirewell Hot Corner: Free Agency / Looking for Your Next Role


Episode Highlights

"Free Agency" in the Working World


Do Your Research & Take Your Time


The Hiring Manager Side of "Free Agency"


Finding/Being "Unicorns" in the Market


Two-Minute Drill: Be Aggressive While Being Strategic


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In this week’s episode, Dan and Louie return from a long 4th of July weekend to talk about the craziness that is the Free Agency market in sports.  Most recently, the NHL and NBA have had the free agency market open for the upcoming season and we see top-end talent get to dictate a lot of where they end up signing because they are a commodity.  We saw Fred VanVleet end up in Houston after he decided not to resign with the Toronto Raptors. We saw Ryan O’Reilly and Dimitri Orlov depart from the teams they were traded to at last year’s trade deadline to join new organizations. We segue this into recruiting by discussing what “free agency” is for candidates and employers.  Candidates should be evaluating their wants in companies and jobs and employers should fully understand the commitment to hiring is not something you can half-ass. Another part of our discussion revolves around at-will employment and how you have the right to leave or dismiss someone at any time with just cause.  The two-minute drill wraps up our thoughts and gives our advice to candidates and employers on how to have a successful free agency.

Episode Transcript


Welcome back to the Hirewell Hot Corner where sports and recruitment meet. I am your host, Dan Spittel, joined as always by my Iron Man co-host, Louie Morici. Louie, great to see you again. Before we jump into the sports side, how was your 4th of July? Excellent. Had a great time. My brother and his family came in from Dallas, so got to see my niece, my nephew, my brother, and then my sister-in-law who went up to my parents’ lake house in Michigan, went to the beach.

It was a great time. Played some golf, all that good stuff. How about you? Very nice. A lot of time spent with family. The traditional cookout, parade, fireworks, all that good stuff. Nice. We are very lucky to live in such a great country. Happy 4th of July to all of our American viewers.

Got to love the amount of freedom we have in this world. But let’s jump back in. What’s going on in your world and the world of sports today? Well, yeah, 4th of July, bunch of baseball yesterday, so that was fun. We were just chatting about the Cubs epic win in the 10th inning, I believe it was. A rookie pitcher on the mound, came in for two scoreless innings. And Ian Happ throwing out two people at the plate. So baseball, and then we had NHL and NBA free agency just start. And let’s face it, it’s usually a pretty fun time to get some of that, those two sports, in the off season with baseball going on. Yeah, we were just talking about Ian Happ a Pittsburgh native, doing it for the Cubs and Jack Suwinski, a Chicago native doing it for the Pirates yesterday.

What a fun time for both cities. Yeah. Free agency. I mean, we’re hitting that lull as we talked about where it’s the dog days of baseball. And I love baseball, so it’s not really a lull for me. But, the NHL Free Agency, a lot of new faces on a lot of new teams. Same with the NBA Free Agency, still a relatively new concept in sports. I believe it came about around 50 to 60 years ago in most major sports leagues. But it is the ultimate freedom for these guys to play wherever they want. Long gone are the days of people being one teamers for their long careers. A lot of it is money.

There’s some player involvement, teammates, family considerations, but, it is the most free that anyone can be to choose where they want to continue their career. I blame LeBron. I don’t really see it any other way. I won’t dive into my personal thoughts on him. But I think he started that with the whole build whatever team you want in Miami when he did it with Chris Bosch and Dwayne Wade.

We won’t go down that rabbit hole. But yeah, I mean, we’re seeing so many signings, big impact players. And the big impact players, let’s face it, they’re the ones that really get to dictate it more than just an average player. But, we’re seeing from an NHL standpoint, haven’t felt like there’s anything crazy that’s gone on.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Some people moving franchises and all that. And sign, sign and trade, all that. But NBA really been quiet on that front. I mean, we’re seeing more resigning guys like Draymond Green resigning with Golden State. Kyrie resigning with the Mavs. And then really the biggest one from the free agent side has been VanVleet. Fred VanVleet signing with the Rockets from the Raptors.

I mean, beloved Raptors player moved on to greener pastures or so he seems. So yeah. It’s been relatively quiet compared to some of these past ones for sure. The biggest names are sitting on their current rosters. Dame Lillard, James Harden, trying to figure out what the future holds for them, whether it be in those cities or elsewhere.

Very much a a sign and trade type scenario. And there’s a good amount of dictation on their end as where they can go if they choose to go that route as well. Depending on trade clauses and whatnot. Jump right over to the other side. How does free agency in major sports have anything to do with most people’s jobs?

Well, free agency. Either you left your job willingly or unfortunate, maybe you were part of layoffs and, there’s a lot of crossover there. What do you prefer? I think I can speak more from the candidate side. I mean, because that’s who we tend to work with. I think you have more input on the client side, but from a candidate standpoint, ask yourself, what do you value?

Where do you feel most comfortable? What type of role? And really understand that and target your search that way. When it comes to companies, you like the industry they’re in. And you’re going to go through interview processes, use it as a tool If you don’t get that job, to learn maybe about what you don’t want and what you do want, and then cater your search that way.

That’s kind of where I would take it from a candidate standpoint. Yeah, and of course we always like to highlight both sides of the argument. I think the easiest way to do that is, in this country, there’s something called at will employment. And basically what that means is the employee or the employer can terminate the relationship at any time for any reason.

So long as that reason is not illegal. No discrimination of any kind. But, it’s a freedom that we’re all afforded this opportunity. So we don’t need to be stuck in any scenario that’s not the best for us. In my opinion, at will employment generally favors the employee, the candidate. You’re not locked into a contract for X number of years.

There’s no penalties for you leaving certain things, aside from the typical 401k, some benefic stuff, very minor in the grand scheme of things. Burning bridges, maybe. Just throwing that out there. Potentially, depending on the way you do it. Yes. But, it gives you the opportunity to move on to new roles, new companies, very freely.

The company’s given the same freedom. But typically, I would say maybe 9 times out of 10 at a succeeding company, it’s the employee who’s taking advantage of the at will side of that. Yeah, and I can understand that. I mean, I’ve-

I think we’ve both have had people hired that, start with our other company, we got ’em hired for, and then two weeks later they’re already gone because someone came and offered them.

A bigger salary and maybe they got rejected the first time around and then that company had something go on, so they re-offered it. It’s a tough thing. We obviously want to preach loyalty, but at the same time, what do employers always preach? Loyalty and show their loyalty? No, so I get both sides, like candidates doing what’s best for them in the short, and maybe if it does turn into the long term, but you know that at will, it’s, I guess to talk about 4th of July, it’s one of the freedoms that we have.

We aren’t locked in, we cannot be forced to do anything that we don’t want. But there’s a whole other side to that coin as far as taking your licks here and there. But there is a fine line to dabble with there. Absolutely. And we will jump over to the employer side, but you already started touching on the candidate side.

How would you recommend your candidates go about that search as a free agent, if you will. As a candidate. I mean, you got to vet these companies just as much as they’re vetting you. They’re going to ask about your history. So, have you been successful in past roles? And ask them the same thing.

Do people find success in this role that are currently in it? What is your company projecting? Like, do the research. I mean, not only does it help you understand the situation you may end up in, but I, from an employer standpoint, like they want to see that. They want to see that. It’s not combative, but it’s trying to see where maybe there’s smoke, if you will.

So I think again, just do your research and vet as much as you can, ask the right questions. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You don’t have to accept a job you don’t want to. That’s true. You can go as quickly or slowly as you’d like to. Again, this whole point of this is, you’re not locked into anything.

You’re not tied down. But we always have to put that disclaimer in that don’t take it for granted because employers have the same freedom and the same rights that you do in terms of this. Looking at it from an employer side, how should an employer go about their search? We touched on what candidates can do.

Vetting is an important part of it. Obviously the interview process does that from an employer standpoint. We touched on it last episode. Are you committed to hiring? It’s a huge commitment, a big undertaking, especially for your hiring managers, anyone interviewing throughout the process, the recruiters you work with, and the candidates involved. So, for lack of a better term, don’t halfass it. Because it’s not going to work out in your favor. Yeah. And you have to be committed to it.

I was explained to it by someone else, when you’re on the recruiting side, like you’re on the staffing side like we are, recruiting is our sole priority. We can’t actually say that for our clients, that’s why they’re utilizing us in the first place. But there has to be that buy-in. Like if you don’t think you should hire someone, you’re probably not going to pay attention to it. So is it approved financially around the company? Is it a need? And is it something that is a top priority?

Because those are the things that can either make or break a candidate experience, success in hiring. So, those are the things you got to ask yourself as an employer. And ask yourself like, where do you see yourself? Like if you’re hiring, how many people do you think you need to actually see, speak with, in order to feel comfortable?

We’ve touched on this before, like don’t wait for the nibble. There’s not always going to be that unicorn that you’re expecting. So if you are hiring and committed, go with someone that you know you like. Don’t always wait for the greener pasture, if you will. Yeah, I think the stigma that you always have to see X number of candidates to make an informed decision.

It’s kind of farfetched. I mean, you work with recruitment professionals, whether they’re internal recruiters, whether they’re an agency or working with like a Hirewell, if they’re doing their job and they’re doing their job to the best of their abilities, the people that they’re putting in front of you are strong candidates.

And maybe depending on the market, you might find 10 strong candidates. Fantastic. Love that for you. But in some areas you might find one. Maybe if you’re lucky, you find two. You can’t wait around because I guarantee you those top candidates, they’re not waiting around. I don’t know about you, Louie. From my standpoint, I’ve seen a slight increase in multiple offers in front of one person at one time, seen a decrease in people responding, looking for new work, because they’re getting a lot of attention from a lot of different areas if they have a very niche skillset that is ever increasing.

I work for a client, they work in the food industry and they have an ERP system. Not many people have the specific skillset from a development standpoint that they need. And so finding those are very difficult when we find one, we jump on it. All this to say, don’t wait around, build out a process and stick to a timeline that you set for yourselves.

Yeah. And every role there’s going to be more or less people that fit the mold. The ones that are a little bit more broad don’t require a specific experience. Yeah, you might need to go through 15-20. Whereas a role like you’re hiring. Those are the Damian Lillards, the James Harden’s, like those are the guys that get to dictate a little bit because they are such a commodity.

There’s not many of those people that check those specific boxes. So as an employer, as a team, you got to hunt for those people, make them the best offer and make sure that because it’s so limited, you’re getting that person. You can’t fail at that because it’s not like you can just go pluck another candidate or another James Harden out of the bucket because they’re one every 100, one every 2000, whatever it is.

So, the quality of the talent, how niche the role is. Like a lot of these do come into effect when talking about free agency and looking for your next job. So, got to evaluate this like we have from a candidate and the employer standpoint. That’s a great segue into the two minute drill to take us home.

We keep saying this, it’s a very volatile market. From an employer standpoint, you hit the nail on the head, you got to be aggressive. You can’t be passive in these half-hearted searches. If you need something, you’ve got to go get it. If you find someone that fits the criteria and you’re excited about them, don’t waste your time.

Louie, from a candidate standpoint, what can we do in this market for them? Keep working at it. I know it’s not easy. Apply. Readjust as far as where you’re searching because maybe your interests change. Maybe you’re learning more about yourself. So do your homework as much as these employers are, and really make sure that when you’re applying,

you’re applying to places you can see yourself working. Don’t waste your time just spraying and praying and hoping that your email finds the inbox of someone random on a company that you might not even really like. So be targeted, be strategical. And I’m hoping that these help you folks who are looking for jobs. A couple of these tips really help out.

I think for the most part on both sides, creating a plan and sticking to it is a simple key to success. From a 76er standpoint, you got to trust the process and something will come up down the road. Yeah. Yeah. No. And what a way to segue back to sports as always. And disclaimer, I’m thinking Embiid might end up being traded at some point if they can’t figure it out there.

Ooh. That’s a hard one to hear if you’re a Sixers fan. Yeah, sorry. I don’t know many, so. That’s okay, I got a couple, but. Always come full circle on this show, so. Yes. Well, on behalf of, Louis and myself, thank you once again for tuning into the Hirewell Hot Corner. Please do join us again in two weeks for our next episode. And as always, stay classy LinkedIn.


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