I love this time of year- not just because the flowers are blooming and the days are longer and warmer, but because it’s March which means one main thing: March Madness.

And no, I’m not talking about the madness regarding outrageous gas prices or my raging allergies, but THE March Madness aka NCAA basketball tournament.  The tournament that sports fans refer to as “the Big Dance”.  So as I stared at my dismembered bracket, reviewing the past weekend of the unexpected outcomes and looking towards the Sweet Sixteen and then the championship, it dawned on me: this tournament is a lot like the world of staffing, recruiting and process of landing that dream job.
SAY WHAT? Beyond the wins, losses, missed dunks and fouls, there is more to basketball so bear with me as I break it down.

1. Regular Season= Experience & Resume

All season long teams compiled of different talent from various geographies, school size, backgrounds and skill level practice and play hard with one goal in mind: a winning season and invitation to the Big Dance.  Sound familiar?? Talent vastly varies from industry to market to skillset to location …and the list goes on. But they all have one goal in mind, landing that dream job.  It’s what we all work so hard for right? So how do you prepare? How do you stand out from the others to get recognized for a chance and an invite to the “Big Game?”

2. Landing the invitation= Chance to Interview

You worked hard, put in your time, listened to your coaches and mentors, practiced and practiced some more……..and you made it: an invitation to the Big Dance. Your dream interview. For athletes and candidates alike- all the practice and experience has led to this moment. You proved you are worthy, got yourself noticed, received the recruiter call that YOU were chosen and now it’s your time to shine.

3. The Preliminaries: Interview Process

You are prepared; dressed and ready in uniform, waiting in the locker room and receiving a pep talk (from coach or recruiter) and it’s finally time to play the game. Some teams (candidates) are seeded higher than others just based on where they went to school or previous performance. But rankings aside, you made it and you go out to the court, remember all your coaching and play the best you can. Every tournament has multiple rounds and you have to come out of the gate strong as there are no second chances. You can’t blow it or you’re out of the running right away. Only you can control your performance at this point.

4. Championship: Job Offer

You did it! You played YOUR game, fought through all the other challenges and meetings along the way and won.  You performed the best you could and gave it your all.  Maybe you were the front-runner and everyone expected you to be there. Or maybe you were the “Cinderella Story” and surprised all by your superior performance. Regardless of how you got there, you did it.  You fought hard, performed, got the offer and won the Big Dance.  Congratulations! You deserve it!!!

But the celebration can’t last forever. Just because you won this tournament, it doesn’t mean it’s over. At the top of your game, others will look up to you but you still have plenty to learn.  As long as you are in the game, you must continue to practice and improve your skills. On and off the court, there will always competition—it is up to each team, recruiter & candidate, to see that the next opportunity will be a slam dunk.