Ex-hurdler’s advice for recruiters on finding ex-sports pros

If recruiters want to dip into the talent pool of ex-sports professionals, look for the parallels between performing in sport and in business.

The advice comes from Neil Owen, a director at international recruiter Robert Half, who competed at the 1995 World Athletics Championships in 110m hurdles for Great Britain. 

Owen, who progressed into a career in recruitment following the end of his athletics career and will soon celebrate his 20th year as a recruiter, called on agencies to define what success looks like.

At an event organised by Moving Ahead in which multiple paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE opened the London Stock Exchange yesterday [14 June], Owen called on recruitment leaders to ask the athlete the right questions to enable them to identify the skillsets they have and how to apply them to recruitment.

Owen told Recruiter these questions can include: What makes you successful? How did you go about being successful? How did you set that goal? How did you motivate yourself? How did you hold yourself to the self discipline to achieve that? How would you change course or task if it wasn’t working? How would you know if it wasn’t working?

“I think it’s up to the recruiter or the recruitment leader to ask the right questions and then apply that to our work environment,” Owen said.

“Your goal might be to Olympic or national champion but what’s your goal here? Define success. Define the goal and then how did you achieve that as an athlete – well, that’s how that will transfer into our environment.”

Owen added recruiters should also encourage former sports professionals coming to work for them to define their milestones of success using the goal setting process they have become accustomed to in sport.

Moving Ahead is an organisation that prepares athletes for life after sport and runs an Athlete-to-Business Mentoring Scheme, matching top athletes with business leaders, guiding them through a nine-month mentoring programme, supported by training events and materials.

The scheme aims to highlight the skills athletes possess that are transferable into the world of business.

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