What Recruitment Can Learn from Collingwood Football Club

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to Derek Hine, List Manager of Collingwood Football Club, about recruitment at a premiership winning side and it was one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had.

Even if you do not follow the Australian Football League (AFL), it is fascinating, as a recruiter, to understand how top footy clubs do what Derek does and how it can be applied to a talent management in a VUCA business world.

As the key person responsible for spotting, attracting, screening and contracting elite athletes, Derek says he operates in the “futures market” and is constantly “trying to look at what happens in three, four years’ time”. Players are categorised into their positions, profiled according to their ages and analysed individually to determine a suitable succession plan. It is a very detailed process that ensures his club is able to consistently bring through talented players that fit the ethos and motto of the team – Side by Side.

.@trevorpvas shares 6 tips to recruiting a #GrandFinals winning team (or 1st class corporate team) Click To Tweet

So here are some premiership tips that I’d gleaned from my conversation with Derek to help you recruit a Grand Finals winning team (or a first class corporate team).

number 1You need to understand your talent needs (demand)whether you’re an internal or agency recruiter do you have exactly the same view of your future talent needs as your top executives or clients?

Derek has an intimate relationship with the team and understands the medium and long term needs of Collingwood Football Club. He is clear about team shape and what success looks like. He also meets with Nathan Buckley, Head Coach of Collingwood Football Club, and Football Manager Neil Balme regularly to discuss the running of the club and analyse the areas for improvement.

number 2You need to understand the future supply of talentare you constantly looking for amazing talent and do you know where that talent is and how to attract them? In addition, if you spot great talent can you create a job to hire them?

Derek has amazing foresight and a great understanding of the player market. He creates contacts with a number of talent spotters and travels constantly to meet new people. He is also always on the lookout for talent with an x-factor and understands how to attract them.

number 3You need to have a direct line of access to key decision makershow many Internal Recruitment Managers report directly to the business? How aligned is your recruitment strategy to the success of the business?

Derek reports directly to the Collingwood Football Club’s Board of Directors and he has clear KPIs to help guide him with his work. In addition, all meetings regarding future list requirements are recorded to ensure that the management team are aware of the reasons they went a certain direction during that point in time.

number 4You need to understand the team culture how finely tuned are your recruitment processes? How well do your recruiters understand the culture of your organisation and what it takes for a person to succeed?

Having been in this role for 12 years, Derek has an intimate understanding of what it takes to be successful at Collingwood Football Club. He understands the culture perfectly and is extremely aware of what is required in a player for him to fit into the team – and he actively seeks for these types of talent.

number templateYou need to understand the key factors that build skills or character how clearly does your team understand the lead indicators or metrics to identify great talent?

Derek recognises sportsmen who play 360 degree sports that have had to take on other jobs to support themselves and those who proactively learned new skills to improve themselves can make great footballers. He understands the markers and lead indicators and is able to intuitively identify these talents.

6Investment is necessary to ensure continual success – how many internal recruitment functions plan for innovation? What level of justification is required for an internal function to hire the best talent available?

Collingwood have invested over $25M on player development and they are investing more to ensure they continue to bring through world class talent. They are always looking to get an edge over their competitors and to put themselves in the best position to win the next premiership.

Love them or hate them, you have to acknowledge that Collingwood Football Club is an extremely well run and forward thinking professional sports club. Their talent spotting strategies are world class and are most definitely applicable across all types of recruitment function.

These are good lessons to pick up for everyone and, who knows, you just might be the one to spot the next Scott Pendlebury or Dane Swan (or that star product engineer for the recruitment job you just picked up)!

Derek Hine will be sharing further insights into Collingwood Football Club’s recruitment strategies at the ATC2016 in July. Tickets are available now.

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4 Responses to “What Recruitment Can Learn from Collingwood Football Club”

  1. Hey Trevor and BK great article well done.

    Not sure where Derek is in the agenda but maybe he should be a keynote?

    I would like to add further comments.

    All what you talked about really comes down to execution (the people identifying, engaging, recruiting and managing the team, the Derek’s) which I believe is your competitive advantage, not the technology, facilities, money etc…)

    If you look at most of the AFL clubs (or most professional sporting clubs whatever the code) they have similar resources at hand. Some may have more money, more attractive brand and better facilities to train and develop their team but it’s people like Derek that ultimately make the different. They are the difference between winning the premiership (recruiting the best candidates).

    If I relate this to recruitment, how many recruiting leaders and team members see their role like Derek?

  2. Stan Rolfe

    As a West Coast Eagles tragic and sports aficionado I love this article. Talent Acquisition can learn so much from other sectors such as elite team sports.
    Looking at Derek’s profile and experience he’s toiled away for a decade with the same club, worked his way up to the seat at the table. I’m pretty sure there was not an expectation to get to the table straight away. It would take hard work, strong relationships, and a few lessons learnt along the way.
    Whilst I agree with Martin’s comments around having more Derek’s around, how many TA leaders have worked their way up and stuck around to get that seat at the table. Not many.
    I’m looking forward to meeting Derek and hearing him speak at ATC.

  3. Good point Stan so why do TA Leaders stay around like Derek?


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