If you’re like me, you love the show Ted Lasso (and you’ve probably been hearing a lot about him as the show has skyrocketed in popularity and accolades during the pandemic!). The beloved Apple TV+ comedy is a new favorite of mine, and while watching, I find that time and time again Ted shares great advice that can be applied to leadership, work, and life, in general. His advice can especially apply to recruiters and hiring talent.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Ted Lasso, along with advice for winning the recruitment game. (Beware of spoilers ahead!)
1 – “Hey, takin’ on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.”
Ted, a successful American football coach, is recruited to coach the AFC Richmond soccer team in England. When Ted is traveling across the pond, he contemplates his career change. While the whole world seems to think he’s making a bad move, he’s confident that he’s doing the right thing and will grow into the role, saying “Hey, takin’ on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.”
When recruiting new talent, should the top candidate be a “perfect fit” for the role, or can they upskill and rise to the challenge? A little discomfort can be a sign of growth and change. When you spot talent that might not be a perfect, traditional fit for a role, consider putting them in, coach.
2 – “Be curious, not judgmental”
Although someone you’re interviewing might be more than capable of performing a role, they might not be a great interviewee. Be sure to ask open-ended questions that invite the candidate to tell you more about their past professional experience, interests, and where they want to grow professionally. You might just hit the bullseye and find a perfect candidate.
3 – “All right, fellas, you gotta remember, your body is like day-old rice. If it ain’t warmed up properly, something real bad could happen.”
When Ted first arrives in England and is unexpectedly interviewed by the press, they relentlessly ask him questions about his experience and how he’ll be successful in this new role. When he takes a sip of bottled water, he forgets it was sparkling … cue spit take. Wow, embarrassing. If Ted had a heads up and practiced responding to press questions, he could have avoided the rough start to his soccer coaching career.
Help your candidates prepare for an interview by performing a mock interview with them—a warm-up, if you will, before the big game. Go through their top experience they should highlight, help them prepare a few talking points, and ask them a few tough questions that could come up in the interview. The better you prepare them, the less likely they’ll come across as a “wanker” like Ted did.
4 – “You know how they say youth is wasted on the young, I say don’t let the wisdom of age be wasted on you.”
As a recruiter, you know exactly how to interview and probably notice a lot of faux pas that your candidates have committed. Do they learn from those experiences, or are they even aware of their mistake?
Don’t let your wisdom go to waste! Be sure to offer up advice or recommend a book (like Ted would do) so your candidates can go on to perform better in future job interviews.
5 – “I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad. And that is being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.”
After Ted and his colleagues work hard all season to improve the team, they ultimately lose a match and are disappointed. A dejected locker room full of players needs a pep talk. Ted steps up and makes sure to let them know they worked hard and are not alone in their sad moment.
In recruiting—and in life—we don’t always get it right on the first try. Whether you didn’t meet a client’s expectations with the placement, or if a candidate is feeling rejected, be sure to find your people and come together as a community. This is especially true in remote working environments, where loneliness can easily creep in. So go the extra mile to tell your candidate they aren’t alone, or seek out a local or industry community group for your own personal support to go “onward, forward.”
6 – “I have a real tricky time hearing folks that don’t believe in themselves.”
You don’t need to be the head coach to make good ideas come to fruition. When Nate, the kit man, comes up with a new play for AFC to try, Ted encourages him to share and have confidence come through his voice. It’s important to not diminish your idea, even to yourself. If you don’t make others believe in you, they likely won’t.
Ted’s coaching of Nate’s confidence helps Nate rise in the ranks and prove himself as a knowledgeable football coach (and potential villain, but that’s beside the point).
Whether you’re a “Ted Lasso” watcher or not, his positive words of wisdom are the salve we all could use as the pandemic continues to impact our lives. For recruiters and all talent professionals who are challenged right now with intense workloads, tight deadlines and neverending open reqs, I hope these Lasso-isms can bring a smile and some levity to your day.