“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” – What Talent Acquisition Can Learn From Yogi Berra

The sports world lost a legend on Tuesday when Yogi Berra passed away at 90 years old. While he was

New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra poses at spring training in Florida, in an undated file photo. (AP Photo)

New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra poses at spring training in Florida, in an undated file photo. (AP Photo)

one of the greatest catchers of all time (18 All-Star appearances, 10 World Series Championships, 3-time American League MVP, Baseball Hall of Fame inductee), he was well-known in pop culture for his unique way of summing up life’s situations.

Some of my favorite Yogi quotes can apply to talent acquisition today.

  1. The lousy teams are good this year.” While Yogi was referring to the fact that the Yankees seemed to only lose to bad teams, this quote is key from a talent acquisition branding perspective. You know which companies have the best employment brands and easily attract top candidates because they are in every publication about top employers. Yes, I’m talking about Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, etc. We spend too much time in talent acquisition focused on being like these big brands and often overlook the small, lesser known companies who are employing unique strategies to attract the same top talent as your company. The lesson here is to be sure you know what everyone who is after the same talent as you are doing in talent attraction and branding, not just the “good teams.”
  2. “You can observe a lot by watching.” I would add to this quote, “’and listening.” As recruiters, we often approach our hiring managers and candidates with tons of information and lists of things they need to do, know or understand. We can be better talent advisors and candidate partners if we spend more time listening to their needs and concerns than talking at them.
  3. “If you don’t know where you are going, you might end up someplace else.” I am amazed at the number of talent acquisition professionals who don’t have (or don’t know) their goals. In our 2014 Employee Referral Trends survey, 25% of respondents said they don’t know what their referral program goals are. Not having goals for your hiring, your branding, or your individual recruiting programs is simply not acceptable. If you don’t have goals, how will you know where to focus innovation and improvement?
  4. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” I take this Yogi quote to mean that it is OK to go against the grain. Experiment with a new tool or approach that no one else is using. Don’t be afraid of failure; be afraid of never learning from failure. We are often way too cautious in talent acquisition because we hold ourselves to ridiculous standards of “perfection” and we let other people (executives) enforce those standards. Set aside a small amount of your budget and your time to try something new every year. You might be surprised at what you learn.

While we lost a legend this week, Yogi’s unique way of looking at the world will live on forever and those of us in talent acquisition can continue to learn from him.

What are some of your favorite Yogi quotes?

About Kara Yarnot

Kara founded Meritage Talent Solutions to provide tailored talent acquisition solutions to employers and employment services companies. Kara has over 17 years of leadership experience in talent acquisition and recruiting for several FORTUNE® 500 organizations, including Boeing, Intel, and SAIC.

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