On the Bubble: The Similarities Between the NCAA Basketball Tournament and Finding a Job

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Josh Tolan, Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, draws some interesting comparisons between Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament and the process of finding a job.

Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire Inc.

Today, ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, and ESPNU will host 13 hours of coverage on the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The overwhelming amount of air time is dedicated to Selection Sunday. For those of you who aren’t sports fans, Selection Sunday is an annual occurrence where the 68-team field for the NCAA Basketball Tournament is selected. Of the 68 available spots in the “Big Dance,” 31 are reserved as automatic bids for conference champions. The remaining 37 spots are awarded to teams that a 10-person selection committee sees as the best of the rest.

The committee bases their decision regarding “who’s in?” and “who’s out?” on several factors. When listening to the coverage, you may hear analysts discuss a team’s strength of schedule, the quality of their conference, good wins, and bad losses. This pool of factors makes up a college basketball team’s résumé. Some teams possess résumés which will easily secure them a spot in the tournament while others find themselves on the “bubble.”

Like every year, everyone can count on a team with a seemingly solid résumé to not make the tournament. Coaches, players, fans, and analysts will question the decision of the committee. While the argument may be a valid one, it comes down to this: when teams have similar résumés, the selection committee must use what the college basketball world refers to as the “eye test.” The principle behind the eye test is simple: When one watches two comparable teams play, who is the better team? (Check out this article about the Washington Huskies and the Eye Test) The goal of the selection committee is to put the best teams in the tournament—so what is more important: the résumé or the eye test?

All this talk of résumés may make one think about the process of finding a job. It can be said that Selection Sunday is to college basketball teams what applying for a job is to job seekers. Both the team and the job seeker have a résumé which will heavily influence the decision makers in the respective processes. However, often times, the résumé cannot convey the overall quality of the college basketball team and the job seeker.

The difference between the college basketball tournament selection process and the process of applying for a job is that college basketball teams have the opportunity to impress the selection committee with their season full of televised or taped games. When sifting through job seeker paper résumés, an employer is frequently faced with the dilemma of deciding between candidates with identical looking qualifications. Job seekers may list their best qualities such as communication skills and charisma in bullet points on their résumé, but how is an employer to judge such critical characteristics?

Job seekers need to find a way to stand out from the competition. They must start taking advantage of tools like video résumés to get in front of decision makers and demonstrate their skills that are not conveyed by their standalone résumés. Fortunately, there are platforms out there, SparkHire.com being one of them, that allow job seekers to record video résumés.

So if you’re an “on the bubble” job candidate, it’s time to start thinking about utilizing a video résumé to show employers why they should hire you. Hopefully like the “eye test” helps college basketball teams get into the tournament, a video résumé will help you secure an interview.

This article was written by Josh Tolan. Josh is the Founder and CEO of SparkHire.com, a new video-based job board which helps job seekers easily connect with companies looking to hire. The original blog post may be found here.

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