What do the New England Patriots Offensive Line, Candidates and Hiring Managers Have in Common?

Despite their respectable 2-1 record to start the season, the New England Patriots are struggling. There are several key reasons for their sputtering offense. Some point to Tom Brady’s age and declining abilities. Others point to his less than stellar stable of pass receivers. Many point to the offensive line and their inability to consistently and cohesively provide Brady with adequate protection.

It’s hard not to agree with the offensive line issue, yet there may be a reason behind the reason. Gone are the Patriots’ long-time offensive line guru and coach, Dante Scarnecchia and six-time Pro Bowl veteran lineman Logan Mankins. Granted, Mankins is entering elder-statesman status as a 32-year-old and has likely lost a step or two. However, there’s something both Scarnecchia and Mankins brought to the offensive line that is not easily replaced: mentorship.

Ok, enough with the sports reference as I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The point, however, is there are people in our lives who provide immense inspiration, guidance and influence. One of the strongest, most valuable and often overlooked forces is that of mentors. And sometimes, as in the case of the Patriots’ current plight, we don’t realize the full impact of mentors until they’re gone.

Some of the brightest and most impressive people I’ve met are those who all along, have sought out and continue to seek out mentors. So what does this have to do with candidates, hiring managers and the hiring process? Quite a bit.

Candidates’ motivations for making career moves span across a broad spectrum, from compensation to company culture, and product to profitability. All these impetuses are important and deserve respect and attention. Yet, when a candidate includes the yearning for greater mentorship, my ears perk up. This alone speaks to several important intangible attributes that hiring managers ought to prioritize: coachability, sense of initiative, resourcefulness, self-awareness, and self-development.

These candidates get it. They understand that as people’s careers progress, they themselves need to evolve as well. They appreciate how learning doesn’t stop with school and that the day someone thinks they’ve attained the pinnacle of knowledge and vision, they’ve lost their edge.

For hiring managers, mentorship ought to take on multiple connotations. First, they should tune in to candidates’ interest in and drive for mentoring as it speaks to thought processes, priorities, and a variety of intangible attributes. Secondly, as part of the onboarding process for new hires, some sort of an assigned mentor program would likely produce a number of benefits for all involved. Most notably, it would spark an expedited employee ramp-up period as well as send a strong message to the employee that their new employer truly values them and cares about their behalf. Taking it to the next logical step, ongoing mentoring programs within companies can bolster both job satisfaction and employee retention.

Specific to the job search, interviewing and hiring processes, both candidates and hiring managers can help themselves by seeking out mentors. Candidates can rely on former managers, colleagues, career coaches, and trusted recruiters to provide helpful job hunting, interviewing and career direction guidance. Similarly, hiring managers should turn to other hiring managers, colleagues and trusted recruiters for interviewing, candidate selection and offer negotiations advice.

Just as the Patriots’ offensive line contends with different scenarios and unique challenges on every play, no two hiring processes are the same. There are simply way too many variables involved to make it predictable and cookie cutter. Thus, candidates and hiring managers can greatly benefit from relying on others’ perspectives to help them navigate through the many nuances found in every resume, interview and offer situation.

For multiple reasons and countless circumstances, mentorship should be on the forefront of every candidate and hiring manager. As for the Patriots, perhaps some mentorship from Matt Light and John Hannah couldn’t hurt.


Action items:

  1. For candidates, proactively seek out coaches who can help you optimize the development of your career. Be prepared to discuss with hiring managers how you’ve sought out mentoring along the way and how you’ve integrated mentors’ advice into your approach.
  1. If candidates don’t bring it up, hiring managers should ask candidates about mentors and specifically how they benefitted from them.
  1. If anyone knows of a stellar, stout offensive lineman in need of a job, please give Bill Belichick a call.

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