Executives in the sports industry who have yet to embrace the benefits that the digital age brings to employee acquisition are missing the boat.

By Will Lloyd, Founder & CEO, Global Sports

The industry has never been more global or more competitive – the best talents have the whole world to aim at and organisations need to take full responsibility for their employee acquisition strategies if they want to attract the best of the best.

Building a talent acquisition strategy based on all the advantages that the digital age offers is essential. Those who don’t recognise and act on this face falling behind.

Prior to 2009, sports organisations struggled to present themselves effectively to a global employment market. The industry relied heavily on a small number of traditional recruitment agencies who had a limited pool of talent to work with. The smaller companies couldn’t compete with the larger organisations, and struggled to attract the best candidates.

But digital has changed all of that. Now every organisation, no matter how big or small, has the opportunity to present itself effectively to potential future employees from all over the world in a far more cost-effective manner than was available before. And, equally, potential applicants can access, review and assess every opportunity.

Traditional recruitment agencies are no longer an essential part of the employment process. Only the most sensitive of senior appointments require their input. In this digital age, employers need to take full control of their talent acquisition strategies.

We estimate that there are 10 million people employed in the sports industry worldwide. This suggests that there will be approximately one million vacancies each year. With that number of posts to fill, it’s not difficult to see how competitive talent acquisition is becoming.

Investment in sport continues to increase on a global scale and shows no signs of slowing. Take China, for example.

The market in China is leading the way under the new-found freedom for commercial investment that was granted by the State Council at the end of 2014. Projections of a $500billion per annum turnover by 2025 are looking entirely achievable. And the resulting impact on the Chinese employment market is significant with millions of new jobs expected to be created in the sports sector.

Commercial investment in China has already reached vast levels. In 2015, China Sports Media acquired broadcasting rights for the Chinese Super League (CSL) in a $1.3 billion five-year deal. That was followed by the country’s leading internet-based sports company, LeSports, paying $420 million for online multimedia rights. And the Chinese influence on international sports markets is as impressive as it is far reaching. The Wanda Group spent $1.2 billion on Infront Sports & Media, Chinese football clubs were the biggest spenders in the global transfer market in the 2016 winter window, and Chinese investment in European teams is growing rapidly.

As the Chinese market grows, its impact and influence on the rest of the world becomes more pronounced. Opportunities are being created at all levels and they are attracting the very best Chinese and non-Chinese candidates. That is against a background of a global industry that was already developing rapidly and, in turn, creating more and more opportunities.

To meet the challenges of this ever increasing global and competitive market, forward planning is essential. Every organisation needs to have in place a digital footprint that clearly communicates and demonstrates their appeal as an employer. This should be treated as seriously as every other organisational marketing strategy and no longer as an afterthought or ‘nice to have’.

When it comes to advertising your organisation’s jobs, your own website is unlikely to reach the quality of candidate that you are looking for. Attracting hundreds of inappropriate applications is an expensive waste of time, whereas partnering with a specialist platform that has a sophisticated filtering system ensures that you only receive applications from suitable candidates.

At Global Sports we are putting the responsibility for talent acquisition back into the hands of sports organisations and also providing the knowledge, insight and technology necessary to build a forward-thinking and effective employer brand strategy.

We advertise between 450 and 500 career opportunities per month and receive applications from over 170 countries. We are creating choice with equal opportunity for people inside and outside of the industry, which in turn raises the quality and diversity of talent. We are providing reach and immediacy through a product and network that delivers a sustainable approach to finding talent or opportunity.

This is a fast moving, competitive industry and employers must position themselves rapidly and effectively to reap the benefits.