5 Lessons Being a Golf Pro Taught Me About Recruitment

Alan Larby golfing
If we’ve met before, I may have shared that I used to play golf at a professional level. It was a passion that started when I was a teenager, and I eventually played my way from slogging it in the sand dunes to competing in elite level amateur and professional events globally.

I’m not sure what first attracted to me to the sport, but it gets under your skin and I found myself driven by the challenge, captivated by the strategy, and revelling in the variety of courses and natural surroundings golf offers.

While I no longer play professionally, those years of giving it my all definitely impacted how I approach work and life now.

Here are 5 lessons that playing pro golf taught me about being a better recruiter…

1. Everyone plays the game at their own pace

When you expand your golf game beyond playing alone or with people you know, you quickly find yourself up against anyone from a 9 year old to an experienced retiree.

Golf is a sport that attracts almost every demographic, and playing alongside a diverse group of people taught me a lot about preconceptions. Put simply, never judge a golfer by their cover!

As a recruiter now, I never assume someone is unfit for a role just because of their age or background.

People are people – and you need to get to know them before you decide if they’re right for a certain role. This is why I take the time to get to know my candidates properly with in-person interviews and profiling tools because the more I understand who they are the better placed I am to find them the perfect position.

2. Resilience is worth its weight in gold

Imagine training for over a decade, paying a fortune to travel and stay overseas, and then flunking out in a tournament after the first round.

This has probably happened to every professional golfer ever, and it happened to me. But times like these taught me one of the most important skills you can have in life (and recruitment!): resilience.

Every recruiter experiences tough times when things don’t go their way. When I have one of “those days” now, I draw on my resilience and take a quick walk around the block to gain perspective and reset.

At the end of the day, the job still has to get done. So if you keep your eyes on the prize, don’t let bad days get personal and keep improving, you will be better positioned for success.

3. Keep your expectations in check

Frustration in life often comes from unmet expectations. In golf as in life, disappointment would come from unrealistic expectations. If I missed my mark, I would often feel completely underwhelmed.

On the other hand, when I kept my expectations (and emotions) in check, I generally had a great time and performed a lot better.

As a recruiter, I carry this with me and try to monitor my expectations regularly when dealing with clients or candidates. When something doesn’t pan out as I had expected, I remember that the only correction I need to make is me.

This helps me keep my eyes on the outcome and move quickly past any roadblocks that pop up along the way.

4. Play the long game

Whether you’re on the putting green or hitting balls at the driving range, getting good at golf means playing the long game and being prepared to put in the hours and effort to improve.

When you commit to the long game, you automatically accept that you need patience and determination. You can’t give up after your first disappointment…or even your 10th! You just keep showing up with the focus and conviction you had on day one.

Becoming a valued recruiter also takes time and focus. You need a strategy to improve – and then you need to stick with it rain, hail or shine.

Every 1% improvement you make stacks up, and the long term investment in yourself and your career eventually pays off.

5. Refine your craft

No matter what sport you play or how far you advance, you never stop refining your skills. The second you take a backseat is the second a competitor overtakes you.

I like to apply the same thinking to my role as a recruiter, and never stop trying to do better. There is always an opportunity to develop your skills, find a better way, and refine your practice so you can stay ahead of the game.

When I look back on my golfing days I remember all the highlights – like winning the New Brighton Cup and the Cammeray Cup, and playing on legendary courses such as St Andrews in Scotland, Congressional in Washington DC, or Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania. And while I put down my clubs for a more settled life in Canberra, I’ll always enjoy getting out there and playing a round for fun or charity.

Perhaps there is a hobby or lifelong passion of yours that helps you do your job better. I believe it’s up to us to reflect on and harness the skills we learn in those areas, and consciously apply them to help us do better in our lives and our work every day.