Matt Resnick, Sports Talent Acquisition Executive - Work In Sports Podcast

By Brian Clapp | January 06, 2021

Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning at WorkInSports.com and this is the Work in Sports podcast…

There is a theme already clearly presenting itself in 2021 - get back to work. 

I didn’t have to spend a lot of time workshopping that theme, there wasn’t a lot of debate or struggle -- it’s clear as day. 

 


 

2020 wrecked a lot of people. Careers were put on hold, bills became hard to pay,health was in question, it became hard to see a bright future --- everyone, in some way or another was knocked down. 

I don’t mean this to sound trivial, and I’m not minimizing the pain people are going through -- but it’s time to get back up. 

I tend to be someone who visualizes a lot. I’m what you call a visual learner, if I drive somewhere once, I’ll never forget how to get there again, because I can see it in my mind. If I am shown how to do something, whether that is fixing the plumbing or running a report in google analytics, it sticks. 

Because I know myself and what impacts me the most, I conduct a lot of visualization exercises throughout my day. Sometimes certain visuals get stuck in my mind on a loop, and there are two that keep resonating with me, and are indicative of 2020.

#1 is from my fav movie of all-time, Good Will Hunting, if you haven’t seen it, go, now, do it. It holds up. Some movies don’t stand the test of time, this one does. 

There is a scene where Robin Williams who plays a psychologist, is trying to help the troubled boy genius Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, by looking him in the eyes and saying over and over again each time with more meaning and feeling “it’s not your fault”, which eventually makes the tough skinned Hunting break down and cry. 

That’s 2020 for you people. It’s not your fault. 

That’s a realization we all need - but it’s not enough. Just realizing it isn’t your fault is a good start, but it also puts you on the edge of excuse making. 

It’s not my fault… so let’s go grab another bag of doritos and watch UNC-Greensboro play Wofford on ESPN plus. 

Nope - that’s not the visualization, or reality, we want. 

It’s time to channel your inner Herb Brooks. The rousing pre-game speech from the movie Miracle, about the MIracle on Ice when the US defeated the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics. 

I’ll summarize it thusly --  “This is your time, now go out there and take it”

It’s not going to come to you, it’s not going to find you buried in a pile of misery, self-doubt and Cheetos and offer you salvation.

It’s on you to take it. 

 


 

This month, to get you focused on all the steps, strategies, and trends in hiring for 2021 we will feature interviews with three incredible people connected to sports Talent Acquisition. 

John Ferguson, VP of people and culture from Monumental Sports and Entertainment [Wizards, Capitals, Mystics, TV networks, eSports teams you name it] 

Kali Franklin, VP of Human Resources for NYCFC of the MLS 

And today’s guest Matt Resnick, former Director of People Acquisition for the Madison Square Garden company -- Knicks, Rangers.

After graduating from Florida State in 2004 Matt has really done it all in sports -- he started out in inside sales, worked in youth sports, transitioned to the agency side, and then for the last seven years has been focused on recruiting and talent acquisition, most recently with the Madison Square Garden company which is about as big as it gets in sports.

What is really cool and unique about this interview, is that Matt and MSG decided to part ways in the fall, so he is taking all of his knowledge and applying it right now to his own personal search… and he’s really had to look deep inside into what works and why… and he’s sharingit during this conversation. 

Here’s Matt Resnick.

 

Questions for Matt Resnick, Sports Talent Acquisition Executive

 

1: There is a ton I want to ask you about talent acquisition in the sports industry, the future of our industry, trends, pet peeves, what makes people stand out, what it’s like to represent hiring for one of sports most iconic brands – I mean there is so much to dig into, but let’s start with you and how you got where you are. 

Sports Management Major at Florida State – what was the plan early on and when did you know sports was the path you wanted to follow for your career?

2: Like so many people in sports you started out in sales – inside sales with the Orlando Magic. What was this experience like for you in sales? Even though it didn’t turn out to be your long-term career, I imagine the experience taught you a lot about the industry and revenue creation, right?

3: Looking at your work history in a way you’ve had multiple careers - sales with an NBA team,  working for a sports agency, you ran basketball combines and recruited athletes. 

We have a lot of young people in our audience who fit into the “undecided” category – they love sports but aren’t sure what to do with their career. As someone who has travelled that winding path, what advice would you give someone towards discovering their fit in the industry?

4: When did you get drawn into the idea of recruiting and talent acquisition? What were those defining moments that said “ok, this is for me.”

 


 

5: Over the last 5 years you’ve been the Director of People Acquisition for Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks – an amazing role. 

Before we get into the recruitment process and the strategies the people in our audience should utilize – you, someone with decades of experience in the industry, were a victim of layoffs with MSG back in October – what has the last few months been like for you as you go from recruiting others, to job seeking yourself?

6: Let’s get into the fun stuff – your advice will make a huge difference for our audience. We’ll start wide and then narrow into some specifics – in your 5 years with MSG and two decades in the sports industry, what were the emerging trends in talent acquisition that you saw – were there certain roles growing in demand? Some that were harder to fill than others?  

7: Sales jobs have always been a huge part of our industry, but obviously coronavirus has dramatically impacted that sector. Are there other ways you see the industry shifting and changing as a result of this pandemic?

8: Let’s get into hiring tactics – you have a requisition open up with MSG, I imagine thousands of people want to work for the Knicks and MSG and are applying like crazy every time a job opens up – how do you start to narrow the field so you can find the best candidates?

9: When I was in hiring, not at your level, but when I had to – it was phone interview to narrow the field, video interview to narrow it even further, then the final 2-3 candidates it’s face-to-face, bring them into the office, talk to 10 other people, get sign off, make offer. 

I talk to a lot of people that don’t make it past the phone interview…so tell us, from your seasoned perspective, what are you looking for and listening for during a phone interview? 

10: What about the next steps – video or face-to-face – the further you get in the process, does it really just come down to who is the best cultural fit, or are you still evaluating skills?    

11: The biggest frustration job seekers have is just getting noticed. It’s hard enough in a normal economy, but this is a very unique time. I realize the exact skill profile for each role is different, but are there certain universal skills, or attributes, that help someone stand out from the pack? Certain things that caught you eye, or you knew translated toward someone being a good match for the MSG work/life/culture?

12: Over my career I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes and cover letters – I imagine you’ve done that for 10x the number I have – what are some of your pet peeves, or even just parts of the process that job seekers execute poorly?

13: Another question I get a lot is “I just had an interview, it went really well, it’s been 4 days… should I reach out?” So I ask you, expert in the field, what is the right way for a candidate to follow up professionally, without being a bother or being pushy?

14: Personally, I am awful at negotiation. My first gig at CNN/Sports Illustrated I think I accepted without even hearing what they were going to pay me. My bags were packed and I was headed down to Atlanta without knowing a damn thing. 

What are some basics of negotiating an offer, from all your various experiences in the industry, that can help guide our audience?

15: We’ll finish up with this, people are surprised when I tell them that Diversity and Inclusion is a relatively new focus in the sports industry. I believe this attention makes us better and more representative as an industry. What are other trends you’d like to see additional focus on in regard to hiring? 


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