How to turn an underdog candidate into a Cinderella story

Everyone loves a good underdog story (or Cinderella story, as it’s often called in basketball) and with the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament underway, you’ll be hearing a lot about those underdog teams that were an unlikely pick for the tournament and may not have much of a chance against higher ranked schools.

Underdogs are beloved for a reason: when they win it’s just that much sweeter. Watching a team overcome adversity, work hard, play their hearts out and come back to win it all is a version of the American Dream we can all recognize—and it happens all the time.

Just last year, University of Maryland, Baltimore County was the No. 16 seed in the South, meaning they were in the bottom of the heap in their region. It was also only their second appearance in the tournament. They were the underdog (literally; their mascot is a labrador retriever). However, in the first round, the team beat University of Virginia 74-54 and became the first No. 16 team to defeat a No. 1 seeded team in the tournament’s 80-year history. UMBC didn’t win it all, but they had the most memorable and historical victory of last year’s tournament.

Loyola-Chicago was another underdog that surprised a lot of basketball fans in 2018. As the No. 11 seed in the South, they were (probably) not anyone’s pick to go all the way. But they did. Almost. Loyola-Chicago managed to play their way all the way to the Final Four, making them one of just four No. 11 seeds to ever make it that far.

Underdog basketball teams have a way of surprising us—and so can underdog candidates. You’ve seen those candidates with a resume less impressive than another candidate’s, but with the drive and performance potential to make them more memorable—and more successful in the long term. You are your client’s bracketologist—studying candidates’ history, stats and records—and they rely on you to know what makes a great candidate. Here are some ways you can help convince them to give the underdog candidate a shot.

They value a good team

Underdog candidates who have only had one job in the profession but have years of experience at that job show dedication to their team. Odds are, they’ve seen people come and go and have learned to work with those individuals, proving they have patience and flexibility. They are unselfish players and can take on extra work, teach others and step up to help out whenever and wherever needed. These candidates are able to quickly fit into any workplace culture and instantly prove their value.

They have good coaches

Let’s say you have a candidate with limited experience but excellent recommendations. A good coach will take the time to perfect the team they have, working hard to build each member so they can operate effectively as one. A good coach recognizes potential in a player and is able to turn that potential into reality. They help hone the extincts of their players and help them sharpen their skills. These underdog players have the coaching that will help them succeed no matter where they go.

They know their value

Most the time, underdogs know they’re underdogs. They know their resume doesn’t stand out so they may seek jobs thinking they have nothing to lose. They’re humble and are grateful for any opportunity. They work harder than others because they understand there is always something for them to learn. They’re striking because they know their value and never overestimate themselves. They’re not cocky or overconfident. They’re just ready to take on whatever comes their way.

Just like underdog teams have a way of busting brackets, with the right coaching and expertise, your underdog candidates may surprise clients with their talent. Providing opportunities for an underdog to shine is a great way to turn an unlikely MPC (most placeable candidate) into your client’s next MVP.

Put an underdog in your bracket and you may just win it all.

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Breanne Bleichroth

Breanne Bleichroth is a copywriter and SEO expert. She uses her journalism experience to create fresh, compelling and custom content for our clients—always with the reader in mind.
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