Tom Brady versus Eli Manning: How quarterbacks’ strengths could help them in a job search

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This weekend, the New England Patriots will take on the New York Giants in what is sure to be an exciting Super Bowl game. As the game edges closer, there’s been tons of coverage analyzing the two teams, their strengths and weaknesses and the odds for and against each team winning.

Also being compared are the two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Eli Manning, so we thought it would be interesting to see how their qualities would help them in a job search. To assist, I enlisted Ben Finfer, producer and on-air host at 670-AM The Score in Chicago, who provided insight into both players’ strengths and weaknesses.

Quantifying accomplishments on a résumé
A strong résumé not only speaks to the success of a candidate but it also quantifies his success. Brady has many quantifiable results to share, including winning three National Football League championships and two championship Most Valuable Player awards, as well as holding the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single regular season. Manning, on the other hand, could play up his championship win in the 2007 season against the previously undefeated New England Patriots, showing that he can tackle even the toughest of challenges. Manning could also highlight his championship MVP win.

Both Brady and Manning have won numerous accolades and broken several records. So they would both need to be careful that their résumés don’t just turn into a long list of accomplishments, but instead highlight the accomplishments that pertain to the specific jobs for which they are applying.

Emphasizing strengths on a cover letter
Cover letters are where candidates can expand on both their hard and soft skills and give their “pitch” on why they are the best candidate for the job. Both Brady and Manning could use the cover letter to speak to their leadership experience, since quarterbacks are often seen as their team’s leader. They can also refer to how they are good in the clutch, meaning that they can turn things around in the fourth quarter to win a game. Giving specific examples of how they’ve done this will help paint a picture for prospective employers.

Performance during an interview
Some people are more naturally articulate than others and can handle high-pressure situations without appearing nervous, while others hone their speaking and performance skills through practice and experience. While Brady’s charisma may make him more of a natural at giving media interviews, both have had plenty of experience talking to reporters, since, as Finfer points out, quarterbacks are often their team’s spokesman. Brady and Manning have represented their teams well in both the good times and bad, experiences that would help them in a job interview, where it’s important to appear calm and confident.

Handling tough interview questions
Sure, it’s easy to speak to your day-to-day tasks and accomplishments during an interview, but the true test comes when asked tougher interview questions. Both the way you answer the question and the answer itself are important. Here are some potential questions Brady and Manning could get asked during a job interview, and how they could answer them successfully.

  • Loyalty/commitment to a company: Brady was drafted to the New England Patriots in 2000 and hasn’t left the team since, and although Manning was drafted to the San Diego Chargers, he was immediately traded to the New York Giants, his current team. So both Brady and Manning could speak to their commitment and loyalty, having worked for only one organization. That is rare in today’s workforce and could help them stand out in an interview.
  • Flexibility: Flexibility is a quality that many employers look for in a candidate, given today’s up-and-down economy. Employers want someone who can easily adapt to changing situations and is open to taking on a variety of tasks, even if outside his main responsibilities. Finfer notes that both Brady and Manning receive scrutiny, being two of the highest-profile players in the league, so they’ve learned to roll with the punches. In addition, Finfer notes that they’ve both handled frequent roster changes well — something that could easily shake up a team — and have been able to sustain success.
  • Overcoming adversity: Employers also like to hear examples of how a candidate handled a difficult situation and persevered. Manning could speak to how he comes from a family of famous football players, so he’s had to prove his own worth and come out from under his successful family’s shadow. Brady could talk about his knee injury – how he dealt with it without letting it get him down and eventually led his team to another national championship game.
  • Learning from mistakes: Finfer says some people believe Manning has made mistakes on the field, but instead of letting it faze him, he’s been able to learn from them and move on. Everyone makes mistakes on the job once in awhile, so job seekers shouldn’t be afraid to address those errors. What employers want to see is what lesson the candidate took away and how it made him a better employee.

Networking and references
Networking is a key part of the job search, because it helps you establish relationships with contacts that could lead to a job opportunity. Manning already has an established network, given his family connections, but it would still be helpful for him to go out on his own and meet new people so he can build relationships that are his alone. When seeking job references, you want to enlist people with whom you’ve worked closely, so they can speak to your specific skills and accomplishments. Finfer notes that Brady has a great relationship with his boss, head coach Bill Belichick, so that would be a good reference pick for him.

Both Brady and Manning have the qualities of a star quarterback, so either one could lead his team to victory this Sunday. And hey, if football doesn’t work out, at least we know they’ve got what it takes to conduct a successful job search.

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