Data-Driven Recruiting

10 lessons talent leaders can learn from Ted Lasso

Gina Erle

Gina Erle

Marketing Events Manager

Posted on

March 6, 2023

Ted Lasso once said, “Takin’ on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.” Whether you’ve seen the show or not, this quote likely hits home to most people in Talent Acquisition. From a global pandemic, to “The Great Resignation,” to hiring freezes and slowdowns and layoffs, the recruiting landscape has been fraught with highs and lows. The constant change has been exhausting; but here at Gem, we’re choosing to believe!  

While we would never ignore the circumstances of our industry, we also believe that the best way to get through challenging changes is to stay positive, get creative, and take a page (or 10) out of Ted Lasso’s playbook. Inspired by the season 3 premiere and Ted's can-do attitude, we’ve compiled 10 lessons talent leaders can learn from the show Ted Lasso. (We promise, no major spoilers!)

Be open to change 

The premise of Ted Lasso is simple: a college football coach from Kansas is hired to coach a fictional English Premier League football (aka soccer) team in London. Ted is a fish out of water; he has no experience and can’t even describe what offsides is. Unsurprisingly, Ted’s coaching methods are initially met with resistance… until the team starts to turn things around. (To anyone who thinks this is a spoiler, it can’t be! There are three seasons! If he had failed, the show would not still be on.) 

Why does this work? The team and Ted are all willing to adapt to change. Whether it's making shifts to drive TA like a data-driven business, shifting how your team works to drive more daily impact or simply embracing new ways of thinking, your willingness to embrace change will only make you more agile in times of adversity. 

Ideas can come from anyone 

While some football coaches might not listen to Nate—the team’s Kit man (the person who takes care of the equipment)—for game strategy, Ted is unafraid to accept his advice. Talent leaders would do well to listen to those around them. Aligning yourself with hiring managers and cross-functional partners can ensure that everyone is making the same hiring play. Additionally, their feedback can provide valuable insights to refine your strategy. 

Do what’s right 

One of the major themes of Ted Lasso is choosing to do what’s right—even if doing the right thing is hard to do. Talent leaders should be inspired to follow suit, especially when it comes to hiring. In our 2023 recruiting trends report, we found that 72% of respondents say DEIB should be a top hiring focus this year. Sadly, this is a decrease from our report the year prior, suggesting that diversity has been deprioritized for some organizations over the last 12 months.

Talent leaders: don't use a market downturn as an excuse to deprioritize something as important as diversity. This is just one example of the kind of trade-offs organizations will sometimes make, but compromising your values because times are tough won't serve anyone in the long run.

Hit your targets. Every time. 

There’s a scene in the first season of the show where the main villain, Rupert, challenges Ted to a darts contest. Rupert underestimates Ted, resulting in Ted nailing his target and winning a juicy bet.

Talent leaders, you need to have an ace up your sleeve just like Ted does—or in your case, you need to have a data-driven recruiting strategy. Having strong data and visibility into your recruiting process will allow you to increase productivity, deliver cost savings, and plan for the unpredictable.

Don’t know where to begin? Our own analytics module, Talent Compass, surfaces data across Gem and your ATS to help recruiting teams uncover operational insights, benchmark performance, scenario plan, and improve hiring outcomes. 

Football—wait, we mean Talent Acquisition—is life!

How could we write a Ted Lasso blog without including Danny Rojas’ joyful cry of: “football is life!” We know that the talent industry is a grind. And the longer you’ve been doing something, the harder it can be to find joy. But we encourage leaders to reflect on why they got into talent acquisition in the first place! 

Invest in your candidate relationships 

One of the biggest takeaways of the series is the importance of relationships. When Ted first arrives in London, his boss and the owner of the team, Rebecca, is uninterested in their relationship, even professionally. But Ted uses his baking skills to find a way to regularly check in with her—a strategy he dubs as “Biscuits with the Boss.” Through this literally sweet ritual, Ted is able to thaw his ice-queen boss and create a true friendship. Thoughtfulness, transparency, and kindness between the characters are what make it such a heartwarming show to watch. The same sort of investments should be made for your candidates. 

A study by IBM found that candidates were 38% more likely to accept a job offer if the candidate experience was positive. We know recruiters have a lot to remember, and it’s so easy to let a follow-up fall through the cracks. But ghosting—even if accidental—negatively impacts the candidate experience. According to Gartner, a candidate relationship management system (CRM) is must-have commodity to support employer branding, sourcing efficiency and effectiveness, recruitment marketing, and the overall candidate experience.

“The collective purpose of [candidate attraction and engagement] capabilities is to continuously source, and connect with, both passive and active candidates as part of strategically relevant talent pools. This is so that when job requisitions are posted downstream, there’s a ready pool of talent from which to curate, and you’re not effectively starting from scratch. As competition for talent has become more intense, investment in these categories (particularly CRM) has shifted from a wish list capability for the TA function to a must-have commodity in many cases.”

Empowerment breeds confidence 

Coach Lasso is all about building confidence in his team. From dance parties, to birthday celebrations, to personalized gifts, Ted makes sure that his players are empowered, which in turn gives them confidence. 

If you feel the weight of the current market on your shoulders, imagine how your team is feeling. Regular check-ins, empathy, and going the extra mile for the people on your talent team will go a long way. Additionally, you need to give them the right tools for success. More on that in our next point. 

Team work makes the dream work

Any good coach knows that even the most talented players can’t function without the right tools: quality boots (aka cleats), shin guards, a clean pitch, something that keeps their glorious locks of hair out of their eyes. (We’re looking at you, Jaime Tartt.)When it comes to a recruitment CRM, you need a solution that works with the tools recruiters use every day. Seamless integrations with platforms such as applicant tracking systems, sourcing sites, and communication tools is essential for unifying your recruiting tech stack. 

Bring on the branding 

No one knows branding quite like Keeley Jones, the model-turned-PR-strategist for AFC Richmond. She’s a powerhouse when it comes to branding herself, as well as the players. She takes their experiences and preferences and finds them sponsorships that align with their personal brands. 

Employer branding is just as important for companies hoping to reach top talent. Today’s candidates are keen to join companies that stand out. In fact, companies who prioritize employer branding see a 50% increase in qualified candidates, 2x faster time-to-hire, a 43% decrease in cost-per-hire, and a 28% decrease in employee turnover. 


A resounding takeaway from the show is simply to believe. As Ted would say: “I believe in belief.” The world around us is changing; and as a talent leader, you need to believe in your team, your company, and the tools you use to find the best talent for your organization. 

It’s probably cheesy to say, but here at Gem, we believe in you. And we know that if you have optimism, positivity, and a desire to hire, there’s no challenge you can’t handle.


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