In order to maximize your value and increase your chances of employment, it is important to understand how international teams select their players. Teams build their rosters in three stages:
FIRST STAGE: Re-sign the current key players, especially the domestic ones. This generally happens from April to June.
SECOND STAGE: Sign new players, but only if the team already knows them very well, or if they think they have a steal and can get a top-level player for a bargain price. Generally speaking, this also happens from April to June.
THIRD STAGE: Put together the missing pieces. Between June and September teams are usually wide open to new players, but they are also extremely selective. At this stage, teams feel no time pressure and the market is flooded with available players. This is the most difficult time for players to get job offers and their market value is at its lowest. Summer time is clearly a buyers’ market. Here is how teams evaluate their long lists of candidates:
- Quickly scan the resumes of the players submitted to them and narrow the number of candidates down to a dozen or so.
- Take a closer look at the resumes, do a brief background check, and narrow the number of candidates down to a handful.
- To further evaluate this handful of top candidates game footage is watched and the candidates are ranked.
- The team now decides whether or to make an offer to the top-ranked candidate. If he rejects the offer, then the team moves on to candidate number 2 or 3, etc., until someone accepts the offer. If the team is not completely satisfied with the level of the top-ranked candidates, or if their price is too high, then the team will keep searching for other candidates. This does not mean that they start the whole process over again, but rather that their top-ranked candidates serve as a reference point. Any new candidates have to be comparable to the ones who are currently top-ranked.
Note that agents use a similar selection and ranking procedure.
Given the reality of this selection process, players are advised not to overestimate the value of their highlight reels and other video footage. Only when candidates are significantly narrowed down does such video come into play. Initially, the written resume is more important.