2 Top Lessons Sourcers Can Learn From The World Of Mixed Martial Arts

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid fan of the martial arts.

My parents first enrolled me into Karate at the age of five. I loved it and stuck with it several years until I finally achieved my Black Belt. During much of my youth, I toured the U.S. competing in local, state, and national Karate tournaments. I won some, lost some, and enjoyed every bit of the experience. Training for competitions was never a chore – I craved it. Sport Karate taught me many lessons, especially about discipline and dedication.

Although I stopped competing in tournaments back in my teen years, I am still a huge fan of the sport. Today, the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) world has evolved into a highly competitive sport and is widely popularized by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The level of hard work and competitiveness in the MMA environment provides excellent lessons for sourcing professionals.

1. Identify your weaknesses.

Top-level MMA fighters are constantly striving to improve their game. For example, wrestlers who enter the world of MMA know they need to work on their stand-up (or striking skills), while Boxers (Strikers) often need to work on improving their ground fighting game, etc. During competitions, fighters regularly attack their opponent’s known areas of weakness.

Recruiting is tough business and the competition for attracting the best talent has not gotten easier. Expectations to deliver are just as high now as they were 15 years ago. As a sourcer, it’s important to have an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself, what do you do well versus not so well? If you are an “expert” at Internet sourcing but shy away from cold-calling, then it’s time to work on improving your cold-calling skills. If you regularly source using LinkedIn but have no idea how to leverage Twitter, then it’s time to learn. Don’t allow your weakness to be the one area that enables competitors to edge the win over you. Identifying your weakness does not mean you need to give up what you do best. By identifying the areas that need the most improvement, you will have a better sense of where to invest your training time in order to close the gap.

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2. Diversify your skills.

There are many attributes that differentiate a good fighter from a champion fighter. One of the key differences is the ability to quickly learn and adapt to new fighting styles. Champion fighters don’t rely on one particular style or discipline to win a competition but draw from a diverse set of skills gained through intensive hours of training. It is very common for top-level MMA competitors to cross-train in multiple disciplines (e.g., Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, kick-boxing, wrestling, striking, etc.).

Recruiting is no different. To remain competitive, we need to diversify what’s in our sourcing toolbox and be able to draw from that when the time is needed. Expand your sourcing knowledge by connecting with industry professionals to help you – find someone who truly understands the world of search, social media, mobile, or whatever it is you need. This is not simply about grabbing all the shiny new tools but being open to diversifying your sourcing style to fit your needs. You don’t need to be an expert in everything but don’t be afraid to learn. Get out of your comfort zone. Today, social media, mobile, and the cloud are dominating most discussions on the web. It is altering our way of life and how we conduct business. Learn why and how this impacts you. Continuously improving your knowledge and applying what you learn is the only way to maintain that competitive edge.

Top-level mixed martial artists have an unstoppable mentality. If we draw inspiration from their mental toughness, hard work, and determination, there’s nothing we cannot achieve. Do you agree the world of MMA provides valuable lessons for recruiting professionals? What do you think?

Michael Marlatt is an Executive Recruiting Partner at Cognizant Technology Solutions. He has close to 20 years of industry experience and is deeply passionate about innovation in recruiting strategies and technologies. Michael has a diverse background, which includes sourcing, training, and entrepreneurship. He has consulted for top-tier companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Deloitte, Capgemini, as well as for start-up organizations. He previously founded and ran MREC (The Mobile Recruiting Conference). Michael's passion for emerging technologies led him to build CompareMatch, a discovery platform for searching and comparing software solutions for HR and talent acquisition.

Follow @MichaelMarlatt or email him.

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