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Sep 27, 2018

Building a sourcing team is an exciting challenge, and a unique opportunity to make a lasting impact on the business you support. But like anything worth doing, putting the right group of people together is not an easy task.

The end goal of every recruiting or sourcing organization is to hire the best of the best, but the approach you take in assembling a team of TA professionals will shape how you reach that end goal. Before you can even begin sourcing, let alone interviewing and hiring, defining a thoughtful hiring strategy will help ensure that you are fielding the best team for your business.

Sports metaphors are cringe-worthy in 2018, but the parallels are undeniable, and if they didn’t work, we wouldn’t use them, right? So with no shame, we used a common baseball term to describe ballplayers – The Five-Tool Player – and we adapted it to our world of sourcing. Those in the game of baseball have long used five key attributes to define what makes a great player, and with those five characteristics in mind, we can build a strategy to hire an all-star team of sourcers.

As you read through these core skills, think realistically about whether you can find, hire, and retain an entire team of all five-tool players (it’s doubtful). Remember that every team is always made up of diverse characteristics skill sets. You do not need all fast runners or power hitters. If you hire all of one skill, you may sacrifice the other skills entirely and expose yourself to vulnerabilities. We also know that the most successful, innovative, and effective teams include people of diversity. This article is about adding a broad range of skill diversity to that list. It is important to consider your own skill bias when interviewing: Do you have a preference for agency candidates since that was your background? If you have great arm strength, do you tend to hire people who emulate you?

Which skills are most necessary? That’s up to you and what traits you need on your current team. Rank these skills yourself before seeking the ideal candidate. This will help define the right person to help push your team to the next level.


  • Undoubtably a sense of urgency is important to sourcing excellence. Taking immediate action, thinking quickly and coming up with solutions fast. This kind of person is action-oriented, gets going – and doesn’t let up.
  • Productive, priority-setting, and understands the criticality of tasking. This person spends their time on the biggest need for the business, can identify and remove roadblocks, and spends their time on efforts that result in the highest returns.
  • Drives for results or knows how to steal a base or two (wink, wink. Bends the rules as needed without breaking them). Requires a deep understanding of the rules of the game and how to use this to their advantage. Looks for process improvements, ways to automate, or has a focus on efficiency. Knows what is important to measure and improve on.

Arm Strength

  • Fielders often get a running start before throwing and therefore the velocity of the ball is much higher. This person is a master of the intake meeting and knows exactly what questions to ask to define the ideal candidate profile.
  • They spend time in the weight room. To get good arm strength you have to do very targeted and specific exercises – and this person knows its not just your arms need strength building. They run laps by keeping up with industry trends, they build their core through continual research, and they turn weaknesses into strengths by asking questions and continually learning.
  • They take pride in knowing what the real job is and tell candidates the role as accurately as possible. They don’t try to fit squares into circles just to get a win. They are in it for the long game; they build trust in the market and exactly define the role and pitch the company.
  • Boolean expertise is one of the keys to having an accurate throw and extended reach. They go beyond LinkedIn filters and can effortlessly explain an x-ray search they have done. They can anticipate market constraints and are able to create competitive and innovative plans for future issues.

Fielding Ability

  • Resiliency and solution-oriented. The job is tough and we get a lot of rejection. This person solves difficult problems with ease, displays a good attitude, and is not rigid in approach.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Candidate constantly refines their craft, tries new tools, approaches, resources etc. Reads blogs, attends conferences, and joins groups.
  • Baseball is a team sport and so is sourcing! The right candidate is supportive, collaborative, and leads by example. They are part of trainings, teach backs, paired sourcing efforts, etc.
  • Relatable and cool under pressure. Ability to react effectively to anything thrown their way. Tough requisition, hiring manager, recruiting partner, candidate, or peer? No problem. Displays high emotional intelligence and handles stress well.

Hitting for Average

  • Making the right type of contact – opposite field, bunt, homerun – and not striking out when the game is on the line. Reliable and consistently delivers on key performance metrics.
  • Sourcing is a numbers game. This person knows how to balance and deliver the volume of candidates to keep momentum high. Whether they have two or twenty years of experience, they understand how much input they need to get to a desired outcome.
  • Uses the whole field. A true pipeline builder, who mines the ATS, asks for referrals, does regular reach outs, cold calls, and leverages personal networks. Someone who is not afraid to try the range of sourcing levers and tools to get things done.

Hitting for Power

  • The Cleanup Hitter. Delivers game changing hires in a pinch. This is the person brought in at the ninth inning of a req’s lifecycle and has five candidates at onsite within a week. These people talk about level of difficulty of role, can name key hires, or call themselves firefighters.
  • The Powerhouse. A sourcer who handles twice to three times the requisition load of other sourcers. Basically, they hit balls out of the park all day.
  • Three-baggers. Knows the park and the pitcher so well that they can stretch singles into triples. Give this person the time to find the purple squirrel and they will.
  • Power hitters don’t need names or numbers on their jerseys; everyone knows who they are. Your network is confident this person will perform well for you. Their previous employer will scratch and claw to keep them on their team. Their history, trajectory, and the notoriety is clear.

Now that you can identify these five tools, it’s time to go out and put them into action and build your team. A high-performing team has a diverse set of skills and backgrounds, and that is no different in sourcing. Hiring people who excel in different areas will ensure that your team is not only prepared for every challenge but also fostering innovation in your organization. The resources listed here are meant to be a fun way to relate to building a sourcing team or hiring a sourcer. If you have a suggestion to build out any of these five tools or alter them to better match, please leave a comment. We are always adapting and improving and would be happy to republish with additions!

Don’t miss Rebecca Fouts at SourceCon in Atlanta!

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