The Moneyball Approach to Sourcing Talent


In 2002, the Oakland Athletics, the team with the third lowest payroll in Major League Baseball, won as many games as the New York Yankees – the team with the highest payroll. The A’s won more games than they lost in every season from 1999 through 2006. What separated them from the other 29 teams in the MLB was their general manager, Billy Beane, and his Harvard-educated statistician, Paul DePodesta. Beane and DePodesta were the pioneers of “Moneyball,” an advanced statistical model that found high-performing players that were overlooked and undervalued in the market.

Moneyball swept the sports industry and played a role in 15 of 30 teams getting into at least one post-season series between 2011 and 2013. It heralded the era of analytics, an era in which those leveraging data gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Just as in baseball in the early 2000s, businesses today are aggressively vying for talent, but are overlooking and undervaluing five key talent pools. Like the A’s, businesses can gain a serious competitive advantage by sourcing candidates from overlooked and undervalued populations. Here are five groups to consider when searching for your next hire.

Women Over 50

The United States ended 2015 at 5% unemployment, a rate most economists would consider to be a state of “full employment.” Meanwhile, millions of Americans have yet to regain a foothold in the workplace. Women over the age of 50 have found the post-recession economy particularly difficult to navigate. The long-term unemployment rate increased disproportionately for older women in the wake of the Great Recession, making the job search statistically more difficult for them since 2008. A 2015 study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis revealed that in the two years preceding the Great Recession, less than a quarter of women over the age of 50 were out of work for six months or longer. In the two years following the Great Recession, a full 50% of women in this age group were out of work for at least six months.

Layoffs caused men and women in this age group to lean on family, retirement savings, and the equity in their homes. Once unemployed, over-50 workers are, on average, out of work longer than their younger counterparts. This is especially the case for women over the age of 50, who are more likely than their male counterparts to have left the labor force entirely– and not by choice. Seeing as the average age non-retired Americans expect to retire is 66, women over 50 still have many years left to contribute in the workforce. 


There is a highly educated, highly experienced talent pool that is leaving the workforce in dramatic numbers: moms. Mothers spend years advancing their careers and then unexpectedly (at least to their employers) opt out, creating a significant gap in the talent pool. A 2013 study of over 2,000 women with children under the age of 18 revealed that 76% held a college degree, 58% had between 6 and 15 years of experience, and more than half would have continued working if their employer had offered them a more flexible work arrangement. Forty-three percent of highly qualified women with children leave their careers or put them on hold for a period of time. Many never return. While employment rates for women are rising in other countries, they’ve fallen in the U.S. In 1999, the percentage of women ages 25-54 in the American workforce peaked at 74%. In 2013, it was 69%.

For mothers in low- and middle-income families, it often makes financial sense to leave work if the cost of childcare exceeds the income they would have otherwise earned. A 2014 poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with the New York Times, revealed that nearly three-quarters of women who identified as “homemakers” and have not looked for a job in the last year would consider reentering the workforce if they were offered flexible hours or the opportunity to work from home. Highly educated, highly experienced moms can contribute significant value in the workplace, but employers have to be willing to structure the work so that they can contribute in the first place.

Americans with Disabilities

Americans with disabilities are struggling to find employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age Americans with disabilities stood at 17.2% as of December 2015. Americans with disabilities represent 11.7% of our working-age population, yet only 3.6% of the workforce. This represents a tremendous value proposition to businesses facing talent shortages nationwide.

Companies like PepsiCo and American Express understand that hiring people with disabilities isn’t about being charitable or doing the right thing, it simply makes good business sense. Hiring this demographic not only drives a more inclusive culture, the workplace itself stands to benefit from the diverse education, experience, and perspective people with disabilities bring to the table.

Workers Lacking Broadband Access

The lack of broadband access can be a tremendous impediment to job seekers. Despite various state and federal initiatives promoting broadband adoption, one in three adults still do not subscribe to high-speed internet services. According to the Pew Research Center, of those without high-speed internet access, 37% indicate that it would be difficult for them to draft a résumé, 30% indicate that it would be difficult to submit an online job application, and 27% indicate that it would be difficult to locate jobs available in their area.

The disparity in broadband access, generally attributed to the cost of high-speed internet services, fuels a perpetuating cycle for those Americans struggling to secure employment. It goes without saying that employers would be foolish to ignore one-third of the working-age population. 

The Fully Employed

That’s right! The fully employed are an untapped talent market. In 2015, more than a third of full-time workers took on additional work to supplement their income. What’s more, 89% of this population intends to keep their second job in 2016. In an economy where jobs are abundant, but wages are stagnant, the idea of taking on a part-time job has become very attractive. Should employers rule out the need for a full-time employee, a fully employed worker might just be their next part-time hire.

Leverage Data to End Talent Shortages

With businesses nationwide facing talent shortages, business leaders need to summon the courage to staff their workforces by leveraging data and modernizing business practices. In today’s economy, sourcing candidates in overlooked and undervalued talent pools might just give you the upper hand.

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