Breaking Down the Sourcing Function, Part 5: Common Myths About Sourcing

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Jan 13, 2012

Over the last several weeks, we’ve talked about what a sourcer does and doesn’t do. I’ve given you some of my thoughts on where to look for a sourcer for your team, some suggestions on how to interview potential sourcers, and what qualities in an individual might lead them to be a good sourcer. I’ve also given you some insight into the day in the life of a sourcer. So what’s left?

How about some fun things: some common misconceptions of what sourcing is. Yes, I believe every sourcer has beaten this topic to death at some point or another. But now, it’s my turn.

The goal of this is not to make light of these misconceptions, but rather to re-educate everyone on some of the things that are incorrectly associated with research and sourcing, and hopefully offer some suggestions on the correct way to view this very vital part of a recruiting operation.

Myth #1: Being a sourcer is an entry-level starting point for becoming a recruiter.

I shake my head every time I see a job posting for or a reference to “junior recruiter” that includes sourcing duties. This is as dumb as thinking that all tall kids want to grow up to be professional basketball players. I for one have never had a desire to recruit – not for one day! I enjoy the thrill of hunting down leads, and then passing them on to my awesome recruiting partners for them to work their magic. Other sourcers I know partake in some of the recruiting process and yes, they would aspire to be a recruiter one day. But pigeonholing sourcers into being fast tracked to the divine status of “recruiter” is incorrect – there are lots of career paths available to sourcers today, many of which don’t even involve recruiting! Recruiters, if you’re reading this, take a few moments to find out what excites your sourcing counterparts and encourage them to develop their skills and find their own career path – even if it doesn’t lead to recruiting.

Myth #2: Sourcers will find you candidates.

You may think, ‘How is this incorrect? That’s what sourcers do isn’t it? Source candidates?’ Well, not exactly….as I’ve mentioned before, a sourcer’s duty is to source leads. It’s the recruiter’s job to turn them into candidates and applicants. Yes, perhaps this is a simple matter of semantics – but the OFCCP and EEOC have established pretty specific definitions for people at different points in the hiring process, so it is, in fact, important to differentiate. Now, there are situations where a sourcer will also pre-screen the contacts/leads he sources before he passes them along to a recruiter. But for the most part, sourcers are responsible for generating leads, and recruiters are responsible for qualifying them and turn them into candidates. If you, as a sourcer, are also qualifying leads and selling them to become candidates before pushing them to your recruiters, I have to question the necessity of the recruiter in the process. Are they simply shuffling resumes from one side of their desk to the other? Hmm…

Myth #3: “Just find me resumes.”

Sure, sourcers will find resumes. Some of the time. But depending on what resources we are provided with, the leads that sourcers can and will provide might just be names, titles, and method of contact. Perhaps also a short bio or profile. Most (good) sourcers do not rely solely on resume boards (and yes, this includes LinkedIn!). Sourcers will from time to time come across an HTML resume or a personal website with a resume posted on it. But many of our leads will be simply names and contact information. It is important to educate your recruiting partners to be realistic in their expectations and get excited when you do come across a resume! If the reaction you get from your recruiter resembles, ‘All you’ve got for me is a list of 50 names and contact information?’, then it’s time to re-visit your SLA 🙂 Your recruiter should be pumped about all the networking they can do when they call those people!

Myth #4: “I can do my own research. I don’t need to waste money on hiring a sourcer.”

Of course you can – but is it the wisest use of your time? To recruiters who firmly believe in this, I’m curious how you successfully keep up with your own industry and not work 24/7 if this is your attitude toward research! I remember a conversation I had with a recruiter I used to partner with who had taken some time off; he mentioned that for two weeks prior to getting back on the phones he spent at least ten hours a day researching the latest news in his industry. Yes, you read that correctly – ten hours a day, for two weeks. And this recruiter still uses sourcers on a daily basis!

I presented this question to a LinkedIn group once and was shocked at the number of responses that said, “No, I do not use a sourcer; I do my own research.” In my opinion, this is a very cocky attitude and I can’t imagine that many of those recruiters are big billers or terribly successful in their careers. A recruiter earns his or her bread and butter by being on the phone talking to candidates, not searching news sites and conducting research. I know from personal observation that many recruiters who do their own sourcing do it on their own time, in the evenings and on the weekends, thus sacrificing family time and any resemblance of a personal life. So, tell me again that sourcing is easy and doesn’t take much time and that hiring a sourcer wouldn’t be beneficial. Simple, perhaps… but definitely not easy, and certainly worth hiring a sourcer for.

Myth #5: 23 ways a researcher will help you make more placements in less time

The recruiter who wrote this is a wonderful and successful man. However, I cannot agree with many of the items on this list, which is why it gets its own number here. I don’t think any explanation is needed — please just read this list of what duties a sourcer can be responsible for and see if it doesn’t steam you. My favorite in the list has to be “watering plants”…

Myth #6: Sourcer = data entry / PC troubleshooter / anything-I-don’t-feel-like-doing person

Most sourcers do have a love for technology, which predisposes us to being good at all things computer-related. However, know that the more things a sourcer does to deviate from their research duties, the less time they will be able to spend on what they were hired for in the first place – source! Recruiters, the last thing in the world you should be asking your sourcer to spend a great deal of time on is data entry. This is a job for which you can hire someone at $8/hour. While it’s definitely part of what the job entails, using a sourcer to do a large amount of data entry is, quite honestly, wasteful of payroll dollars. A good friend of mine and former fellow sourcer once told me that his job description was, “All duties that no one else in the office wants to do.” Turning a sourcer into a gopher is a gross misuse of good resources and will inevitably force us to look for employment elsewhere where our talents are  held in higher regard.

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Remember – sourcing is a vital part of a recruiting operation. There are four foundational parts of a successful recruiting practice:

  • Process (Operations)
  • Business Development
  • Recruitment
  • Research

Eliminating any one of these components will cause your recruiting operation to run inefficiently, and research is an especially vital part of this foundation. Research is the backbone of the recruiting body; it supports and facilitates the dispersement of necessary information to the rest of the parts.

Don’t let the myths of what sourcing is cloud its importance in the functioning of your recruiting practice. If you’re unsure how sourcing will play an important role in your organization, I urge you to connect with someone who does use sourcers and talk to them. Or you can call or email me; I’ll be more than happy to share my thoughts with you!

I hope this series of articles has helped to break down the sourcing function into small, digestible bites for you. My intent was to help both the sourcing and recruiting communities better understand what sourcing is and also learn about the thought process that goes behind it. Remember: sourcers are real people too, and real important in the recruiting process! Even though we’re not actively generating the dollars, you really can’t put a price tag on the value that we bring to a recruiting operation.

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