Is Sourcing the New Recruiting?

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Aug 14, 2013

Over time, our roles evolve and change to fit with the present needs of the companies for which we work. The saying goes, “If you’re not green and growing, then you’re red and rotting.” Keeping up with the constant changes that come with work functions is important to ensure your marketability. It’s important to understand what these roles really look like today, and figure out where your best fit is going to be. Especially if you’re calling yourself a Sourcer these days.

My sourcing evolution

Sourcing is no stranger to adaptation – and neither am I. Over the last eleven years, my own roles have evolved to keep up with the times. I started as an Internet Researcher – mining resume databases as well as my ATS to find prospects and candidates whose keywords and buzzwords matched up with what my companies’ clients needed. I tossed those resumes over to my recruiting counterparts, untouched, for them to make initial cold-calls and, basically, recruit them. After all, that’s what recruiters are supposed to do, right?

Eventually, I became a “Sourcing Strategist” in a corporate environment. Taking another step toward candidate engagement, I initiated first contact with prospects to see if they’d be interested in talking with one of my recruiting counterparts. Once I received a “Yes” or even a “Gimme more details” response, I made an introduction to one of my recruiting partners so that they could, again, recruit that prospect.

Currently, my role has taken on even more prospect and candidate engagement. Not only do I find people, I also initiate contact, determine interest (or get them interested, as the case may be), conduct a first-round screening call, present formal write-up submissions, and only at that point do I hand-off to my recruiting counterparts.

Hold the phone (pun intended) – since when did I become a recruiter?


What do recruiters do these days?

Let’s do a Google define:recruiter search and take a look at a few simple definitions of “recruiter:”

A recruiter is someone engaging in recruitment, or the solicitation of individuals to fill jobs or positions within a corporation, non-for-profit organization, sports team, etc. –Wikipedia

Individual employed by a company to locate and qualify candidates for job openings in the company. –

A recruiter is the person within a staffing firm that is responsible for identifying and screening/evaluating qualified candidates for an open position within a client business. –

A recruiter’s job includes reviewing candidate’s job experiences, negotiating salaries, and placing candidates in agreeable employment positions. – this one seems legit)

Overall, these definitions resemble what I, and a lot of other sourcing professionals, do today under the guise of sourcing!

Let’s have a look then at define:sourcing and get the scoop on today’s definition of “sourcing:”

Find out where (something) can be obtained. (this is more procurement sourcing, but sounds more like what I was doing as an Internet Researcher)

Candidate sourcing activity typically ends once the name, job title, job function and contact information for the potential candidate is determined by the candidate sourcer. To further develop a list of names that were sourced, some companies have a second person then reach out to the names on the list to initiate a dialogue with them with the intention of pre-screening the candidate against the job requirements and gauging the interest level in hearing about new job opportunities. This activity is called “candidate profiling” or “candidate pre-screening”. The term candidate sourcing should not be confused with candidate research. (the detailed description of personnel sourcing, from Wikipedia)

Seems like sourcing has become the new recruiting. So what does that make today’s recruiter?

Honestly, here’s how I see it: from a corporate recruiting perspective at least, “recruiting” has evolved more into client management and/or internal (or active) candidate movement management, and is less about proactive recruiting. That part of the job has, for the most part, been transferred to the sourcing professionals. Don’t get me wrong – this is no small task in and of itself, but it doesn’t resemble a traditional definition of recruiting much anymore. The only place where I think recruiting has remained more focused on actual recruiting activities is in the agency setting. Those folks still know how to smile-and-dial and vigorously pursue non-active prospects.

I’m okay, you’re okay

This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of corporate recruiters who know how to recruit in the traditional sense – I’ve personally worked with TONS of them. Or that this functional evolution is a good or a bad thing. It just is – it’s how things are today based on the ever-changing needs of businesses.

If you’re looking for a sourcing role, it’s best to know what you’re going to be up against. These days, sourcing involves more than just basic candidate name generation. And the same goes for a recruiting role – if you’re looking at both corporate and agency recruiting opportunities, know that you’re comparing a couple of very different functions. Again, it’s neither right nor wrong – it’s simply the way times have changed the focus of each of these functions.

Is this the right role for you?

Here’s the bottom-line reality:  you can’t paint these functions with one brushstroke. But truly, sourcing today is the new recruiting. And whether you’re looking to drive your sourcing or  recruiting career in a particular direction, or you’re looking to build your team with smart, knowledgeable professionals, you need to be willing to change, adapt, grow, and potentially explore new avenues.

If you want to:

  • Hire a great sourcer: look at agency recruiters – they not only know how to source, but also how to get people interested in jobs.
  • Be a great sourcer: get yourself a solid research foundation, but be willing to learn the candidate interaction piece; and you may need to take yourself ‘back to school’ in order to do this – that is, find yourself a traditional full-cycle recruiting role.
  • Hire an awesome corporate recruiter: find someone who can make clients happy, follow process, and get people on-board – maybe someone with more of an HR, organizational development, or project management background.
  • Be an awesome corporate recruiter: be willing and able to put up with cranky clients and prima donna candidates, all while sporting a big smile and remaining professional – and resign yourself to the fact that you may not get to do as much sourcing as you’d like, but partner happily with your dedicated sourcing teammates and don’t be ashamed to ask for help!

Happy Hunting!

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