Devaluation of the Sourcing Role

Regular Contributor post from Kristen Fife, originally posted on ERE


Earlier this week on WArecruit, our local HR and Recruiting discussion list, someone posted a job looking for a “top notch sourcer” (technical) for a very part-time, telecommute opportunity for a contact. The pay rate was listed as between $13-$15/hour.

Now, in some parts of the country that might be considered a fair wage, but in Seattle this is less than we pay our Recruiting Assistants and even Corporate Receptionists. I found this pay range to be insulting from a number of angles.

I wrote back and told the individual that posted the job that I hope he had told his contact that a “top notch [technical] sourcer”, such as me, makes more than twice that at the very bottom range of our compensation.

I had several people contact me offline thanking me for speaking up, and praising me for knowing the comp rate for our profession and defending it.

So why am I insulted? If I am being generous I will assume that the person looking for the “top notch” technical sourcer has no idea what a sourcing recruiter truly *does*, and is just looking for someone to log into the job boards and funnel her resumes. However, even *that* very basic skill set commands at least 25% more than was offered in this area.

If she actually understands the role of a *true* senior sourcing professional, (including building relationships with industry professionals; doing in-depth competitive intelligence; using much more complex tools than a simple Boolean search string on Monster; cold calling companies to gather names or building out a company directory during off-hours by culling their voicemail system; researching conference speaker and event attendee lists and then combining those results to find top passive talent) I find her actions despicable. She is devaluing the skill set most senior sourcing recruiters have spent years building.

I personally find it a bitter pill to swallow that Senior Sourcers already make less money than “full desk” or full lifecycle recruiters in most organizations. The work that we do to build pipelines for our account management colleagues should be valued *at least* as much. I spend time searching out and evaluating top talent to create candidate pools and pipes for my team to have available. I create long-term relationships with industry professionals in order to generate referrals and trust. The time and effort that goes into sourcing is so much more intensive than just slotting a candidate into a role when it becomes available.

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Truly *good* recruiters in all industries keep their address books filled with good candidates and industry contacts, and their LinkedIn networks are filled with people that they have talked to about a role that may be something of interest in two to three years.

Toward the end of the day, I received an email from the original poster of the $13-$15/hour sourcing posting, informing me that his contact has received several “good” responses from individuals who value the chance to telecommute a few hours on their own schedule to be a fair trade-off. My final response was that I hoped his colleague gets much more than her money’s worth, because someone that truly is a senior, *good* sourcer would have to be desperate to take such a low wage. Anyone on UI in the Seattle market is making much more than that. Convenience should never be a trade-off for quality.

As one responder to my post noted, any organization that is trying to take advantage of desperate times is just positioning themselves for failure; as soon as the market picks up, and it is starting to, those people will start leaving in search of companies that value their skills and contributions. How many discussions have you been party to about lower wages and finding/retaining top talent? How can we even begin to chastise our HR departments on lower compensation ladders when we don’t even fairly value our *own*? This is the same sort of behavior that gives organizations a bad name in general in the recruiting industry. If you want “top notch” talent of any sort, you need to be prepared to offer fair wages.

As they say, you get what you pay for.

Kristen Fife is a senior technical recruiter in the greater Seattle area. She has been in recruiting since 2004, starting as contract Researcher for the Microsoft Strategic Recruiting Group before moving into full lifecycle agency recruiting for Volt Technical Services. Her move into corporate recruiting started with both sourcing and full lifecycle contract roles at Microsoft (including MSFT Research, Legal, and various product groups). In addition to Microsoft, Kristen worked for 3 years for RealNetworks/GameHouse as the Senior Technical Recruiter and Sourcing Specialist; at the University of Washington/Harborview Medical Centers as a Sourcer, as well as smaller companies such as Varolii (now part of Nuance Communications), Covestic, and bSquare. Currently she is an RPO Senior Technical Recruiter, she sits on the Leadership Team for Sourcing7, and is a regular presenter, trainer, panelist, and speaker in the Seattle area for recruiting forums and job seekers. She has been a regular contributor to the Seattle Times, including an employment topic column, regular blog, and the NWJobs Hire Wire newsletter for the local recruiting industry. Her blog for job seekers receives several thousand hits a week. She has been quoted in several publications including ABCNews, AOL, the Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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