Sourcers Are The New Recruiters?

Come listen to my story about a man named Tim.

Poor Recruiting Pro, barely kept his family fed. 

And then one day he the internet came along, 

and up on his screen came a bunch of profiles. 

Candidates those are. Money, in people form. 

For those of you that are under 40, you might want to go Google Beverly Hillbillies theme song

What the hell is going on in this world?

No, really!?

I started my career out as a ‘Researcher’. Little did I know, that was really just sourcing (or at least what we call sourcing today). My job was to find candidates for jobs we had open. I find a candidate. Do a basic screen. Pass them onto a recruiter who sold them to the client/hiring manager.

I then got my own clients/hiring managers and did the full boat. Find the jobs. Find the candidates. Make the offers. Etc.

When I went to corporate Talent Acquisition almost every shop was doing it the same way. Recruiters were assigned departments, business units, hiring managers, etc. They would work with those individuals when they had openings. Post jobs. Screen incoming candidates. Attend campus job fairs. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of outbound calling – those were the rock stars. And complain how crappy their ATS was, and how awful the hiring managers were.

That was corporate Talent Acquisition, as I know it, from 7 years ago.

During this time, Sourcing became a thing. Everyone needed to now, break up “Talent Acquisition” into Sourcing and Recruiting.  Sourcers found candidates. The premise being we need ‘outbound’ activity happening. Actual candidate hunting. Recruiters then did screening, setting up interviews, offers, etc.

Somewhere over the past five years. Sourcers have become what Recruiters used to be.  They find candidates. They screen candidates. They set up interviews. I know some are even closing the deal with offers.

So, my question is, today, what the hell do Corporate Recruiters do in those shops that have Sourcers?

It seems like corporate recruiters are now advanced admin professionals. They really don’t have any skills to speak of.  I’m honestly asking TA Leaders! If you have Sourcing doing all of the skill-based activities of recruiting, what are you paying recruiters for? It would seem like you could get some really good Admin Pros do all of the work you have Recruiters doing.

Am I off base on this?

This came up because I met with a TA Leader who was paying their corporate Recruiters $85-100K in salary. She was also paying Sourcers a bit less, $65-80K in salary. When I dug into what they were actually doing, it seemed to me the most valuable of the two was easily the Sourcing Pros! The Recruiters did almost nothing of value for what they were being paid.

The hiring managers in this environment even went to the Sourcing Pros to get information on candidates! Basically, the Recruiters set up interviews, made offers, and onboarding.  To be fair, they were also in charge of ’employment branding’ for which they had an outside firm doing all of that work. Sourcing Pros had candidate experience, recruitment marketing, ATS/CRM, job postings, etc.

It seems like this is coming full circle.  We split the function and now the Sourcers are just becoming what Recruiters used to be. A one-stop shop for filling positions.

What I’m quickly seeing is that the value of these two positions is quickly becoming uneven.  When “Sourcing” as a concept was introduced, it was to have better efficiency in recruiting. Take a difficult function. Split into two parts, and let folks specialize. Through this specialization and synergy, you’ll get more work then everyone running their own desk.  Great theoretical concept!

What I’m finding in most organizations is that the theory isn’t meeting the actual result.

Are you seeing or feeling the same thing? Hit me in the comments, I’m truly interested.

6 thoughts on “Sourcers Are The New Recruiters?

  1. I believe part of the reason for this is the influx of popularity in the Recruiting industry, and it has become a really great “stepping stone” for beginners to learn the business slowly, and provide a road map for growth into a more complicated “recruiting” role.

  2. Tim,

    This is an interesting discussion. As someone who has had to run full cycle for most of my career (14/16 years of having to be my own sourcer), I have always felt that we can combine the roles.

    Now, that is not a widely popular sentiment, and I get why – because sourcers do bring a certain key skill set to the game, and can dive deeper (and perhaps faster) than a recruiter carrying 10-20 reqs. But I’ve always felt that to be a competent recruiter, I had to know how to do some relatively deep sourcing – maybe not at the level of a Levy, or Dean D, but I still needed to know how to find what I wanted.

    The issue probably stems from most orgs not really investing in deep recruiting teams unless they are in a large scale org (quantified by 5k or more people. IMO).

    I think that (good) recruiters bring strong client management and closing skills that can compliment the up front work of a sourcer. I’ve enjoyed when I have had a sourcer to work with, but kind of feel more in control if I’m doing the end to end.

    Really good question. Happy Friday.

  3. So my boss had this grand idea a year ago to bring on someone to source for he and I -the only recruiters here- and I was like what? I can’t figure this out, you may need someone to source for you, but that’s part of MY recruiting process. We didn’t hire someone to source, but I’m still baffled that he thought we should do that. Everything he wanted done are things that I already do for myself in support of the recruiting role. I have a really hard time separating the two roles and I wonder if maybe my brain just doesn’t work like everyone else’s.

  4. Leading contributor to the problem may be that the recruiters aren’t really onboard with having a sourcer supporting them. Even when the sourcer is being proactive and reaching out to find people and pass them along the process.. the recruiter goes out and finds their own candidates, ignoring the sourcer’s candidates. Which then means that the sourcer goes around the recruiter to the hiring team to get their candidate visibility. Hiring Manager sees the great customer service and activity and starts going directly to the sourcer. Recruiter gets upset and then continuously ignores sourcer’s candidates in the future as “payback”. For the Sourcer-Recruiter relationship to work, it needs to be clearly defined, and supported by the TA leadership.
    Oh, and sourcers shouldn’t be held to metrics of “did your candidate get hired”. WHen a sourcer’s performance is tied to the number of hires – you better believe they are going to work hard to get their candidate in front of the team and close that deal.
    WHen you measure the sourcer’s performance by “how many made it to interview” there isn’t that need to have the sourcer closing deals.
    Recruiting is so overburdened, that the only way to keep the machine moving is more hands on deck closing deals and booking candidates to interview.

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