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Why it’s Risky to Confuse "Sourcing” with "Recruiting”

Candidate sourcing has become a specialised field in its own right. Having your Recruiters performing this role can be a costly mistake, both in terms of time and the quality of talent recruited.

If your recruiters are taking on the role of sourcing, you might want to rethink your recruiting strategy. Why? Sourcing has steadily turned into a specialised field. Understanding the difference between sourcing and recruiting is key to optimising both functions, and failure to do so could mean you are destined not to access the best talent in the marketplace and to add to the overall recruiting costs and time to hire.

For some organisations, the line between sourcing and recruiting is still a blurry one. As such, companies are not willing to or don’t understand whether to invest in a dedicated sourcer. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

"Sourcing is the proactive search for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions; it is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting or pre-screening candidates."

Post it and they will come?

In the past, recruiters did the initial sourcing work. The traditional methods of recruiting, dating back to paper applications and phone call follow-ups, relied on the notion that if you post a job, the candidates will come. However, since the widespread adoption of digital job boards, the volume of resumes and applications has increased significantly, and with it, the numerous efforts devoted to mining through copious amounts data.

Now, with the extraordinary rise of web 2.0 and social media, a vast number of talent pipelines have been created. Understanding and taking advantage of this progression and using all of these tools efficiently is key to a strong sourcing strategy. Although social media provides a great platform to reach thousands of people, using it effectively is more to do with narrowing your reach than broadening it; targeting specific audiences to find the people with the skills you need.

Sourcing versus Recruiting

How do you know if your organisation needs a dedicated sourcer? If you use recruiters to drive this function, you should expect delays in your overall recruiting process. True recruiting functions, including candidate screening, interviews and so forth, can only start after the candidate pool is filled with qualified, interested and available candidates.

Sourcing is, to some extent, the dirty word of recruitment. Doing the digging in those various talent pipelines and looking in every nook and cranny to find the right person. As such, sourcing is now considered an integral part of the recruiting process, since so much more time and work is needed to mine a larger passive candidate pool. A good sourcer will not only spend time on the following tasks, but will know which yield the highest outputs, which should include:



At the end of the day, passive candidates expect to be sought out, and many will wait for the right opportunity because they know someone will eventually find them. With the increased use of social media recruiting and the ability to post jobs in real time, candidates are finding themselves in the driver’s seat.


Pete Dallimore

Pete Dallimore | Sourcing and Marketing Manager

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