My Take On ‘The Fallacy of Sourcing’

Last week  wrote a post published on our sister site,, entitled “The Fallacy of Sourcing.” I tried not to respond because the post wasn’t necessarily wrong. It was just written from a totally different perspective. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to weigh in. Here’s the comment I left on the post. 

People think they’re going to offend the sourcing community by saying it’s gotten easier to find people and build lists. However, most “in the know” sourcers and recruiters wholeheartedly agree with this statement. I made this assertion during the “State of Sourcing” presentation at SourceCon in 2013 and again in the same presentation in 2014. I’m glad others are starting to realize this fact. The new challenge is to cut through the large amounts of data and identify the right people quickly then engage them. My definition of sourcing includes identification and first level of engagement (which the author of this post refers to as recruiting). A candidate isn’t truly “sourced” until that person is known to be qualified, interested, and available for the requisition. Does a procurement department consider a raw material sourced because they have a list of companies that sell it? Or are they expected to handle the negotiations and get the raw materials to the right place so the company can use them?

This piece isn’t wrong. It’s written from the perspective of someone who ascribes to a different definition of sourcing than I do. For more on my definition of sourcing see this post:…. Be sure to click on the links to Glen Cathey’s post about the definition of sourcing.

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This post got a lot of clicks and sparked some conversation but I feel like it was written with the assumption that the author’s definition of sourcing was shared by everyone.

In conclusion, I would say that before making bold statements about a function of the business many of us spend our entire days involved in, one should define what they consider that function to include. What do you think?

Jeremy Roberts, SPHR, is VP, Customer Experience at HiringSolved. He is the previous Editor of SourceCon. Prior to joining the ERE Media team, he spent over a decade working as a recruiter, sourcer, and sourcing manager. This time was spent in diverse environments, including third party agency settings (retained and contingent), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) providers, and internal corporate HR departments. His previous employers include the MHA Group, Ajilon Finance, Korn Ferry Futurestep, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems, and Randstad Sourceright, US. He resides in Corinth, TX with his wife and 3 children.


5 Comments on “My Take On ‘The Fallacy of Sourcing’

  1. I just posted my thoughts on the ERE article and will share them here as well 🙂

    I will agree with the following statement: It does not take more than a few minutes to learn Boolean search. I will also agree with the idea that the issue is no longer finding people (finding the RIGHT people is another story…). However, to master anything – be it sourcing, recruiting, coding, nursing, sales, etc. – requires time, continual education, and experience, far beyond one training class.

    The fallacy, in my opinion, is saying that sourcing doesn’t work when you don’t properly invest in it – with time, continual training, and appropriate tracking. The biggest disservice anyone could do, IMHO, is to toss a tool at a sourcer, provide them with a training video or some kind of online tutorial, and expect them to instantly become an expert; and if that does not happen quickly enough to dismiss the effort as a waste of time and the individual as a fool. Teaching someone is the starting point – experience, trial-and-error, and practice is what leads to mastery.

    You do not hire new recruiters and leave them solely to their own devices – no, you give them coaching, training materials, and you work with them to help them get better. This is where I think sourcing gets a bad rap quite often – there are so few sourcing leaders out there who have actually done it themselves, and therefore very few people who have the ability to really develop great sourcing skills in others. Usually it’s just some recruiter or HR person who’s been moved into that role because no one else wants it, who doesn’t know how to measure sourcing success, and ultimately dismisses the sourcing function as a #fail because they couldn’t figure out how to make it successful.

    The vicious cycle, to me, is when you have sourcers who’ve unfortunately been subjected to the tool-toss or to management that doesn’t ‘get’ the functional value, and in whom there was never any real skill investment from their employers, so they move from contract to contract, or company to company, picking up bits and pieces on their own to try to become better. Kudos to those sourcers for taking responsibility for their own career development.

    Training is only the beginning of the process.

  2. I want to know who these mysterious sourcers are that never have problems finding candidates.

    If they were that good, they’d work for retained headhunters who would pay them far more than they could make inside.

    As for me – I’ve had the opportunity to go back over an area and technology I haven’t used in 7 years. When I sourced that community, using all of my current techniques, I would come across people I knew. Much of the information for them was wrong, outdated, and would be impossible for anyone to know unless they worked with them.

    In other roles, I’ve had to make hundreds of phone calls to narrow down a search. I’m an expert in that field. If I have to use the phone to distinguish quality, in a field where online presence is the job, it’s going to be much worse for internal recruiters with multiple reqs.

  3. I think it is funny that the only articles that tend to get people stirred up and talking is ones that seem to take an intentional stance that will piss people off. Nothing wrong per se about that just an observation like water is wet I guess 🙂
    Not taking sides as I have no dog in this fight but something to consider. We don’t need to find everyone in that chosen role/profession in that specific location to make a hire. Depending on your conversion ratio’s maybe you only really need to find 10. L….But these discussions always seem to be about ‘anyone’ or ‘everyone’ can be found online. Not sure if one day we will live in a society where everyone will but that us a discussion for another day.

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