Should a Talent Sourcer Be Certified?

In many industries, there is one certification that stands out as THE certification for the profession (PMP for project management, CFP for financial planning, SPHR and PHR for HR). Sourcing is still a relatively new function and there are numerous organizations in the race to establish themselves as the go-to sourcing and recruiting certification.

Is a sourcing certification worth the investment? I think it can be… if you hire the right employees to put through the program. A certification, or any training for that matter, can make a good sourcer better. However, in my opinion, a certification won’t make a bad sourcer good. On a side note, be looking for an article from Jim Schneider next week that will break down the DNA of a good sourcer. I would argue that you should only be investing in certifications for candidates that fit this criteria.

Below is a list of the certifications currently being offered by AIRS, Social Talent, The Sourcing Institute, and the People Sourcing Certification Program. When reviewing the available options, consider the following:

  1. Is the program 100% online or is a portion of it given in a classroom setting? (ie: Is it convenient?)
  2. What is the cost?
  3. Can the organization provide references?


Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR)
Advanced Certified Internet Recruiter (ACIR)
Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR)
Certified Social Sourcing Recruiter (CSSR)
Certified Social Media Recruiter (CSMR)
Professional Recruiter Certification (PRC)

Social Talent

Orange Belt in Internet Recruitment
Blue Belt in Internet Recruitment
Brown Belt in Internet Recruitment
Black Belt in Internet Recruitment

The Sourcing Institute

Article Continues Below

TSI Member Level
TSI Specialist Level
TSI Professional Level
TSI Leadership Level
TSI Leadership Only Level

The People Sourcing Certification

Certified People Sourcing Professional 1 (CPSP -1)
Certified People Sourcing Professional 2 (CPSP-2)

Do you have a sourcing certification? Have you taken a course from any of these providers? Share your opinions in the comments section below.

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.


37 Comments on “Should a Talent Sourcer Be Certified?

  1. I have completed the People Sourcing Certification 2 .What I really enjoyed about the program is the focus of boosting productivity through having a solid understanding and foundation of the principals of people sourcing. The certification offered hands-on practice (a key to getting hands-on skills!) by providing practice sessions and one month of unlimited support. Irina Shamaeva (Chief Sourcer at Brain Gain Recruiting) was fantastic to work with and provided excellent advice and support throughout the program. In addition it is an affordable Certification compared to most other certifications offered in the industry.

  2. I am CPSP-2 Certified and the Certification helped me get insight into certain techniques which I have applied to optimise interenet researching and better candidate engagement. I agree that it will not make a bad sourcer good but it will definitely improve the skills of a good sourcer but certification should be careful investment. I have always believed that to be good in sourcing one has to be passionate about it and has to be driven to learn new aspects in research. Irina has been a fantastic coach and offered practice sessions which has been really excellent

  3. Great to see all of this information in one place. I wasn’t sure if TSI was still in business. With AIRS that alphabet soup is almost comical.

  4. I completed Irina’s CPSP – 1 course, which was excellent.
    The reason Irina’s courses stand out is because she and her team
    provide, in addition to the quality course material, numerous hands-on practice
    sessions, solid, spot-on explanations to the material, and great feedback. In addition, they made themselves consistently available to their students to answer questions. Irina, Chief Sourcer at Brain Gain Recruiting, and David Galley, Sourcing Strategist, are truly talented sourcers that are a pleasure to learn from.

    I highly recommend this course.

  5. The only Sourcing certification I posses is the People Sourcing Certification Level 2- Not only was it “not easy”, but it literally put me to the test on best practices in online research and sourcing: I learned and applied techniques which are not so obvious to most sourcers. So if you really want to step up your sourcing rock star skills, I totally recommend Irina Shamaeva’s PSCP hands down- and not just because she has an engineering and math background, and is a friend and fellow sourcer: because IT’S WORTH it and your employer will love you!

  6. Having
    completed the AIRS Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and a partial AIRS Advanced
    Certified Internet Recruiter (ACIR), as well as the two People Sourcing
    Certifications – CPSP-1 and CPSP-2, I firmly believe the CPSP programs to be
    superior to AIRS. Why? CPSP is a better value product. It has a user friendly, interactive online delivery
    structure, comprehensive and leading edge program content, challenging practice
    tasks which are assessed with feedback provided, comprehensive examinations,
    and most importantly unlimited online support to participants throughout the
    4-5 week programs from the team of experts who conduct CPSP – notably Irina Shamaeva,
    Dave Galley and George Glikman who all do an outstanding job to deliver a great
    product and participant experience. If
    you have Sourcers / Talent Researchers that you want to professionally develop
    — I highly recommend the CPSP programs.

  7. I am a CPC, CIR and ACIR and what a world a difference the training makes! I was, when hired, a new concept to the company – sourcer – there is no one able to train me, I was flittering in the wind, now I am able to streamline my process and have been sourcing for 2.5 years and love it. I highly recommend AIRS courses, they not only offer inclass and online courses, you can call them up for follow-up advice which really helps when you need to reevaluate your process or an extremely difficult search. I believe with the courses you can become much more successful and open more doors for yourself.

  8. The reason to get them has nothing to do with being a “good” sourcer or not; it’s about being competitive. There will be plenty of people using certs to tip the job scales in their favor. If you don’t get them, you’re at a disadvantage even before you get started. There really isn’t a good excuse not to get certified.

  9. I was lucky enough to take Irina’s 2 CPSP Certification classes, and absolutely loved it. The techniques Irina has uncovered are unbelievable, she truly thinks outside of the box, and luckily for her students she is passing her knowledge on to them. I would recommended the CPSP program to any Sourcer/Recruiter. The thing I liked most about the program is that Irina is there on an individual basis with students to answer specific questions about any of the materials taught. The price is right too for CPSP.

  10. I just noticed a colleague in Detroit with “Certified Recruiter” as his current title for an IT recruitment firm and made me curious how legit exactly is this credential?

    1. Hi All,

      I am looking at getting hold of the training material from AIRS for CIR – ACIR – CSSR – CSMR – ECRC….

      Appreciate assistance in this regard.

      grassik (at) gmail (.) com

  11. I also only possess the CPSP-2. I can’t speak much to the AIRS programs, although I’ve heard many good thing about it. My choice for pursuing Irina’s program boiled down to its hands-on approach – in addition, it was very affordable and accommodating. Irina was very involved and easily accessible during the training, and I feel that I was able to learn a great deal from taking the time to practice what I was taught.

  12. Out of all of these, I much prefer AIRS. The instructors are professional, engaging, down to earth and always open to questions. They all seem to love what they do and make it an exceptionally comfortable environment for everyone regardless of experience level. On top of it all, they keep up with the cutting edge technology. It’d be really difficult for me to come up with even one negative thing about AIRS. Highly reccommended for any sourcer or recruiter.

  13. I am a Sourcing Institute Professional Level certified recruiter and it has been an asset to the way I work as a senior recruiter and now senior sourcer. The training focuses on the efficiencies of your work and focuses on the job description and seeing beyond the obvious to help identify candidates that were once near impossible to find. In addition the training is recognized by many client companies and it has helped me in securing employment from some excellent clients. I recommend the training to any recruiter/sourcer who wants to increase their skills exponentially!

  14. I am currently TSIP-Sourcing Institute Professional Level certified recruiter. I found the training to be top notch. They not only teach you the basics of recruiting and sourcing but the show you the latest tools, tips and tricks and are constantly updating their material. One of the things I like best is they now offer their training on a module basis. Meaning if you are already certified or just want some additional training you do not have to take the whole certification, you can take just the one course and they are very responsibly priced.

  15. I am CSPS Level 1 certified. I looked into AIRS and they were too expensive and seemed like they were teaching things I already knew. Irina’s Peoplesourcing certification course is great because of the breadth of knowledge she has as a Sourcer and as a software engineer. The internet is vast and complex, and she gives you reliable tools to find your fish in that great ocean.

  16. I am a TSI Professional Level Certified Recruiter and Leadership certified through The Sourcing Institute’s program. I believe that any Sourcer/Recruiter who wants takes their career to the next level needs to be training at all times, its like a professional athlete, always enhancing your skills to help deliver the best results to the organization you are working for. I can speak for the training I received from The Sourcing Institute was top notch, hands on, intensive in class training, cutting edge and very theory driven. The modules and classes are always changing with current states of our industry, so its not just a one stop ordeal, you have to refine your knowledge and skills by continuing your education. So yes, there is a lot of value to investing in quality training and should be provided to all levels from entry to professional practitioner’s in our field.

  17. I dont like the titles. I have them on Linked in but it means VERY little to anyone no matter how are AIRS/SHRM has tried. Most courses I have taken were worthless. Boolean strings> old hat. We have evolved. The only course I have take that I thought was relevant was by the Sourcing Institute. There are multiple courses to choose from, you can certify or not. It is not expensive. There is more than to sourcing than taking one or two classes for thousands of dollars. I think 15 years in the business means more than 1 year and 5 certs.

    1. I agree that 15 yrs in the business means more than a certain # of certifications, however, if one does not have that many years of experience and needs to advance their skills and perhaps does not have the environment in which to gain such knowledge from co-workers then I believe the training courses are definitely worth taking. Just because something is old hat doesnt mean it no longer works and doesn’t mean its not worth the time to really have a solid understanding of it..

  18. I have also completed the Certified People Sourcing Professional 2 (CPSP-2) and I highly recommend on it. It gave me the
    right background, great tools and tips to master the sourcing field.

    I came to this training after I worked
    as a sourcer for 2 years and felt that I knew most of the basics but needed
    help pushing my skills to a new higher level and this program certainly did.

    I believe it’s the best out there and I
    highly recommend anyone in the field to do this training.

    In addition, the team is highly
    professional and responsive. It was very helpful to listen to the training, to
    do the exercises and the test online and at my convenient time.

  19. I’d go with TSI’s courses over the rest. Shally’s spent years developing & refining the classes presented there & everything’s reasonably priced.

  20. Not all CPA’s are alike. Not all CPC’s are alike. They
    share the same knowledge, but not the same skills. What they share in common is they have gone through a standardize curriculum that they have passed the test on what the best of their respective industries share as essential knowledge.

    Much of my learning about sourcing is word of mouth; colleagues in the sourcing community sharing hacks and new tools that will take talent information gathering to the next level. In a way, sourcers are the black hats of talent acquisition. And throughout my career, I have been blessed to learn from the best. And how I applied that knowledge is reflective of my skills and abilities. Education, training and certification creates an opportunity for our craft to become a sustainable profession.

    What should a sourcer know how to do? That is a question that I asked myself when thinking about the SourceCon Sourcing Lab program for SourceCon 2013 Seattle. As I crowdsourced the Sourcing 7 and the local sourcing community, it was clear that the ideas were all over the map. Please excuse the commercial–the SourceCon 2013 Seattle Sourcing Lab program presented by Sourcing 7 team is geared specifically towards what we think a sourcer should know how to do–competitive intelligence, social sourcing, diversity sourcing, etc. In an industry without standard measurement, it our approach to leveling the playing field.

    Getting back to the discussion at hand, I do believe that certification is essential if sourcing is going to be taken seriously as a talent acquisition discipline. I have been AIRS trained and retrained (I believe my certs have lapsed). I found those trainings very useful and informative. When speaking to a colleague that has taken the same training, I have the benefit of knowing how deep to take a conversation around sourcing because I understand their level of knowledge around sourcing. Make sense?

    I find it exciting that Shally, Jonathan & Irina are offering the sourcing industry some options with respect to certification. I have not had the opportunity to review their specific curriculum, but having worked with Shally at Microsoft, I know of his training capabilities. I have attended webinars offered by Jonathan and Irina and they seem to be very skilled.

    I find it exciting that there will be competition in the sourcing certification space. Which cert will be recognized as the best? I think the marketplace will dictate that to us which certification will mean the most. It may end up like an MBA degree (they are not all alike either); the top programs are recognized for their quantitative approach, while other MBA programs are qualitative and serve their purpose as well.

    We sourcers, as the “industry” will have a key role in determining the common core elements of a sourcing certification in order for that certification to be an industry standard. The sourcing profession is moving to the next level and it is an exciting time.

    Speaking of exciting times, I hope to see you in Seattle in October.

  21. I think it might be useful to people considering sourcing certifications, if each of the sourcing providers can write – say 1000 character, description of their course’s competitive & differentiating strengths.

    Sourcers in different types of companies & with different experience may benefit from a different type of teaching styles and content. Some may like online only vs others may like voice interactions. etc….

  22. As long as there is no wider recognition among the HR/TA leaders of these certification programs sourcers can do it only for learning purposes (even they think they can stand out from the crowd with them (but they, sorry!, can’t)).

    A standard, globally accepted recognition process should follow a thinking something like this:
    1) HR/Talent Acquisition/Recruitment leaders are aware of what a sourcer does (or can/should do)
    2) They want to hire the best sourcers
    3) They are aware of the standard sourcing certifications and can choose the one that would the best fit to their need
    4) There is a significant difference among the certification programs that is easily understandable by non-sourcing people
    5) Leaders recruit those sourcers first (or only those ones) that have the certification
    6) Due to the business need and awareness more and more sourcers go for a certification program to build their prestige

    The reality, however, is:
    1) HR/Talent Acquisition/Recruitment leaders have little clue about what a sourcer does (or can/should do)
    2) They want to hire cheap
    3) They have never heard about any sourcing certification programs but if so, they do not know what that is all about
    4) Even I would not be able to exactly tell my friend how much and in what these programs differ.

  23. While I can’t speak in specifics about all the Sourcing courses, offering, training, or certifications currently available, I can speak specifically regarding Shally’s training, i.e. The Sourcing Institute (TSI). I am TSI Professional Level Certified. What impressed me with TSI is getting the opportunity to learn from someone who has been teaching, managing, speaking, practicing, and researching sourcing techniques/strategies for over a decade. The material presented through TSI has had an immediate impact to my sourcing and recruiting strategies. We all know training is vital especially in an industry where the tools and techniques are rapidly changing before our very eyes – invest in yourself! And of course network with other sourcers!

  24. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that Certification is ultimately only as valuable as the underlying expertise it represents. In other words, “all certifications are not created equal”. While I agree with Jeremy Roberts’ when he says “a certification, or any training for that matter, can make a good sourcer better;” I also believe that a “Certified Sourcer” should be able to consistently deliver real-world sourcing outcomes that are empirically superior to non-certified peers. Without such differentiation, certification is of limited value. While I can not knowledgeably speak for the value of other programs mentioned here, I can say that The Sourcing Institute (TSI) has earned my respect. TSI founder, Shally Steckerl is the real deal: a caring, dedicated, and brilliant professional with a heart-felt passion for advancing the art of sourcing. TSI training is the vehicle by which Shally sees tangible results – time after time – via all who study and apply his teachings.

  25. While there are some great sourcers without
    any certifications, there are also a lot of really bad sourcers out there who
    were never trained properly and are diluting the talent pool! Continuously learning
    and honing our sourcing skills are essential to remain relevant in this
    industry. As with anything in life, if you’re not green and growing, you’re
    ripe and rotting… I have my TSI Leader and TSI Specialist Cert through SourceU,
    also ACIR, CIR, CDR, CSSR (certified in 2009 & again in 2012 by AIRS) and I
    am a Certified LinkedIn Recruiter Expert. I regularly attend industry events,
    webinars and trainings to keep current. I personally LOVE the SourceU training modules.
    It was a welcome change in content from the AIRS classes (that I feel are
    pretty played out with old material). Shally is an amazing trainer and mentor,
    I learned something new in each class. SourceU is the first ever Online
    University fully dedicated to the HR discipline of sourcing & recruiting
    and you earn CEU’s!

  26. While there are some great sourcers without
    any certifications, there are also a lot of really bad sourcers out there who
    were never trained properly and are diluting the talent pool… Continuously learning
    and honing our sourcing skills are essential to remain relevant in this
    industry. As with anything in life, if you’re not green and growing, you’re
    ripe and rotting! I have my TSI Leader and TSI Specialist Cert through SourceU,
    also ACIR, CIR, CDR, CSSR (certified in 2009 & again in 2012 by AIRS) and I
    am a Certified LinkedIn Recruiter Expert. I regularly attend industry events,
    webinars and trainings to keep current. I personally LOVE the SourceU training modules.
    It was a welcome change in content from the AIRS classes (that I feel are
    pretty played out with old material). Shally is an amazing trainer and mentor,
    I learned something new in each class. SourceU is the first ever Online
    University fully dedicated to the HR discipline of sourcing & recruiting
    and you earn CEU’s!

    1. Thanks for those information, I’m new in HR & Recruitment and I need the right advise is AIRS Worth Or SourceU is better .

  27. Most of the courses on the website are not available, so to an experienced professional, it would appear that this resource has yet to be built out completely. Also the number of modules is over whelming and not cost effective.

  28. I’m in agreement with Siby. I was interested on how my skills would stand up against a certification. I looked at three carefully – The Sourcing Institute, HCI and People Sourcing. Ultimately choosing Irina’s People Sourcing course; as she is (in my opinion) “the” go to resource for sourcing knowledge, and she personally sources, opposed to just training or being a corporate/agency executive. It was not an easy course. I found it to be very comprehensive and informative. I walked away learning some new tricks and reinforcing others. I like having a similar credential to validate my sourcing ability, just as one does with an SPHR or a degree. Recently a potential client asked me to validate my sourcing capability and I mentioned that I was just certified at the Level 2 from Irina’s program, upon which she said.. that’s substantial validation!

  29. Dean – You should always disclose that you and Shalley work together and that you are part of the TSI team.

  30. I am AIRS certified, and have taken classes with Sourcing Institute.
    Both are challenging.
    I think that there is no “better” its like comparing Ivy League Universities.
    Yale vs Harvard. Brown vs Princeton.
    I do believe to be a good Sourcer you have to continuously stay abreast of new ways and new methods.
    Google changes their Algorithm quarterly, and Linkedin is not the Holy Grail.

    Pick a Certification – and go get it!

    1. I want to improve my recruitment skill, can you advice me which certification is valuable and worth taken .

  31. We were initially a little wary of the hype surrounding Linkedin and web sourcing but although we still believe it is essential to have a mix of advertising , database search and the other old reliables in terms of candidate attraction , passive candidate sourcing is now responsible for 30% of our placements.
    We have put most of recruiters through Social Talent’s Blue belt in internet recruitment and have been amazed with the results . It has brought our consultants sourcing to a new level and although we used the classroom version the online version looks excellent and is being rolled out across the UK by the REC. Johnny is definitely one of the worlds leading non bull**** experts on trends in internet recruitment but more importantly your recruiters will come away with practical information enabling them to source difficult to find candidates.

  32. Hello,
    I have 4 years of experience as a HR Generalist. I am currently looking for a job after extended maternity break. I see lot of recruiter job opportunities but I have no experience as a recruiter. Could someone here advice me as to what would be the best certification that will add value to my resume. Thanks.

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