Sourcer or Recruiter – The Dividing Line

The evolution of the modern-day recruiting model has totally confused the roles we play as sourcers in the life cycle of the recruiting process. If you have been in this business more than ten years you will probably feel comfortable with my opinion stated here. I have a few thoughts to share on what I believe are some differences between the functions of these pieces of the process and how the marketplace continues to interpret these titles.

As organizations continue to streamline the recruiting process, the challenges of technology and real time data provide a whirlwind of information hitting us in the face at warp speeds. We try to use tools to capture this data and hopefully take that opportunity to use additional technological resources to engage in finding the right candidate for our openings. But can a person truly deep-dive and chase all means of paths on a daily basis to engage with candidates to ‘woo’ them to your house? Not in my opinion; you have to sleep at some point, right?

Let’s start with the idea of sourcing. This role is designed for someone who is a true hunter of information. Once given the menu, this person steps into the market to find the valuable ingredients needed to give to the chef (aka recruiter). A true sourcer will go down many paths, and I mean many, to identify and establish true content to give to the recruiter. A sourcer will not engage with the candidate either verbally or electronically. They are the experts in understanding the scope of the role and will use many tools to identify the subject that would potentially be the fit. These people like to lurk, hide in interesting places and gather the intelligence and get all giggly when they turn the data over to the engager, aka the recruiter.

Now let’s talk about the recruiter role. This is the person who can take all the ingredients from the sourcer and create a compelling message to engage with the candidate. These folks qualify, sell, speak, and hand-hold the candidate until they say “YES”, and will even establish an on-going relationship with the person. The recruiter function is an art that is developed with experience over time. This person has to be able to flex their personality to adapt to other personalities, be positive, excitable, deal with up and down situations, and be goal-driven to meet the demand of the project. I think it takes a special person to be successful in the recruiting role.

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Now that we have broken it down, there will always be this debate: do we divide these functions into separate roles or combine them into one role? I think there are three different types of people in our field: people who just want to research and hunt, people who want to talk/engage with the candidate, and then there are the types who like to do both.  You can set this up any way you want within your organization – all have been proven to work, it’s just a matter of what is executable, productive, and will bring value to your business.

What is your opinion in the difference? Should these job functions be divided, or can one person do both?  Share your experiences, thoughts, and comments below.

Ronnie is a professional recruiter/sourcer with 13 years of experience within the Information Technology vertical. He has consulted and completed projects with organizations such as Sears Holdings Corporation, Microsoft, Avanade and Celerant Consulting. He currently serves as Co-Chairman & Social Media Manager for the Technology Association of Georgia Recruiting Society. He is very active in competitive cycling and races for the L5Flyers Cycling Team based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter @ronniebratcher or connect through LinkedIn.


8 Comments on “Sourcer or Recruiter – The Dividing Line

  1. Hi Ronnie, It was good to go through your post. I guess most of the professionals into Recruitments can relate to this topic. Just to add to it, there are very few organization where these 2 roles are treated seperately. And rest of the org’s consider it as one. It depends on the Recruitment Model with the Organizations. It seems to bo cost effective in case they have a seperate Sourcing team (Huge Numbers to hire).
    At the end of the day, Both are equally inmportant and both require expert skills to Source / Recruit.

  2. “…………a whirlwind of information hitting us in the face at warp speeds……………” = sounds like #SocialWebSourcing & the way you cut thru is by gettin’ uber @ ‘select’ technique(s) from those Talent Pools (as work product of crowd-sourcing + socialization of oppty’s)

    confused yet?


    1. I agree that a sourcer is a lot different from a recruiter. I have had job offers for sourcer at sourcer pay rates that, after extensive questioning, end up being the same duties as recruiter. I am a recruiter with expert sourcing skills; sourcers earn less than recruiters. I am coming to believe many employers are using the sourcing title for a recruiting jobs to pay less

  3. Great post!

    I have been lucky enough to work at companies where the role was structured based on the individual’s skills. For example in my last role we had internet researchers and candidate developers, both under the umbrella of sourcing, but having very different roles on a day to day basis.

    Sometimes those roles were combined but sourcing skill often seems like a sliding scale, if someone has great research skills they won’t do as much work approaching candidates, or vice versa, and often when someone is doing both the level to which they do that is less than if they focused in one area.

  4. While I do agree with a good bit of the information you give, I would like to say that a *true* sourcer, as opposed to a name generator or Researcher, will absolutely contact candidates and start building meaningful and long term relationships.

    A name generator or Researcher is someone who compiles lists of names (often from telephone rusing) and profiles/resumes, from various sources to hand over to recruiters. However, often these candidates are not qualified beyond a resume if appropriate. This is where it is key to understand the role of a Senior Sourcer who has full lifecycle experience and isn’t averse to picking up the phone, from a junior internet recruiter who’s only job is to scour the internet looking for names.

  5. Great Article, Ronnie. Our most effective method is the combination of a professionally trained & seasoned Sr. Internet Sourcer who can ascertain competitive landscape, skills, etc. partnered with a Sr. Full Cycle Recruiter. The Internet Sourcer is a full partner in the process, but does not get on the phone. Instead, he/she hones deep skills around research, boolean, linkedin, github, the 4 quadrants, and many many other sources of information and leads to ferret out a complete competitive landscape + short-list for the recruiter to strategically attack. Thanks! Shannon Anderson @ShannAnder

  6. I have to say I agree with Kristen. I think there is yet another category besides recruiter and sourcer, and it is that of researcher or name generator. The sourcer, to me, is the one who likes to do both. I say this because I have held both roles and titles: Researcher, who gave names I generated over to a recruiter who then called them, and I never once made contact. And then, next, I have been a “sourcer” and always in that role I have contacted the people I found. It might be interesting to, at some point, define some industry standards of what makes a true “sourcer”, a true “researcher” and a true “recruiter” even though we will probably always have all the shades of gray in between……

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