Sourcing Is Sexy. Recruiting Is Raising Your Kids

Editor’s Note: Since I started at SourceCon in May, we’ve run several posts that have sparked debate between pure sourcers and their recruiting counterparts. I’ve had several recruiters reach out to see if they could write a rebuttal from the recruiters’ perspective, but only one has followed through. Below is Jim Durbin’s response to The 8 Most Annoying Comments Sourcers Hear From Recruiters. Enjoy!

Sourcing not the same as recruiting. While I appreciate my talented friends who build talent pipelines, org charts, and call lists for recruiters, they’re not doing themselves any favors comparing the two skill sets.

Hiring is the process of one flawed human deciding to give money to another flawed human in hopes the second flawed human is going to make the life of the first flawed human easier. That’s the basic idea of any interview. Does the manager picture the candidate solving problems, or do they picture them creating problems? The strongest picture wins.

Sourcing is the development of a list of flawed people who interest human #1. It’s an important first step, but even if the sourcer is contacting the people on that list, it’s the easiest part. Calling someone and telling them you have an interest in them is a positive phone call.

“You’re great. Do you want to talk to someone else that is great?”

That’s an easy call. It’s a call of hope, and promise, and validation. Someone likes you enough to call you and tell you they like you. It feels good. And if something feels good, you should do it. You know. Like sex. And also like sex, sometimes there is a more permanent result from all that sexy sourcing. A hire, or in the biological sense, a child.

Sourcing was the fun part. You got to show off, you got feel good yourself. There’s an afterglow. And there’s no responsibility.

Recruiting? It’s not like that.

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If you go back to the process of hiring, recruiting is sticking your nose into the lives of two flawed people, and convincing them to work together. You have to dig deeply into their needs, their abilities, their, wants, their fears, their experiences, and their options. You’re dealing with their emotions and with their egos. You’re building a relationship that will have a long-term impact on how well they work together, setting expectations that may or may not be met. And you’re doing so with a process designed to dehumanize both partners to mitigate risk, and on an artificial clock that focuses on the company, not the people.

Sourcing is awesome, wicked fun. It has metrics. It’s necessary to start the hiring process. But sourcers don’t have to ride the roller coaster of emotions that candidates and manager go through. They don’t deal with temper tantrums, night terrors, embarrassing public disclosures, or lashing out caused by fear of the unknown.

You guys get the fun part. We get the responsibility of making sure that fun was productive. So by all means, brag on about how good you got it, getting paid up front to identify candidates. But let’s not confuse the act of sourcing with the responsibility of raising our candidates to be good employees once they accept the offer.


Jim Durbin is the owner of
Durbin Media Group and a headhunter specializing in social media . As a blogger and a business owner, he is a valued speaker on the topics of online employment, recruiting blogs, and using social networks in the hiring process. Prior to starting the Durbin Media Group, he was a top performer as an account executive for national staffing firms. He entered the employment world in Los Angeles in 1999, at the peak of the dot-com boom. He is a 1995 graduate of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and currently lives in St Louis. For information on his latest training products, check out the Social Media Headhunter Café.


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