Sourcing Is Simple

… but that doesn’t mean that it is easy.

I hear from some who do not understand sourcing’s purpose as a separate function within a recruitment organization that it’s “easy — anyone can source!” or that it “doesn’t need to be a separate function… sourcing is the easiest part of the whole process of recruiting.”

Is sourcing simple? Yes. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Unless you’ve been practicing for a while. Let me explain.

Simple: Plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something.

Easy: Achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties; requiring little skill or effort.

Simple means that something is straightforward and understandable in its basic foundations. Basically, simple is the theory statement.

Easy means that a task can be completed without much knowledge, skill, effort, thought, or education. Easy is the execution statement.

We all know that there is a big difference between theory and execution. Just because a person understands something doesn’t mean that he or she is able (or willing) to actually do it. (And do it well!)

There is no action statement in simplicity. You don’t say that something was accomplished with much “simplicity.” You do say though that it was accomplished with great “ease.”

It may seem like I’m being overly pedantic in this explanation, but when it comes to sourcing, knowing about it and actually doing it are night and day. Sourcing can certainly be understood with simple instruction. Simple education. Simple demonstration. But sitting down to a computer, or picking up a telephone, to actually engage in sourcing — that’s anything but easy.

That is, if you expect quality results.

There is the qualifying statement. Sourcing CAN be easy… but only by investing much time and effort into its “simplicity” in order to produce quality results. And I’m sure every last one of you would agree that quality is of the utmost importance when sourcing for candidates to fill your open positions.

Here’s a great example I found showing the difference between simple and easy in everyday life:

Finishing a marathon is simple.

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Put one foot in front of the other.

Repeat as necessary – go 26.2 miles.

I wish it were so easy.

Have you ever tried to diet? The idea of it is simple — eat less + exercise more = lose weight. But anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that it isn’t easy! Quitting smoking as well — simple, right? All you have to do is put down that cigarette. How many of you have tried multiple times to do this? It’s one of the hardest things to do.

How much this exemplifies the art and science of sourcing! An opening may seem simple to fill — “All we need is A, B, and C.” But the ease in finding that simple list? Sometimes, you may spend a whole day sourcing for that type of candidate and only find one person. Hiring authoriries, recruiters, and sadly even some of our own managers look at sourcing with this kind of mindset. “All we need is this… why can’t you find it? It’s EASY.” If it were only that easy.

Sourcing is the simplest part of the recruiting process. “Find people for opportunity.” No-brainer for simplicity there. Compared to recruiting (“Sell people on opportunity”) and HR (“Keep people happy/productive in opportunity”) — absolutely, I agree.

But is it easy? No. It takes years of difficult “simple” to produce the illusion of “easy” — training, practice, and a great understanding of proper sourcing for quality results is what will turn simple into easy.

“Many things in life are simple, very few worth doing well are easy.”

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter, and, with ERE Media. These days she's working on some super cool market intelligence and data analytics projects. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.


2 Comments on “Sourcing Is Simple

  1. First, I agree with you for the most part. That is, sourcing is far from easy. There’s rarely any low-hanging fruit to be had.
    But to your point that sourcing is simple, I think your analogy breaks down a bit. I think that finding someone with A, B & C is something that’s closer to the goal (finishing the marathon) than the process. If that’s so, for sourcing to be easy, you must be able to describe HOW to find someone with A, B &C attributes in simple terms that can be followed.
    I think that’s where the “simple” part breaks down. In short, while good sourcers probably do a lot of the same things, there’s no guide that, if followed correctly, will generally lead to success. Furthermore, if there were, it would be constantly under revision. The rules or tricks of the trade that applied 5 years ago mostly don’t apply now, and what the best and the brightest people are doing today might not work all that well five years from now.
    So, while some kid in Kenya can grow up running barefoot across the plains and perhaps have some chance of growing up to be a world class marathon runner, and another kid from Kenya might be able to do the same thing in much the same way ten years from now, nothing similar exists when it comes to sourcing.
    Sourcing is somewhat complicated, constantly evolving, and often (not always) hard.
    I also think the same is true of the recruit and retain components. 
    Good thought-provoking article though. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Tim. Your thoughts on simple are also correct — when we are talking about human beings, nothing is simple, is it! I think this is why it is so important for us to educate our peers and co-workers about the importance of sourcing. Whether sourcing is performed by a recruiter or a dedicated sourcer, it’s not simply the throw-away portion of the recruiting process. Appreciate you chiming in on this article!

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