What is Sourcing? SourceCon Weighs In

What is sourcing? This is an important question that the talent acquisition community has been wrestling with in recent years. Glen Cathey, author of BooleanBlackBelt.com, wrote the latest post on the subject this week. In the post, Glen proposes a universal definition of sourcing:

The proactive identification, engagement and assessment of talent focusing solely on non-applicants (typically passive talent) with the end goal of producing qualified, interested and available candidates. – Glen Cathey

When I joined SourceCon in May, this was a question I too was wrestling with. In my previous roles as a sourcer, recruiter, and sourcing manager, I had always been tasked with presenting qualified, interested, and available candidates. The leadership teams I reported to weren’t interested in how large of a list I could build. They were interested in me presenting the right 2-3 people for each requisition.

To explore the situation further, we developed and conducted an online survey of sourcing and recruiting professionals. The results of the survey validated my previous thoughts about candidate engagement. 79% of the survey respondents who held the title of sourcer were responsible for presenting qualified, interested, and available candidates.

Why was this so important to me? As a conference organizer serving recruiters and sourcers, I had some important decisions to make. Most importantly, would future SourceCon agenda’s focus exclusively on candidate identification? Or, would we focus on helping our attendees improve their skills and knowledge of candidate identification and candidate engagement?

We chose to expand the definition of sourcing. The SourceCon Spring agenda includes several general sessions and a lab session which focus on making the transition from candidate identification to candidate engagement. A few of the candidate engagement focused sessions include:

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Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of sourcing hacks shared! We just want to make sure we include how to move beyond identification to engagement, which is the metric most of our attendees are measured by.

Do you support the expanded definition of sourcing?

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.

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2 Comments on “What is Sourcing? SourceCon Weighs In

  1. I came here from your Facebook posting that linked here to see that this link from January of this year has zero comments, Jeremy? Is this the one you said had a lot of clicks or was it the ERE recent post you meant had a lot of clicks and comments?

    Maybe why this (January of this year!) post to the sourcing community has no comments:

    Could it be that maybe not too many sourcers are that interested in the “engage” part of Glen’s definition of sourcing? The definition outlined above is *really* (let’s call this spade what it is) the definition or recruiting. You guys are talkin’ a good, big game but like they say in radio, “if I wanted someone to see me I would’ve gone into television.” People are attracted to sourcing for a reason, Jeremy. Sourcers, in some ways share in common some of the autistic characteristics of some software developers; they want peace and quiet, they want a henchman between them and the world and most of all they want to know that what they trained for and were hired for isn’t going to be switched out from under them in some sleight-of-hand they’re not going to catch.

    Sourcers aren’t stupid, Jeremy.

    “Give me the right 2-3 people for each requisition,” looks like a recruiting contract – not a sourcing contract – to me.

    Here’s what I think happened to sourcing (and recruiting) during the latest downturn in the economy:

    Recruiters were some of the first (aren’t they always?) to go.

    Sourcing, meanwhile was getting RED HOT and to stay (or get) employed, recruiters started adding the word SOURCER to their resumes to SEX THEM UP.

    It worked.

    Recruiters started getting called by companies thinking they’d SAVE MONEY by hiring lower-cost sourcers when these resumes started churning up called up by the “SOURCER” buzzword in the company applicant tracking systems.

    “Hey, we’ll get two for one – this guy’s a sourcer AND he’s a recruiter- he’ll work cheap. Here’s a female and she’s a recruiter too – she’ll be even cheaper!”

    That’s how it happened and that’s what you’re dealing with and there ain’t no other lipstick than Resentment Red to describe the true reaction of what’s going on in the sourcing (and recruiting) community.

    That’s why you guys pitch to the recruiting community – it’s much, much larger than the sourcing community and thinks the sourcing community has it “so much easier.”

    You’re trying to train recruiters to source and it’s not a bad idea; however there’s fallout on both sides as both sides are eyeing each other as the enemy.

    Each other is not the enemy – it’s upper management who’s pinching pennies in acts of economy that aren’t making sense on the “human resource” level as they’re asking two different personality types to do two different jobs.

    You guys are creating noise and confusion on the sidelines.

    Nobody’s asking why is the system broken.

    Everybody’s trying to fix something with fancy fixes that really has a pretty easy fix.

    And that’s the problem in a nutshell.

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