1 Recruiting-Sourcing Stone for 2 Birds?

You get what you pay for.  You sometimes get less, but you never get more. — Something I heard a long, long time ago, somewhere

One stone for two birds?

I don’t think so.

I know all you hiring managers and staffing officials out there would like your recruiters to be expert sourcers and your sourcers to be expert recruiters.

I know you all would like to kill two birds with one stone, but I can tell you right now, right here, it’s not going to happen.

It’s not going to happen because the two types of personality types are generally not found (in one person) in an organization.

They’re found outside organizations in the form of third party recruiters who have been cutting this mustard for years.

Now that we’ve given this brave and heroic special set the recognition and laurel crown they so richly deserve, let me tell you why you’re not likely to find these people inside your organization.

You refuse to pay them what they deserve to make.

Added to that handicap even if you would pay them close to, at (or above) what they can make on their own they’d likely not accept your offer because birds of this rare feather are usually solo practitioners — far too independent to cage themselves within the gilded cage of any organization.

Truth be told, they probably wouldn’t pass muster with your staffing requirements anyway, so let’s not spend any more of your valuable time yakkin’ away about them.

Let’s get back to the real reason for this article.

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you believe the current pundits that sourcers can be recruiters and recruiters can be sourcers.

Oh, I said that last part already, didn’t I?

Yes, but it bears repeating and more needs to be said.

There are a flurry of products coming at you right now that promise more than they can (really) deliver.

Most of your recruiters don’t really want to source and most of your sourcers don’t really want to recruit.

Trust me, I’ve thought long and hard on this one.

Each skill set requires vastly different personality types.

That’s the bottom line.

“Oh, but there’s LinkedIn,” you’re thinking to yourself.

LinkedIn isn’t sourcing; it’s resume farming — the same product the job boards have been offering for years.

As time goes on and the product continues to sour — oh, excuse me, I mean age — it will become more and more apparent exactly what it is.

Someday LinkedIn will be for sale, just like Monster, probably far below its highs.

There’ll be some bright new shiny object take its place.

The shine wears off everything.

Recruiters (as well as some sourcers) are more than willing to turn to and use any product that offers a “list of names” but it’s not a list of names you need in most instances.

What’s needed is a faculty for sourcing that delivers unique candidates in the shortest amount of time.

Unique candidates translate into those who are not easy, or are impossible to find online, and are not polluted by overexposure.

It usually takes a sourcer to do that. Most recruiters just plain don’t have the time to do it.

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I say it again: most don’t want to do it.

Most aren’t emotionally equipped to do it — they see it as something tedious at best.

Most see their time better spent doing things they enjoy – like engaging potential candidates delivered by their team-member sourcers.

Here’s another hardball.

Most sourcers don’t want to recruit.

Most aren’t emotionally equipped, either to do it.

It’s just not something they enjoy.

“Talking to people?  Get outta’ here,” is what runs through most of their heads when the director of the staffing department decides it’s time to tighten up the britch belts and squeeze more out of less.

That’s not the answer.

You’re barking up the wrong tree.

Your sourcers don’t want to recruit and your recruiters don’t want to source.

It takes two and as far as I can see down the road it’s going to continue to take two.

The lesson here: If you’re running a staffing department, don’t get it into your head that one person can do both functions.

It’s rare and the person that can do both is making a couple hundred thousand dollars (plus) a year.

Are you paying your recruiters that?

Are you paying your sourcers that?

If not, it’s not too likely either one is going to morph into the other.

This article was inspired by this.

photo from BigStock

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!


13 Comments on “1 Recruiting-Sourcing Stone for 2 Birds?

  1. Maureen,

    I disagree. Very successful Recruiters have been sourcing for decades – it’s a cop out to say one person can’t do both – they can – and I’m running a successful recruiting company where every single one of my recruiters does their own sourcing. It’s about organization, prioritization and hard work. Sourcing is magic or an art – it’s a process like anything else. Same with recruiting.

    I’ve run multiple staffing departments, with Fortune 500 companies – and please do get in your head that one person can do it all – they can – if you set that expectation!

    Tim (trained to do both recruiting and sourcing – 20 year successful career in the talent space – I’m not a rarity!)

  2. I’m with Tim on this one.

    I run a department of in house Staffing Managers, all of whom do a fantastic job in both sourcing and recruiting. It’s a pre-requisitie for anyone joining my team and when I hire, I look for those so called ‘rare’ qualities in people that give me the feeling that the person has the potential and here in lies my reasoning. I gave up trying to look for the finished article to join my team a long time ago. Instead I looked for the ‘Rare’ breed, a junior with oodles of potential, bags of ability, keen and willing to learn. Get them at this stage and trust me, they can and will do both if given the expectations clearly, the right amount of coaching and development, and some freedom to find their own feet.

    I will never look for just a recruiter or a sourcer, I want both and I nkow how to find both….. ;0)

  3. I think that Tim makes a good point – there are people in corporate and third party provider staffing that not only can do both, but HAVE to do both – it’s the model (and like Tim, it’s the model that I came up in). But I would be interested in comparing his people’s results in sourcing versus an organization where the roles are broken up.

    I would point out the necessity for separate roles is not based just on differences in personality, but on the simple fact that both types of roles are constantly evolving.

    Having someone just focused on recruiting, or just focused on sourcing, allows them to not only hone that skill and deliver it with a high degree of quality, but also allows them to constantly evaluate new ideas and trends, keeping their eyes open for innovation. Our clients expect this degree of attention to detail and innovation over the life of our engagements.

    I’m not saying that one person “can’t” do it, I’m only saying that it’s not the only way, and it may not be the best way if you’re looking to constantly innovate and stay on the cutting edge in both areas.

    James Holt

  4. I think the article that Maureen has written sparks good conversation – and I like that about Maureen.

    However, to lean to the extreme and say that you cannot have a Recruiter that sources or a Sourcer that recruits is a bit naive. There are literally thousands that do this today, and do it well.

    I know some truly amazing Sourcers that can “out source” most Recruiters but that either don’t have the interest or skillset to be a successful Recruiter.
    I also know some incredible Recruiters that can recruit better than any Sourcer I’ve ever met but that either don’t have the interest or skillset to be a successful Sourcer.

    This shouldn’t be an epiphany for anyone. There are extremes in any role – just like there are exceptions to any rule.
    My business model determines how far left or right I hire when looking for a recruiter or sourcer. If I’ve the luxury of having a sourcing AND a recruiting team, I’m getting the BEST of both worlds. If not, I may simply be hiring a kick-ass individual with a balanced delivery and call it a day. Candidly, I’m winning either way.

  5. I agree with Maureen. I haven’t seen an instance where many recruiters can do both successfully. I am a corporate recruiter who prides himself on his sourcing skills and I don’t see a lot of effective Recruiter/Sourcers. In the past this may have bedn the case but talent acquisition is so complex now that it has to effectively be broken up into two specialiies: Recruiting or Sourcing.

    I hate to agree that I can’t do both but that is an indictment of me personally, not the entire industry. I truly believe that, while some organizations may be doing this successfully, they are not nearly as successful as they could be by splitting the function into two separate specialities.

  6. Tim,
    I agree with you. I source my heart out then I sell sell sell the position to the right person after I vet them! Been doing both for over 20 years.


  7. I do it ALL too, BUT I don’t LOVE sourcing, I LOVE Recruiting (Sales/Influencing/Persuading)

    This is a well-written article… I LOVE how Maureen processes information, and her writing style is at EXPERT level in my view… Keep up the GREAT work!!!


  8. @ Maureen. Thanks for the article.
    Sourcing is VITAL, and it needs to be done well. The vast majority of sourcing that needs to be done can be done for
    $6.25/hr or less with through-sourcing (automation) or out-sourcing (sending it away). HOWEVER, not everyone can be found this way, in which case you need the pros like Maureen, Irina, Glenn, Mark, Shally, etc. and you should be prepared to pay at least $50/hr or $40/name for their services.

    If you need the very hardest to find, you’re in that elite class with the folks just mentioned, and it’s the best use of your time (or you can’t afford the best, then do the sourcing yourself. Otherwise- let somebody/something else do it better and probably cheaper, too.



  9. Agree with all of the above. I’ll add that sourcing is not just going on websites to find folks. Sourcing is everything you do to get great people to apply. Good sourcers ARE good recruiters – they network, they build relationships, they can quickly gain an understanding of who they do and don’t want to target for their particular company (both corporate and agency). And this translates directly to good recruiting – you just take it to the next level in further evaluating your candidates and partnering with hiring managers. Sourcing is NOT just harvesting names off of a database.

    Now, I want to know who is making ‘couple hundred thousand dollars per year’ doing both sourcing and recruiting…even in my agency days, I wasn’t getting that kind of pay. Or are they BS-ing us?

  10. Hi

    Thanks for the article. I have been a sourcer since many years and part an organisation with 100 sourcers. I agree with Maureen that most sourcers may not like to be recruiters.This is not because they are emotionally unequipped, but possibly because finding candidates, networking, building relations and selling roles is what they like. Sourcing requires specialised skills and now we have Shelly’s sourcing institute providing courses in sourcing. Definitely sourcers and recruiters need to collaborate with each other rather than competing with each other which is a common phenomenon.

    Organisations can mentain the balance between both the functions and definitely benefit in faster/cost effective closures

  11. Maureen is great at getting everyone talking, whether you agree or not. The question is how it scales. In a smaller company, you need people who can do both. In a larger company, it’s going to be hard to find enough people who do both well. It can be more cost-effective to split the functions (see what the big RPOs are doing). Additionally, many corporate recruiting operations like buying unbundled services (which is why firms like Maureen’s can thrive). Whatever you choose, Siby Thomas is right that the sourcers and recruiters need to collaborate well in order for the model to work. Where the handoff process is not smooth (or worse, friction exists) then it fails. That’s why many corporate recruiting managers prefer having people who can do both: it reduces the personnel headaches.

  12. Most of the successful recruiters I have dealt with are also great at sourcing candidates. Some organizations don’t require a recruiter to be a good sourcer but that is because they have large budgets which allow them split to two roles. Small shops don’t have that luxury and that is where the need for a recruiter to also be great at sourcing candidates comes in.

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