Determining a Sourcer’s Worth

I am worth $1.83 million.

No, seriously, I am — at least, that’s what told me. I took their survey and the resulting value on my person was nearly $2 million. Of course, I’d like to think that I am priceless. (Waiting while you all vomit…) Try it for yourself and see what you’d go for on eBay…

But getting serious (and because that site doesn’t take into account the fact that I’m a sourcer) — let’s talk about what sourcing is worth. What are you, as a professional people-hunter/sourcer/search ninja actually worth?

If we knew the answer to this question, we wouldn’t be asking you, our readers. It’s a question that comes up often and almost never receives the same answer. Some people think that sourcing is only worth about $6/hr. Others command a hefty $100+/hr billing rate for sourcing projects. Regardless of how you approach this question, the answer will almost never be accurate and I believe that is because there is no cookie-cutter framework in which “sourcing” fits. For instance:

  • Some sourcers do lead generation
  • Some sourcers do lead generation + initial outreach
  • Some sourcers do lead generation + initial outreach + pre-screening
  • Some sourcers do all of the above as well as strategic initiatives, including pipeline development and employment branding projects

…yet they are all “sourcers.” To say that each of these types of individuals should be paid the same since they are all classified as “sourcer” would be as incorrect as saying a person working in sales at a retail storefront should be making the same as a person working in sales at a multi-national ERP software manufacturer, because they both carry the same title.

In my personal opinion, sourcers’ compensation should be determined based on two main items and one sub-item:

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  • Level of expertise (usually determined by years of experience, but not always)
  • Scope of function

If you want experience, you must pay for it. If you want more work to be done, you have to pay for that, too. And if you are not willing to pay for either (translated — you are looking for a “top-notch sourcer” at at $13/hr) then you will engage in a never-ending search — either because you’ll never find a sourcer willing to take your job, or you’ll end up hiring all the wrong ones.

Geography also plays a role in determining a sourcer’s compensation. Where you are in the world makes a big difference — for example, sourcers in the United States and Australia typically get paid more than sourcers in Asia. Cost of living in a given location makes a big difference in what a sourcer could/should earn.

With this in mind, I invite all of you who are sourcers to participate in our Salary Survey so we can get a snapshot of what the actual compensation of sourcers is today. Please follow this link and take a few moments to anonymously fill out the survey. Once we get a good sampling we will share this information on to give everyone a better idea of how sourcing is compensated.

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.


15 Comments on “Determining a Sourcer’s Worth

  1. Excellent article, Amybeth! Great sourcers are certainly invaluable to an organization. You also have to factor into the equation, what KIND of sourcing are they doing? Phone, internet or a combination of those. Luckily for us, we have a fantastic group of phone Sourcers on our team.

  2. So if a recruiter does their own sourcing AND deals with clients, the data issues, offers etc. maybe they should get double …. 😉

  3. Thanks, Amybeth. I think sourcers are invaluable.
    That being said- there are really two levels of sourcing:
    1) The vast majority of sourcing: phone, internet, and board sourcing- identification of active and (the majority of) passive candidates who are easily identifiable/contactable. This type of sourcing costs $6.25/hr more or less.

    2) The small but vital niche of elite sourcing: the very hard-to-find people who don’t want to- but need to be identified/contacted. This is what world-class folks like Maureen, Irina, Shally, Glenn, (and maybe Amybeth) provide, typically at $40+/name.

    There isn’t much work in between- you’re either getting over-priced $6.25/hr work, or under-quality $40+/name work (though in times like these, people have to do what they need to do to pay the bills, and there might be some sort of quality in between sourcing work I’ve never heard of).

    Happy Friday,

    Keith “Ask Me About Really Good $6.25/hr Sourcers I Use” Halperin

  4. Keith, do you live in Georgia or Wyoming? Because if you don’t live in one of those two states, then you are paying well below even the Federal minimum wage for hourly people, which is $7.25. Here in the great state of WA, our minimum wage is $8.67. Once again, I am highly insulted by your pay scale for sourcing — to say that you don’t think the work is work a minimum wage is saying that you view sourcing work as less valuable than an Wal Mart greeter, a position which pays at $7-15/hour with the average being $10.30.

    Again — insulting.

  5. In all fairness, Amybeth, the fact is that there are many Sourcers who earn very modest hourly wages. I understand if that offends the sensibilities of many in the profession, but the facts are the facts.

    The future for professionals in high-wage countries like the US relies on being able to produce better results more efficiently – essentially being able to justify those high salaries with superior results. If they cannot, then the kind of wage arbitrage that Keith always describes is inevitable.

  6. @Amybeth: I said this 11/15 on another posting-
    “It is both illegal and wrong to pay American workers less than minimum wage. The sourcers (and VAs) are not U.S.-based, so they’re not being paid less than minimum wage for where they are. Some companies do prefer to have onsite people doing the same things at the same level for 5-8 times as much money, which is their right.”

    Let me restate my subtext:
    Unless you do elite sourcing (or have some inbetween service alluded to above) American sourcers CAN NOT COMPETE on price or quality of service for the vast majority of sourcing work required by employers. If a company wants to employ locally based or remotely based Americans for non-economic reasons (“Buy American”) that’s fine, but they shouldn’t think they’re getting the best or the most affordable by doing so.



  7. @David: Thank you.
    I’m advocating we increase the number of highly-skilled, high-touch, high-value add recruiters and world-class sourcers who provide services like counseling, advising, streamlining/improving hiring practices, acting as an onsite project manager between the client and virtual resources, CLOSING, and finding/identifying the people who can’t easily be found. These are how Americans can compete, because these skills can’t be no-sourced (eliminate), through-sourced (automated) or out-sourced (sent away) for a fraction of the cost. I have said that the work recruiters and world-class sourcers should do should be paid $50+/hr, and don’t think that American businesses should be in a make-work program for large numbers of onsite $10-15/hr scheduler/coordinators, or $15-$30 hr low-level phone, internet, and board sourcers/recruiters. (The median wage for those in the recruiting industry in 2009 was $23.10/hr, and only 10% of recruiters earned more than $43.50/hr.)



  8. I think any Sourcer who is presenting technical talent who are qualified, interested and engaged warrant top dollar. However, to Keith’s point, as technology continues to advance, and when companies like Facebook decide to get serious about recruiting, there could be huge shifts that allow name generation to be more easily automated and off-shored. The true money earned will be in the engagement, the getting people interested piece. However, in this window of time where there’s so much information to sift through, the technical capability to do that efficiently is worth the money. However, that may change ….

  9. @Robert: I agree, and in most case “top dollar” is $6.25/hr. Name generation is ALREADY automated (a local Bay Area friend of mine does this and sends me results usually every day) and off-shored (that’s where these $6.25/hr people are located) Also, the technology to sift through massive amounts of information already exists. I’m waiting for datamining technology to be easy and cheap enough that any recruiter can compile a “digital dossier” from entirely public sources (BTW: Who owns a person’s biometric profile?) on anyone s/he might ever want to recruit. When you know where someone is and what they’re doing (aka: “candidate pipelines”), you don’t need to source them. The security agencies do this already; I want to as well.


    Keith “To Know Everything About Everyone” Halperin

  10. Keith, I think in your mind sourcing is simply defined as lead generation. Which it certainly can be if that’s all you need. But some companies need more involvement from sourcing than just simple lead generation, and that’s why we are running this survey — to find out what activities people with the title ‘sourcer’ are actually responsible for and how they are thus compensated. The data will speak for itself.

    Thanks as always for readily sharing your opinions!

  11. Thanks, Amybeth. I think “sourcing” is something that if you ask 20 different sourcers to define it, you’ll get 20 different answers. (Sometimes I think if you ask a sourcer 20 different times, you’ll get 20 different answers!) To me, sourcing is NOT lead generation. My $6.25/hr human sourcers provide me with resumes, and I suspect Glen Cathey’s $0.11/hr automated resume source aggregators would, too. Sometimes there is no resume- so you identify the person and get the contact information. Sometimes you actually communicate with the potential candidate and let them know about the opportunity, but that’s starting to get into candidate development/recruiting. (The people who provide the $6.25/hr sourcing also have low-level recruiters for %8.65/hr.)

    I will be very interested to see if your survey comes up with any high-quality sourcing services intermediate between $6.25 and $50+/hr or $40+/name.



  12. Hello Amybeth,

    Great post. People do need to think about the value of sourcers. Clearly, there is a range — depending on what kind of work a sourcer does. Increasingly, our recruiting research work at Intellarati is also being used to inform M&A activity, something I discuss in a recent blog post inspired by your column here.


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