Talent Acquisition 101

Sourcing vs. Recruiting: a Guide for TAs

Dec 20, 2021 - Valery Caputi Lopez

Sourcing vs. Recruiting: Not The Same

What is the difference between sourcing and recruiting? Is one better than the other, or are they both equal in value? What do you need to know about each of them as a hr professional in order to set up your strategy and workflows to succeed?

Whether you're an expert or new to the world of recruitment, it might be difficult to understand why it even matters not to use sourcing and recruiting as interchangeable terms. Due to their evolving nature in today's modern, fast-paced, and technologically-driven talent acquisition landscape, the lines between recruiters and sourcers have blurred more than ever before. But distinguishing between these key activities is imperative if you want to run a successful hiring process.

Let’s take a quick moment to define the two terms and explain their key differences and similarities.

What is Talent Sourcing?

Definition of Talent Sourcing

Talent sourcing is the process of identifying, researching, and networking with potential top talent. It’s about finding people who are good at what they do, who bring something special to your organization, and who would fit into your culture before they are converted to job applicants.

In general terms, the main job of talent sourcing is to create and maintain a steady stream of highly-skilled leads for the recruiting team. This naturally includes passive candidates, since sourcers are tasked with identifying qualified candidates who have not yet actively applied for a position within their organization.

The most successful talent sourcers have a strong understanding of their business' needs and also know how to use string searches and data mining tools to identify high-quality potential employees from the start.

Key Responsibilities of a Sourcer

  • Making first contact with potential candidates
  • Promoting the company to potential candidates as a good future employer
  • Researching where the best job candidates can be found (search engines, sourcing marketplaces, social media profiles, networking websites, etc.)
  • Helping their organization hit DEI hiring goals
  • Supplying qualified job candidates to a recruiting team 

Sourcing marketplace cta

What is Talent Recruiting?

Recruiting is the collection of activities that converts potential job candidates into hired employees, from beginning to end.

Recruiting encompasses the entire hiring process but sourcing only represents one part of it. So while recruiters may also perform sourcing duties as part of their efforts (and many do within both small and large organizations), sourcers do not engage in the later-stage recruiting tasks that recruiters typically manage.

Key Responsibilities of a Recruiter

  • Writing job descriptions
  • Posting openings on job boards
  • Screening sourced candidates
  • Reviewing applications
  • Coordinating meetings with potential candidates
  • Conducting interviews with talented individuals
  • Managing relationships with applicants
  • Making job offers to ideal candidates
  • Onboarding new recruits
  • Retaining talent within their organization

The Differences Between Sourcing and Recruiting

As you can see in the definitions above, candidate sourcing is not the same as recruiting. While sourcing entails actively hunting for suitable candidates at the beginning of a recruiting cycle, recruiting can be thought of as the subsequent process of engaging and hiring the screened candidates from that talent pool who meet preset job criteria. Sourcing can be a part of recruiting, but recruiting is not a part of sourcing.

Another difference is that a sourcing expert might choose candidates based on their qualities, strengths, and general organizational fit rather than for a specific role, like a recruiter would. Also, a dedicated sourcer will typically interact with passive candidates while recruiters concentrate their efforts on pre-vetted, already-active candidates who are ready to apply to their organization. So in short, both sourcing and recruiting work together to bring in the best talent for your organization. As soon as the sourcing role ends and fills a pool of ideal candidates, the recruitment role begins and new employees can be hired from that same pool.

Where Sourcing and Recruiting Intersect

Depending on the organization you're looking at, there can still be a significant amount of overlap when comparing recruiting and sourcing. For instance, both require identifying and screening candidates for their skills and experience and interacting with them to get valuable information. Both functions are also a critical part of any hiring strategy since the ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent can determine a company’s success or failure in both the short and long term.

Where the lines often blur has a lot to do with who is performing these jobs. A single recruiter can have both sourcing and recruiting duties in one company, while in another the work is divided up among specialists or external sourcers and recruiters who work in tandem to achieve their respective goals. So which is the better approach?

It all depends on the size of your business, your recruitment budget, and your hiring objectives.

The Benefits of Separate Talent Sourcing

If your business is small and your recruiting needs are not very time-sensitive, you may choose to have a single person or in-house team be responsible for the entire recruitment funnel. Just make sure that they won't be overwhelmed by the amount of duties they'll be taking on by trying to perform a joint sourcing and recruitment role. While it might be initially cheaper to pay less people to do the job, what you save in salary costs you may end up losing in hidden expenses down the line. A less efficient and overtaxed team will take longer to successfully hire qualified talent, leading to a higher cost-per-hire and potentially more money out of your recruiting budget than anticipated.

That's why you may choose to separate your sourcing and recruiting functions either within or outside your company. If you don't want to hire more employees or talent acquisition teams at your own organization, consider outsourcing sourcing duties to an external firm or sourcing marketplace (pssst, Brazen has one, so we’ve got you covered!). That way you can keep costs in check while securing a steady and qualified talent pipeline for your recruiters, letting them focus on what they do best; hiring and retaining top talent.

Just imagine giving your recruiting team the gift of an updated pool of talent to choose from at any given time. Not only would this be an effective way of distributing hiring duties, but the added efficiencies would also reduce your time to hire and cost per hire for your organization as a whole. As HR Daily Advisor states, "When the pipeline is already filled with screened candidates, the applicants tend to be higher quality and a better fit for a given role".

Whichever approach you choose, make sure that your tasks are optimally distributed in a way that’s the best first for your organization’s staffing goals and hiring budget. There may be some trial and error involved, so don’t be afraid to experiment until you get the balance right!

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