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What Are The Key Differences Between Sourcing & Recruiting?

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale January 13, 2023
what are the key differences between sourcing and recruiting

Whether you are a large, multinational business with a full recruitment department, or a smaller business that has only one person dealing with the whole recruitment process, getting the right people into the right roles at the right time is an essential part of the system.

In essence, sourcing and recruiting are very similar - in fact, many companies use one person or one department to do both tasks. Understanding the difference between the two can help make sure that hiring the best people for a job is more streamlined and straightforward.

There is a difference between sourcing and recruiting - and in this article, we will look at what each is, how they are similar, and how they are different.

What is sourcing?

what are the key differences between sourcing and recruiting

Sourcing is the earliest part of the recruitment process, which focuses the search on passive candidates, creating interest in an open position and creating a steady stream of applicants through identification, researching, and networking.

A sourcer is looking for potential candidates, who might not even be openly looking for work. These passive candidates are recognized through their social media, their LinkedIn profile, or by Googling resumes, for example.

Sourcing a candidate that has the right fit for the culture and the business could be considered a major part of the sourcer role, as they may be looking to create a candidate pool of qualified candidates, even if a role does not actually exist at the moment.

A sourcer needs to be able to develop a strong understanding of the needs of the business, so that they can look for passive candidates that match what the business requires. This includes finding the right match for the values of the business, and the candidates that will work as part of the office culture.

Sourcers usually work alongside recruiters, or as part of the recruitment team. The focus of the sourcer is to find high-quality and highly skilled leads that the recruiters can contact and follow up on.

The main tasks of someone that is completing a sourcing role include:

  • Finding passive candidates - social media, LinkedIn etc

  • Creating interest in a role

  • Driving interested talent to the company

  • Initial engagement of potential candidates

  • Using industry-related groups for networking

  • Searching job boards, especially niche or specialist ones.

All these actions are specifically to find the most highly qualified, talented, and quality candidates for the business, especially for future roles.

What is recruiting?

A recruiter might use sourcing as part of their process. However, in a business where the roles are separate, the recruiter usually takes over the process when the sourcer has created a pool of interesting and interested candidates.

The recruiter is all about working with applicants who are engaged, helping them to want to be part of the business. Recruitment is the end-to-end process of acquiring a new employee; from screening and evaluating resumes and application form, to administering pre-employment assessments and conducting interviews.

Recruiters are looking for people to fill a specific role and they are working with candidates who are already active in the process.

Where the sourcer will have generated detailed lists of possible candidates, the recruiter will usually be responsible for reaching out and supporting the applicant through the rest of the recruitment process.

The main tasks of the recruiter include:

  • Reading resumes and screening application forms.

  • Administration of pre-employment aptitude testing.

  • Evaluation of results of tests

  • Phone, video, and in-person interviews

  • Negotiating salaries

  • Onboarding

  • Managing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

In this way, the recruitment part of the process might be considered more hands-on and involved than the sourcing part.

Similarities between sourcing and recruiting

Most businesses will not understand that sourcers and recruiters are separate, because there are so many similarities - especially when it comes to making sure that the right people are being hired for the role.

Sourcing is the beginning of a recruitment funnel, finding people who would be a great fit for the role, as well as those who would be a great fit for the office, the company, and the business as a whole. This creates a large pool of pre-qualified candidates, which the recruiter can then contact and nurture.

The responsibilities of the sourcer and the recruiter often overlap, even with separation (either implied or overt).

Key differences between sourcing and recruiting

key differences between sourcing and recruiting

There are several differences between sourcing and recruiting. The recruitment process has several stages, and for the best chance of success, they all need to be completed as fully as possible.

The difference between sourcing and recruiting in these distinctions is mainly about the way the candidates are selected and communicated with.

Sourcing, as the earliest part of the process, is all about finding people - even those who may not be actively looking for a new role - that have the potential to be perfect for the business. This is a combination of really understanding the needs of the company, the values that make the office dynamics and the culture work, and the skills and aptitudes that are necessary - and finding people who match that in various places.

However, and this is a key difference, there is no real nurturing that the sourcer is doing. They are essentially creating a master list of potential candidates that could be suitable, even for roles that do not exist yet or are currently filled.

The recruiter, then, has the task of using that long list of potentials to fill open positions. The recruiter will create job posts, understanding what each role needs in terms of skills, education, and experience.

They will then communicate with the potential candidates, nurturing them through the recruitment process, using Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) and other software to keep track of where each candidate is in the system.

The two roles are entirely complimentary - and the best recruitment processes utilize both to find the right candidates for the right role at the right time.

How to combine sourcing and recruiting

There are several ways that a business can combine sourcing and recruiting.

One of the simplest is to have the recruiter deal with both sourcing and recruiting as part of their role. This is most effective in small businesses that do not have many positions to recruit for, and limited staff turnover - it can be overwhelming for one person to have to deal with all that by themselves in a busy larger company.

For a big business, sourcing can be outsourced to a specialist, perhaps a consultant or a specialized company. However, to ensure that everything works in a streamlined manner, having all the recruitment processes and procedures in one place within the same team is important.

Recruitment should have a part of the team that is focused on sourcing, networking and searching for passive candidates who can offer the skills and aptitudes that will benefit the business.

Using the right applicant sourcing software that can filter through all these similarly qualified candidates can help, as can making use of pre-employment assessments and focused interviews.

Combining the sourcing and recruiting parts of the process will help make finding the right person simple and straightforward.

Nikki Dale
Nikki Dale January 13, 2023

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