With more and more companies hiring sourcers as part of their recruitment teams, there’s been quite a bit of talk about the difference between recruiters and sourcers. Along with all this talk comes confusion around the responsibilities of each in the recruitment process.

The difference between recruiters and sourcers

Before we talk about the real difference between recruiters and sourcers, let’s talk about the recruitment process.

difference between recruiters and sourcers

Project/Search Kick-off – Main player: Recruiter

I like thinking of each search as a project. The recruitment life-cycle kicks-off with a recruitment intake meeting with the hiring manager to truly understand the position. The intake meeting is led by the recruiter, but could also include the sourcer.

In most cases though, the recruiter will often give the sourcer intake details to help them source the right candidates.

Candidate Sourcing – Main player: Sourcer

Whether the recruitment team is going off the intake meeting notes or creating a candidate persona, we now know what kind of candidate we’re searching for and sourcing can begin.

This portion of the process is also called name generation where passive candidates are sourced through various sourcing techniques like X-Ray searches, Boolean searching, etc. Some sourcers end their involvement at name generation. These days, however, most move to the next step.

Candidate Screening – Main player: Sourcer

Need a phone interview template?Candidate engagement starts at this point where sourcers qualify the candidate through a short phone screen/interview.

The sourcer confirms details like salary expectations, technical qualifications, etc. and hands over the rest of the candidate relationship to the recruiter who takes it from there.

Interviews – Main player: Recruiter

The relationship with hiring manager is always managed by the recruiter. Some sourcers will join meetings with the hiring manager, but this isn’t common.

Armed with the sourcer’s phone screen details, the recruiter would then present the candidates to the hiring manager and from this step on, the relationship with the candidate is managed by the recruiter.

Depending on the company, the hiring manager either interviews the candidate on their own or with the recruiter.

Candidate Closing – Main player: Recruiter

This is where most skilled recruiters shine! They facilitate the job offer process and manages negotiations with both the candidate and the hiring manager.

Once the candidate is hired, they move into the onboarding stage, which is usually managed by the others in HR or Learning and Development.

Sourcers attract and engage passive candidates

Sourcers attract hard-to-find passive candidates and initiate the relationship with them. In today’s market where there is clearly a war for talent, sourcing is clearly instrumental to shortening the recruitment process and finding candidates who wouldn’t have seen your posting.

Sourcing passive candidates allows you to reach a much larger candidate pool.

Recruiters manage the relationship and the recruitment process

Essentially, recruiters manage every step after candidate presentation ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

They also manage administrative duties, like assisting with creating the job description (ideally a kick-ass job description), ensuring the job is posted in the right places (company website, LinkedIn and other job boards), coordinating interviews, conducting background checks and drafting the offer.

With all this focus on passive candidate sourcing, you’re probably wondering what happens to active candidates – those candidates who have applied to the job posting.

The recruiter manages the relationship with them. They review resumes in their ATS that came through their job posting, screen those candidates (the right way) and move them along to the interview stage along with the passive candidates who the sourcer presented.

This relationship between the sourcer and recruiter is one of the most important ones in the process

The difference between recruiters and sourcers is that recruiters are essentially recruitment project managers while the sourcers identify and qualify passive candidates.

The two seriously have to work well together and have to be in constant communication.

When I talked about how to implement Agile Recruiting, collaboration was key to its success. Continuous engagement with the hiring manager is also important.

If you recall, I also recommended presenting potential profiles to the hiring manager before going through the entire sourcing process, just to ensure you’re on the right track.

It’s at this point that the sourcer can share a few profiles with the recruiter who can then verify if they’re on the right track with the hiring manager and share that feedback with the sourcer. It should run like a well-oiled machine.

The sourcer and recruiter often work together on several seraches/requisitions so they naturally get to know each other’s styles and build a relationship that works for them.

Here’s why people wrongly refer to sourcers and recruiters interchangeably

In most corporate recruitment environments, the recruiter’s job includes sourcing, which is why it’s nearly impossible to manage a high req load and source passive candidates.

We’ll save this for another day though… it deserves a post of it’s own.

This is also the case with boutique recruitment agencies where a recruiter who does business development, also sources passive candidates and manages relationships with the client and candidate. This is called a 360 desk.

Having a sourcer as part of the team means a more efficient recruitment process

I absolutely love seeing forward-thinking companies focus on ensuring better candidate experience, improved hiring manager collaboration, shorter time-to-fill and higher quality of hire.

Those are the companies that  are realizing that they have to separate the work of a recruiter and sourcer and have an excellent recruitment process as a result!

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