Why Sourcers are… not baby Recruiters!

While at my first SourceCon last year, they were pleased to announce that the role of the Sourcer has become a truly recognised profession. While the professionalisation of sourcing is something that some people have worked years towards, I really believe that most Recruiters are wrong when they think the role of a Sourcer is and it feels like someone needs to hash out exactly what sourcing is in this day and age.

I have been thinking on how to tackle this image problem of a Sourcer for a while and I thought it would be fun to start writing a series of posts titled Why Sourcers are..

This series of posts is not meant to light the flame war of Recruiter vs Sourcer, at the end of the day, we all do the same job, we all hire people. I just have a more specific role in the process than a full cycle Recruiter. This should come as no surprise to you, most large companies have sourcing teams now. While the role of this team varies from org to org, every Sourcer (myself included) is a specialist at attracting and engaging candidates. That’s the beauty of being a Sourcer, that’s the bit I’m good at.

The image that a lot of people have, in and out of the sourcing world is

Why Sourcers are… not baby Recruiters!


The story goes a little something like this;

Stressed Recruiter, “I need a junior Sourcer to help me find more candidates on a daily basis so I can get these job’s filled.”

This is a story I have heard from many people in leadership roles in recruitment. Recruiters don’t feel they have time to source, to engage the right people. This often comes from someone who is managing a large volume of roles and hiring manager relationships.

Sorry dearest Recruiter, you got it wrong! No decent Sourcer, junior or not wants to sit in a corner, without a relationship with hiring managers or the full control of a candidate and do all the heavy lifting while you sit back and screen applications. A Sourcer that is just handing candidates with only your understanding of a role is not really sourcing, they are a mini Recruiter that is not trusted to have relationships with hiring managers or close down a candidate when it comes to the end of the process.

Recruiters that think like this don’t understand the real problems they are facing and think that by just throwing more people time at their workload they will make more hires.



Every Sourcer and recruitment manager know’s this problem. Want to know what is really happening here?

The Recruiter has too much work!

I often see Recruiters who have too many roles asking for sourcing support.  I don’t believe that Recruiters working 20+ jobs can provide an effective service on any of them. If you can’t find time to source for your jobs then you have too many. The Recruiter is becoming blinded by the volume of people they need to deal with and are not able to manage their time effectively.

Why do I think this?Screen Shot 2017-02-05 at 12.06.47 PM.png

Just by using Glen Cathy’s funnel calculator and plugging in some reasonably standard numbers you can see that to get to those 20 hires the Recruiter needs to submit 143 candidates to hiring manager review. That’s 2.24 CV’s qualified and sent to a hiring manager every working day. This is a broad brush stroke, I know Recruiters that are very effective that are able to work at this cadence. However, if you are not top 5% Recruiter, this is a lot of conversations to be having every day. Throw some meetings into that working week and you have a very stressed Recruiter who feels that a junior Sourcer to do that heavy lifting and give themselves some more breathing space.

My solution 

Recruiters need to understand the volume of work for they need to do for each role and need to be able to push back on their manager and hiring managers that they can’t be effective at this volume.

Recruitment Managers need to know these figures as well and understand when they are working on headcount plans how much time and how many Recruiters they will need to effectively reach their companies hiring targets.

The Recruiter isn’t using the right tools

Everyone thinks that sourcing takes a lot of time. Going through hundreds of CV’s in online databases and through your own ATS can be time-consuming but if you are spending hours doing it. You are probably doing it wrong.

In today’s recruitment world we have a plethora of tools to help us work more effectively. I notice a lot of Recruiters not using them at all, let alone effectively. Sourcer’s are naturally the more geeky end of Recruiters and are experts in these tools. From an ATS to a bot. I don’t expect all Recruiters to be like this, however, a Recruiter needs to make sure they are using every tool they have at their fingertips.

My solution 

Sorry dearest Recruiter, you need a re-train.

No need for a baby Sourcer, just three days sourcing with me and you will never look at sourcing again in the same way. You won’t need help, your life will be easier and you will become a better Recruiter.


The Recruiter doesn’t get enough qualified applicants

I notice a lot of Recruiters that think that a Sourcer will provide them with the more qualified leads, with more people that want to do their jobs. I think this is wrong.

I believe that 80% of all roles should be filled from applications!

YES, A Sourcer that believes job ads get the best and most candidates. When I say 80% applications, I mean 80% of hires are made from inbound interest, this includes referred candidates and internal applicants.

That means that a good Recruiter only needs to source for a few of their roles and with some smart prioritisation and planning can ensure that they understand where their effort needs to be spent.

My Solution

You need to understand your inbound pipeline for each role. You need to optimise your job ads and work with your employer brand teams and hiring managers to attract the right type of candidates.


So, Why is a Sourcer not a Baby Recruiter?

Don’t get me wrong, I do sit in a corner and build target lists. I do spend hours hunting for the right candidates for hard to fill roles.

I however fundamentally believe that a Sourcer can’t be a person that does what a Recruiter tells them too.

A Sourcer should be a partner to the Recruiter and to the business.

A Sourcer should provide a level of insight that a Recruiter can’t achieve. They should provide data, market intelligence, insight and understanding that a Recruiter can’t get.

No Recruiter can train a junior on how to think like that unless they themselves are doing that and there are very few Recruiters I have met that do this.

So no dear Recruiter, you can’t have a baby Sourcer to fill your pipeline because that is not what real Sourcers are. That’s researchers or a junior Recruiter.

My role at Indeed as a Sourcer, solely supporting 6 markets and 18+ Recruiters has taught me that to be more scaleable I need to provide more strategic assistance to my recruiting team. Without massaging my own ego too much; I am the secret weapon that provides a level of insight beyond what most Recruiters are able to. I am the geek that gets to test things so that I can help my Recruiters get better. I am the person that teaches Recruiters the cool tricks they need to know.

Sourcer’s are not babies but specialists in how to attract and engage people.





4 thoughts on “Why Sourcers are… not baby Recruiters!

  1. Bravo. Bravo, Tris! These are my sentiments exactly and it’s about time we brought more attention to this topic. You are 1000% accurate that Sourcers, or should we say effective Sourcers, should provide a level of strategic insight to Recruiters. The challenge has long been that we have lots of tactical recruitment taking place, but very little strategic recruitment. As you so eloquently stated, providing “data, market intelligence, insight and understanding” is fundamentally what makes strategic recruitment possible. Too often Recruiters are like rudderless ships being tossed at sea, because of this gap in understanding. It also should be said that we do not serve our clients (hiring managers) well when Recruiters operate as “Order Takers” instead of Consultants. We are to advise our clients, provide them with data/analysis to inform their decision-making, and avoid over promising.

    My expertise is in high volume recruitment and I am baffled as to how many recruiters aren’t aware of their own delivery capabilities. Recruiters should know precisely how many requisitions they’re capable of managing without a decrease in performance. Retraining is highly recommended. Glen Cathey’s funnel calculator is very similar to what I developed for my team and I encourage others to use this type of tool. It allows my team to be more proactive, predictive and consultative.

    Alignment between Sourcer and Recruiter would benefit all stakeholders involved, increase efficiency and performance, decrease cost-per-hire, decrease time-to-fill, increase hiring manager satisfaction, increase quality-of-hire and more. Our success depends on this! Thank you much for writing such a passionate and thoughtful article. I look forward to continuing this dialogue! – James


    1. James. So happy to have struck a chord. Your comment strikes a chord with me too. Let us no longer recruit like rudderless ships but steer a true course and sail the seas in a more effective and efficient manner. Let’s get to the end of the of our journeys together, on time and happy. Weather these winds, storms or breezes, when the crew all pulls together we get home safe.


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