Although I defended and deployed a “sourcer + recruiter” model, and in fact I do recognize the value of an independent sourcing role, I’m not dogmatic and believe each organization must find the best way to have their recruitment teams performing their best. It depends on the type of recruited profiles, industry, team size, who engages with clients and other variables.
On this post I’ll share my experience and leave my take on the ancient "sourcer and recruiter" war.
IT staffing business is tough. It’s subject to a fierce and ever growing competition, Clients demand fast and suitable responses, Candidates are extremely volatile, and Consultants can easily churn.
A lot of times business lacks enough candidates to deal with increasing Client demand and Candidate “reuse” (resends and parallelization) won’t be the answer. Frustration settles in. Recruiters aren’t reaching enough candidates or fast enough and Managers aren’t able to deliver the proper response to their clients.
It will be easy to point fingers. Managers complaining about the lack of options for their clients thus losing business opportunities and Recruiters complaining about the long decision time thus losing candidates.
It’s not enough to be better, it’s mandatory to be faster.
Splitting the recruitment team into two separate roles, Sourcer and Recruiter, might just give a good kick.
Each role doesn’t work without the other, each has its own specific challenges and opens new perspectives and growth dimensions that weren’t available before.
Let’s dig into the roles.
- Sourcer – Searches and attracts potential candidates. Communicates and sells the company. Knows and maps the market (candidates, companies, projects).
- Recruiter – Identifies the best candidate for a specific role or mission. Finds the best mission for the candidate. Knows and sells the candidate and the mission.
Common tools and activities
Attract & Mapping
Community (1 to Many)
Social media, fairs and other events, thought leadership, search, map, call, branding
Active (or Activated)
Personalized (1 to 1)
Company / Client
Job applications, interview, ATS, tracking, assessment, screen, select, hire
It’s easy to consider Recruiter as the next step for a Sourcer, but these two roles might require people with different profile, motivation and career paths (past or future). So it’s not fair to consider that one precedes the other. I can picture a Sourcer with 5+ years of experience as someone who can excel at knowing the best technics to zoom in the best candidates, how to get their attention and having major impact on a company’s talent acquisition chain.
What it takes to be a Sourcer
- Communication skills and conformable engaging with people (whatever the channel)
- Like and feel comfortable having phone conversations (having a good voice might be a plus)
- Research scientist skills (to investigate, search for information, follow leads and connect dots)
- Social media savvy (and why not, also marketing)
- Advanced level of Boolean (or other) search technics
- Willing to get outside, showcase the company and find candidates where it takes (job fairs, industry events or anywhere else)
What it takes to be a Recruiter
- Sales skills and capable to pitch and inspire
- Like and feel comfortable with people (get to know and understand them)
- Ability to establish rapport a deep conversations
- Ability to read people and formulate accurate assessment
- Great at note taking (or good memory to do it later after the interview).
- Good memory to remember candidates (and open positions) on the fly
The importance of the Head of Research
In this ecosystem, one third role will be very relevant. The Head of Research, not only will have to deal with the usual activities, such as overall management, being a reference, build and grow the team, promote new/best practices, but also with:
- Assure that sourcer effort is aligned with business and recruiter needs
- Lead “scrum-like” meetings to promote candidate and information sharing
- Direct recruiter effort towards sourcers or vice-versa
- Manage potential rotation between roles
- Act as sourcer or recruiter when necessary
Note that even for some of the “usual activities” the Head of Research will sometimes have the need to use “double lens” glasses to tackle with two different requirement subsets.
Issues and difficulties
Just like any other change, there might be some suspicion or resistance towards change.
To minimize it, during design phase, key people must take part in the process. This allows to identify pain points early in the process and take action.
Commissions are very sensitive subject and whenever something threats to change it, it’s time to take action. The incentive model had to be adapted and a “sharing” model will do the trick to make sure both roles work together and towards the same goal.
Immediately after incentives comes second major issue - candidate “ownership”. You don’t want to mess around with a recruiter’s candidate. So fine-tune ownership with simple ground rules between Recruiters and Sourcers. Make it clear and fair.
Sourcer role could be considered subordinate of the recruiter role or a professional might feel her/his role is getting trimmed down. Never let this happen, ever. Both roles, their characteristics, activities, potential path had to be thoroughly explained. With two new separate paths, either role gains a wider range of technics and knowledge that couldn’t be explored before since everyone had to do everything.
One thing is hiring someone for an active team, something completely different is to split a team into two roles. To have everyone comfortable in the new “skin” assess individual profile together with and personal desire and taken both into consideration. On top of this establish an “open-seat” policy so a recruiter could swap role with a fellow sourcer, or vice-versa, in a controlled way.
This change introduces a new role and with it a new link in the chain that could lead to information loss or misinformation in the “Client-Manager-Candidate” channel. There are some ways to minimize this:
- Recruiters must work close to Hiring Managers
- If possible define a scheme to rotate recruiters across all Hiring Managers
- Have regular “scrum-like” meetings for a more structured sharing between everyone
What to expect
There is no unique recipe. Any organization that decides to implement a model like this will have its own journey and result.
In our case, after model design, refinement and fixing loose ends, the team quickly got the hang of it, everyone naturally was fitted in the new position and new team members were already hired to the new model.
Results began to pop short after 4 weeks with positive impact in the business. After 12 months we’ve experienced over 35% increase on the number of candidate submittals and 34% increase on the number of placements.
This new model can also bring other positive outcomes:
- Better alignment of all the team with the strategy in place
- New career opportunities for the recruitment team
- Closer proximity between recruitment team and business units
- Explore new activities and technics that weren’t explored before due to lack of focus
- …and the possibility for recruitment teams to reach new excellence stages
What are your thoughts? Have you experienced a similar process? What would you do different?