By Bryan Chaney
The line between sourcing and recruiting has become increasingly blurred. Where does one process stop and the other begin? I’ve worked for organizations that have separated the function into completely different teams. The line was the point of application. Everything before it belonged to the sourcers. Everything after, the recruiters owned. But more and more recruiters are being tasked with candidate research.
With the adoption of social recruiting and its brand exposure, the impact of sourcing on talent acquisition has been thrust into the spotlight. And to understand where we’re going, we need to understand our past.
First, we’ll hop in the way-back machine, to look at the “old school” version of sourcing and candidate research. Since I’ve only been in the recruiting field for 9 years, I didn‘t experience the “big binders full of candidates” era.
Let’s take SHRM’s definition of talent sourcing as a starting point: “Sourcing is the proactive searching for qualified job candidates for current or planned open positions.”
I‘ve always associated sourcing with lead generation. It’s prospecting for companies and/or people that fit targeted qualifications. In the world of sales, it would be companies with specific products, or a particular number of employees. Many times but not always, with operations in targeted geographies. The sales person had to manage the process from start to finish. Very similar to sales, the recruiter would manage the entire process, or full life-cycle recruiting.
Within the last few years, market and business development roles have separated from the typical sales role. It’s the difference between inbound and outbound sales calls, and takes a very different approach as well as alternate personality characteristics of the people doing the work. Some call it the separation between hunting and farming tactics, because it takes more curiosity and initiative to stalk your “prey.” I’m sure we’re all comfortable with that analogy like we‘re comfy with a restraining order.
Previously, lead generation or lead sourcing job titles were listed as “Inside Sales” or something similar, because these people were rarely, if ever seen face-to-face by the company’s prospects and clients. Cue the stereotype of sourcers as low-level recruiters.
As the spread of information and contact details increased and sales cycles got more complex, the need for a specialized business development approach was needed. Binders and Rolodex spinners gave way to Excel spreadsheets, which gave way to corporate databases. Ultimately, the data found its way into more user-friendly CRMs or Customer Relationship Management systems. The same is true of the divergence between recruiting and sourcing.
“It is not the reactive function of reviewing resumes and applications sent to the company in response to a job posting or pre-screening candidates.”
A recruiter’s job used to be the management of inbound candidates. Whether it was office or retail foot traffic, mailed resumes, or (gasp) faxed resumes and cover letters. The reason? Research was easier. Job requirements were simpler. Personalities were very different for successful sourcing than they were for engagement and assessment.
Then we got fancy. Our targets got more refined and niche candidate generation started becoming the name of the game. Researchers scoured printed lists and telephone directories, looking for the right contacts to hand over, for the recruiters to contact.
“The goal of sourcing is to collect relevant data about qualified candidates, such as names, titles and job responsibilities.”
Over the last 20 years, we’ve been inundated with sources of online information. At first it was simple to search, but with burgeoning data, comes the need for more complex searching skills. More sophisticated search skills, means a more sophisticated sourcer.
Next up, part 2. Sourcing: What It Is
About Bryan Chaney: Bryan Chaney is a Talent Branding and Attraction Strategist. He most recently led employment branding and social media for corporate recruitment at Aon. Previously, he developed the recruitment marketing arm of a Texas based RPO provider that serves SMB and Fortune clients. He serves on the board of Social Media Breakfast in Austin and founded careerconnects.org, a community event platform, to gather niche recruiting and HR professionals with candidates to share career strategies. The Huffington Post recently named him one of the Top 100 Most Social HR Experts on Twitter. Connect with Bryan for consulting and speaking availability at Bryan Chaney.