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November 22, 2019 9:25 AM

Sourcing Vs. Recruiting - There is a Difference!

To the uninitiated, sourcing and recruiting may seem like one and the same thing. In fact, to many seasoned professionals in the industry the difference between both is a somewhat foggy area. This is understandable as both tasks are quite often carried out by the same person or, at the very least, colleagues on the same team.  

But as you may have guessed from the title of this post, there is indeed a difference between the two. Actually, there are quite a few differences and understanding what they are could have a positive impact on the efficiency of your team members. Most significantly though, it could affect your overall efforts to recruit successfully.  

What is sourcing?

Sourcing is the process of finding suitable candidates for a role. Of course, the role doesn’t have to be available or even exist while the sourcing is being carried out which is why sourcers most often seek passive candidates. 

What is recruiting?

We all know what recruiters do but what is recruiting defined as? Well, in short it’s the process of attracting, screening, and interviewing candidates for a role within an organisation.

Now that we’ve cleared all that up, let’s take a look at the key responsibilities of both a sourcer and recruiter – this is where it gets interesting.

The key responsibilities of a sourcer

And if we’re honest, those are just the key responsibilities. A good sourcing consultant will have a million and one other small tasks to add to this list.

Now, what about a recruiter?

Key responsibilities of a recruiter

  • Screening sourced candidates
  • Arranging interview times
  • Liaising with the hiring manager
  • Communicating job details to potential candidates
  • Carrying out negotiations (talking about salary, benefits, etc.)
  • Nurturing candidates in the pipeline
  • Managing CRM and ATS software
  • Posting jobs on boards
  • Publishing ads on social media
  • Creating employer brand-focused content

And as with the sourcer, these are just the key responsibilities.

Where the two meet

If you have spent any time at all working in the recruitment industry, then there’s a strong possibility that you have carried out most or even all of the tasks listed above.

The fact is that regardless of your official title as recruiter or sourcer, there is often an overlap between the two roles. And as we said earlier, this is where the distinction between the two can get a little foggy.

However, it’s more often the recruiter that will carry out a sourcer’s duties than vice versa. This is because many organisations assume that sourcing is an integral part of a recruiter’s role. And so, with this in mind, they are often reluctant to hire a person to fill a role that they feel is unnecessary.

This is most common in smaller companies where there may be very little budget set aside for recruitment. But in larger organisations, it’s essential that the two roles are clearly defined with both the sourcer and recruiter carrying out their own duties and their own duties alone.

And why is this? We’re glad you asked.

The 3 main benefits of separating sourcing and recruiting

1 - It’s more efficient

Imagine a situation where you have a recruiter or a small recruitment team tasked with carrying out every single one of the key responsibilities listed above. We know, it’s easy to imagine because that’s a reality for many recruiters.

As you can guess, overloading a team with work can play havoc on the efficiency of everyone involved. As a result, jobs are left undone or worse, they’re done poorly.

But when roles are clearly defined, both sourcer and recruiter can work more efficiently and carry out their respective roles to a higher standard.

Take our work here at vsource for example. When a client comes to us, it’s often because their team is overworked or they lack the required skills to source suitable candidates. We take over the sourcing tasks and allow them more time to focus on the things that they do best. Efficiency reigns and the team starts to hit their targets with greater ease. But most importantly, the right candidates enter the pipeline.

2 - It’s cost-effective

Believe it or not, while a recruiter carrying out every task in the recruitment spectrum allows an employer to cut down on additional salary costs, the lack of efficiency we just mentioned can have a negative impact on the overall cost of recruitment.

This is because a less efficient team means a longer time to hire and as we all know, a longer time to hire leads to an increase in the cost per hire.

According to SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost per hire in the US already stands at $4,129. And for management and c-level positions, the cost will be significantly more.

However, a dedicated sourcing professional on the team can help reduce that cost by ensuring that there is a ready-made candidate pipeline filled with suitable talent. This helps to accelerate time to hire which in turn reduces costs. As an example, one of our clients had more than 700,000 profiles provided for their pipeline and saved over 87,000 hours of their recruiters’ time in the process.

It also means that only qualified candidates make it anywhere near the interview stage of the recruitment funnel. And that brings us to our final benefit.

3 - It gets better results

A recruiter’s to-do list is never-ending. So like a true professional, they will prioritise some tasks over others. Interviewing, engaging with candidates, and administration tasks simply cannot be left undone. Sourcing passive candidates to fill a pipeline, on the other hand, isn’t quite so critical or time-sensitive and is often the task that is bumped down the list.

When this happens, the majority of applicants for a vacant position will have to come in through jobs boards and ads resulting in fewer passive candidates. And as we have discussed before, passive candidates are often where you’ll find the best talent.

This is why a dedicated sourcer or a contracted sourcing consultant is worth their weight in gold. Not only do they ensure that the recruiter has immediate access to high-quality candidates but as the company draws from the pipeline, they continue to replenish the pool with more talent. And for a busy recruiter, instant access to pre-qualified candidates is something akin to recruitment paradise.

As you can see, it pays dividends to not only separate both recruiting and sourcing tasks but to have people who know what they’re doing (and are good at it) carrying them out. Reduced time to hire, cost-effective, and better quality candidates – need we say more?


If sourcing is taking up too much of your team’s time and you’d like them to taste a slice of that recruitment paradise, then we’d like to help. Our sourcing consultants live to hunt talent, and with our innovative tech to back them up, they’re the best at what they do.

Want to know more? Book a free no obligation demo today and we’ll show you how it’s done.


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