The evolution of recruiting has changed significantly over the last few decades. What started out as the responsibility of office managers to place job advertisements in newspapers or help wanted signs to attract potential employees, has now grown into a multi- billion dollar industry, where the identification of talent requires internal corporate recruitment departments or employment agencies solely focused on this transaction through both proactive and reactive recruiting techniques.
Today the actual act of identifying candidates has even been split into dedicated roles and job functions, whereas historically sourcing was the sole and inclusive responsibility of the recruiter along with other job responsibilities (examples):
A third-party recruitment agency or corporate recruiting department can now be made up of individuals dedicated to just the sourcing of candidates while recruiters can either focus on more account management responsibilities or leverage sourcing experts to supplement an additional volume of potential candidates. An increasing number of agencies and corporate recruiting departments outsource this work to a Recruitment Process Outsourcing vendor.
The actual act of sourcing for candidates is performed by either a recruiter (be it an internal corporate recruiter or agency recruiter) or a dedicated recruiter just focused on the sourcing function. The definition of sourcing needs to be clearly defined by what it is, as much as what it is not. Candidate sourcing activity typically ends once the name, job title, job function and contact information for the potential candidate is determined by the candidate sourcer. To further develop a list of names that were sourced some companies have a second person then reach out to the names on the list to initiate a dialogue with them with the intention of pre-screening the candidate against the job requirements and guaging the interest level in hearing about new job opportunitites. This activity is called "candidate profiling" or "candidate pre-screening". The term candidate sourcing should not be confused with candidate research.
In some situations a person that "sources" candidates can and will perform both 'primary' and 'secondary' sourcing techniques to identify candidates as well as the candidate profiling to further pre-screen candidates but there is a growing market for experts solely focused on "phone sourcing", "internet sourcing/researching" and candidate profiling. The actual act to source candidates can usually be split out into two clearly defined techniques; primary sourcing and secondary sourcing.
The term "phone sourcers" or "Phone Name Generator" generally applies to the utilization of primary sourcing techniques.
The term "internet sourcer", "Internet Name Generator" or "internet researcher" generally applies to the use of secondary sourcing techniques
Sourcing for candidates refers to proactively identifying people who are either a) not actively looking for job opportunities (passive candidates) or b) candidates who are actively searching for job opportunities (active candidates), though the industry also recognizes the existence of 'active candidate sourcing' using candidate databases, job boards and the like.
Though there has been much debate within the staffing community as to how to accurately define an "active candidate" versus a "passive candidate" typically either term is irrelevent to a candidate sourcer as the status of any particular candidate can change from moment to moment or with a simple phone call from a recruiter that happenes to present a job opportunity that is perceived to be either better or worse than the job the person has now. The status of being an "active" or "passive" candidate is fluid and changing depending on the circumstances and position being offered.
Several recruiters can rely on the same sourcer to generate leads and fill the pipeline with pre-screened or pre-qualified candidates. Sourcers are often the initial point of contact with a candidate, qualifying whether they are a real job seeker or just a job shopper. As a result, sourcers are uniquely positioned to sell or “pre-close” candidates before the candidates enter the recruitment process.
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