Understand the differences between a sourcer and a recruiter in the talent acquisition process and their responsibilities in finding the right employees for a software development team. Get insights into the recruitment process and the role of a hiring manager.
A sourcer, a recruiter, and a sourcing recruiter. How do they search for talent?
Business is driven by talent. The ability to identify and attract qualified employees is a must-have feature for a company that wants to grow. Key roles involved in a hunt for the right hire are that of a sourcer and a recruiter.
Recruitment plays a critical role in business performance and development. To stay competitive, companies need to effectively identify and attract top talent. It is especially evident in the IT industry dealing with the shortage of skilled workers. Experienced specialists are constantly in high demand in the tech sector, and they're often tempted to switch jobs. The ability to recruit the right employees and keep them on board is one of the key factors determining a company's success. But recruitment itself is a complex process spanning several types of activity and professional roles, such as that of a recruiter, sourcer, headhunter, and hiring manager.
Recruitment vs. talent acquisition – what's the difference?
Let's start with clarifying basic notions. Recruitment is often confused with talent acquisition. The latter is a broader term referring to a long-term strategy of finding specialists, frequently for senior positions in a company. On the other hand, recruitment is a "tactical" process of seeking and hiring competent workers according to the current demand. In other words, recruitment is an action taken in response to an immediate problem, while talent acquisition is a "grand HR plan" rather than filling vacancies.
This distinction shouldn't be dismissed as corporate jargon. It stems from the fact that "hunting" for specialists has become an elaborate process engaging a group of experts with varying responsibilities. And here, things get even messier. There are many roles in HR and names to describe them. Nomenclature and policies differ across companies. However, the core recruitment process is usually divided between a sourcer and a recruiter.
Responsibilities of a sourcer: name generation and driving talent to a company
As the name suggests, a sourcer (AKA talent sourcer) is a person responsible for sourcing candidates. Such a definition is hardly specific. The actual responsibilities of a sourcer might overlap with those of a recruiter. Typically though, the former "paves the way" for the latter. A sourcer fills the top of the recruitment funnel for a particular position. They provide the recruiter with names selected from a pool of potential candidates, hence the process is often called "name generation."
What's important to note is that a sourcer doesn't just sift through the list of applications. They actively seek talent by doing research, data mining, creating interest, networking, inspecting industry-related groups on social media, investigating profiles, messaging, sending emails, and making calls. The goal is to identify candidates whose qualifications align with the job requirements and turn them into prospects.
The scope of the sourcer's role may differ based on the recruitment model adopted by the organization. For example, they might be invited to participate in intake meetings – kick-off sessions commencing the hiring procedure. At this stage, HR management discusses job requirements, sets recruitment goals, drafts a profile of an ideal candidate, determines a salary range, considers sourcing strategies, and fine-tunes the hiring process. Experienced sourcers are often assigned to prioritize candidates and suggest the best options to consider.From then on, things are handled by a recruiter.
Responsibilities of a recruiter: candidate screening and assessment
Again, the role of a recruiter may span somewhat different responsibilities in different companies. In smaller firms, it often involves sourcing candidates. However, within more specialized HR teams, a recruiter usually takes over from a sourcer and continues with the recruitment process. Their main job is to guide candidates through assessment procedures and discuss employment terms, including remuneration. It's worth noting that the recruiter's workload often depends on the efficiency of sourcing. With a carefully selected list of candidates, it's easier to find the right one.
Nevertheless, the recruitment process itself is time-consuming and, with a high volume of applicants, it can be challenging. It involves resume and, optionally, portfolio reviews, skills testing, social media screening, phone, and video interviews, and sometimes trial work assignments. A recruiter must have an eye for detail to carefully assess candidates' skills and limitations and their general suitability for the role. They also must have an in-depth understanding of the company's culture and business goals to be sure the candidate will make the right fit.
While a recruiter's role is that of a process manager, decision-making falls to a hiring manager. The latter is the owner of a recruitment process and has a final say about a candidate. It is a "power" that entails responsibility. If a hire turns out to be a failure, it's up to the manager to figure out what went wrong and deal with the consequences.
However, some of the burdens are shared by a recruiter who is tasked with assembling a solid pool of candidates and performing an accurate evaluation. A recruiter's role may include helping a hiring manager with interviews and assessing applicants. Sometimes, recruiters are also engaged in an onboarding process, i.e., converting candidates into employees and integrating them with a company.
Can a recruiter also be a sourcer?
The above characteristics are not meant as a standardized specification of roles in recruitment. They provide a rough insight into typical duties in both professions. Frequently, the functions of a sourcer and recruiter overlap, while their titles are sometimes used interchangeably. Some companies decide to combine both roles into one (a so-called full-cycle recruiter), and some split them into even narrower fields and corresponding positions. The approach is usually determined by the organization's size and budget but may also depend on its business profile. For example, tech companies are keen to attract the most qualified candidates. Splitting the recruitment process into stages and across specialized roles often helps them to achieve better results.
Overall, it might seem like a recruiter's role is more demanding than that of a sourcer's. This is often but not always the case. Some top talent sourcers are ex-recruiters with vast experience in human resources. Usually, though, a good recruiter should also have the expertise of a sourcer. Especially even in the split-role model, a recruiter may still be required to prove their skills as a sourcer. This might be the case when searching for a candidate for a top position. Companies tend to be discreet about hiring people for strategic roles, even within their own environment. For this purpose, a recruiter might be required to collaborate closely with top management through most of the process.
Hiring success depends on a smooth, goal-oriented collaboration
There are at least several ways to arrange collaboration within an HR team. The details depend on the size of a company, its business profile, its recruitment strategy, and a few other factors. In general, sourcers work with passive candidates and focus on driving talent to the company, while recruiters handle active applicants and narrow the choice to the best few prospects. The final decision lies with a hiring manager and, often, a manager of a company's relevant team or department (for example, a head of marketing if a company recruits for a marketing position).
With plenty of ways to handle recruitment, hiring success depends on the qualifications of the involved personnel and the quality of the collaboration within the HR team.It is also worth stressing that the hiring manager should understand the company's business goals and shape the recruitment process toward achieving those aims.
Sourcing recruiter vs. recruiting sourcer
Let's wrap it up! Recruitment models vary across companies. Typically though, recruiters hold more responsibility and are better qualified to handle the whole search-and-hire process (usually under the supervision of the hiring manager).Tasks in both roles are usually performed according to the following pattern:
Key sourcer's tasks:
-networking and job posting
- driving talent to the company
Key recruiter's tasks:
-participating in intake sessions
- candidate screening
-contacting and interviewing candidates
- selecting the best hires
It is quite common that recruiters take on the sourcer's role, becoming "sourcing recruiters" or full-cycle recruiters. Usually, though, it doesn't work the other way round. An experienced recruiter can choose sourcing as a profession, but a sourcer must follow a development path to become a recruiter.
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