Sourcing vs Recruiting

What is the Difference Between Sourcing and Recruiting?

Published on January 5th, 2023


There is a blurry line between the terms sourcing and recruitment, and there are several factors that increase the ambiguity of the situation.

The foremost and primary factor is the increasingly global nature of talent acquisition. Another is the evolving role of social media in identifying and acquiring new talent.

The confusion comes from the fact that both have job descriptions that overlap a lot. But although their jobs may overlap, there are fundamental differences between sourcing and recruiting. 

To give you an idea, sourcing is something that is done as an early step in the recruiting process. And recruiting of course comes after sourcing. The two terms sourcing and recruitment are quite related to each other but not at all synonymous. 

Before discussing sourcing and recruitment in detail, let us look at the striking differences between recruiting and sourcing first (Sourcing vs Recruiting) 




PurposeIdentifying and attracting potential candidates.Selecting and hiring the best candidates.
Main ActivitySearching for qualified candidates.Evaluating and assessing candidates.
FocusPassive candidate engagement.Active candidate evaluation.
TimingPrior to the recruiting process.During the hiring process.
GoalBuild a pool of potential candidates.Fill specific job openings.
Initial ContactThe first interaction with candidates.Follow-up contact after sourcing.

- Sourcing through job boards, LinkedIn, etc.

- Reaching out via email or messages.

- Pre-screening candidates.

- Building a talent pipeline.

- Reviewing resumes/CVs.

- Conducting interviews.

- Checking references.

- Negotiating offers.

Importance of FitFocused on candidate skills and experience.Evaluates overall cultural fit and potential.
Relationship BuildingLimited relationship development initially.Requires ongoing relationship building.
Volume of CandidatesThe high volume of potential candidates.Fewer candidates are in the evaluation stage.
Skill Set RequiredStrong research and search skills.Interpersonal and assessment skills.
RoleOften performed by a dedicated sourcer.Typically carried out by recruiters.



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So, What is Sourcing in Recruiting? 

Simply put, sourcing is the process of finding suitable candidates for a job role and people who specialize in sourcing are called ‘sourcers’.

Ultimately, sourcing candidates aims to create a talent pipeline that can be used at the time of recruiting. However, when sourcing passive candidates (candidates who are not actively looking for jobs), it turns into passive candidate sourcing.

Overall, candidate sourcing involves identifying candidates for organizational roles and assessing and engaging them to turn them into potential applicants.

Sourcing always happens early in the recruitment process. A sourcer’s job is to convince the candidate to apply for a position. When sourcers lock down candidates, they hand the candidates off to the recruiter who continues the process of recruiting

In a nutshell, sourcing is the subset of recruiting.

Day to Day task in Sourcing

  • Hunting and finding both active and passive candidates
  • Creating interest and driving talent to the company
  • Engaging potential candidates
  • Networking through industry-related groups
  • Searching specialty and niche job boards

Tips for Candidate Sourcing

  1. Use Applicant Tracking System: Take advantage of applicant tracking systems to keep track of all your applicants and filter out the best candidates for your pipeline.
  2. Use different Sourcing Channels: Look at offbeat websites and channels for your candidates. Approach candidates from specific sites that are dedicated to specific lines of work.
  3. Also include offline sourcing: Conduct meetings, conferences, and seminars to meet potential candidates, because however advanced the technology may become, face-to-face sourcing is unparalleled.
  4. Take the help of your employees: Find out if your employees’ networks would be a good fit for your open roles. Run candidate sourcing sessions with your team to reach untapped talent.
  5. Source for unlisted Jobs as well: Save yourself a round of sourcing by strategizing the company’s future needs and sourcing candidates for an upcoming job vacancy beforehand. 
  6. Draft Effective Messages: Engage with the candidates you have reached out to by drafting a message with a specific subject line and including relevant information. Also, explain how you think their skills could contribute to your company’s goals.

What is Recruiting?

Recruiting involves attracting potential applicants, screening, interviewing, and assisting them through the entire hiring process. 

It starts where sourcing ends, with recruiters receiving the talent pipeline after the talent sourcers have engaged potential candidates.

A recruiter takes part in candidate onboarding, and offer negotiation, and becomes the point of contact for the candidate from then. They also serve as the intermediary between the candidates and the clients or organizations looking to fill a position.

Administrative responsibilities like advertising job vacancies on job sites, assessing and screening applications, scheduling interviews, coordinating with candidates, and attending to any other client organization requirements are also carried out by recruiters.

Day to Day tasks in Recruiting

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

So What is the Difference Between Sourcing and Recruitment?

Talent sourcing and recruitment are similar, but not the same. Sourcing feeds into recruitment, to create a consistent flow of highly-skilled and qualified applicants for roles.

Sourcing is the precursor to recruitment. It is the starting point of a recruitment process, searching for and identifying talent, then nurturing them and turning them into leads for the hiring team.

Recruitment teams then take those sourced candidates, alongside ones who have applied directly through a job board or have been put forward by a recruitment agency, and funnel them into the application process.

Recruiters oversee each stage of the process, from initial screening through assessment, interview, and finally onboarding and employment.

Where do Sourcing and Recruiting meet?

When comparing sourcing and recruitment, there may still be a sizable degree of overlap, depending on the organization you're looking at. Both for instance involve gathering relevant information and identifying and screening applicants based on their qualifications and expertise. 

Since the capacity to attract, hire, and retain top talent may decide a company's success or failure in both the short and long terms, both roles are essential components of any hiring strategy.

Where the lines often blur has a lot to do with who is performing these jobs. A single recruiter can have both sourcing and recruiting duties in one company, while in another the work is divided up among specialists or external sourcers and recruiters who work in tandem to achieve their respective goals. So which is the better approach?

It all depends on the size of your business, your recruitment budget, and your hiring objectives.

Why is it important to keep Sourcing and Recruiting apart? 

If your company is small and your hiring requirements are not urgent, you might decide to assign the entire recruitment process to one individual or an internal team. Just watch out when trying to play a joint sourcing and recruitment function that they won't become overburdened by the number of responsibilities they'll be taking on. 

While initially paying fewer employees to complete the task might be less expensive, what you save in salary costs may be lost in subsequent hidden costs. A less effective and overworked staff will take longer to find and employ quality candidates, which will increase the cost of each hire and maybe use up more of your budget for hiring than you had planned.

That's why you may choose to separate your sourcing and recruiting functions either within or outside your company.

Here are a few benefits of keeping sourcing and recruiting apart;

Better Hiring

Any recruiter aims to decrease the time and expense involved in filling a post. However, if they are also acting as a sourcer, it will inevitably lower the hiring standard.

Both recruiters and sourcers have unique skill sets, therefore appointing one individual to perform the duties of both can result in subpar execution.

On the other side, separating the resources will guarantee that your recruiters have a backup source for prospective candidates at all times.

Sourcers and recruiters can evaluate applicants more thoroughly and swiftly when they aren't concerned about each other's jobs.

Since the recruiters won't be overworked and can recuperate after making successful hires, it results in higher team productivity overall. Sourcers can restock the talent pipeline at the same time.

Avoid Loss

Due to a lack of bandwidth, it may be difficult to maintain business operations if you need to make an urgent hire.

You will be losing each working day with an open position by the time you gather the prospects, assess them, and evaluate them. Consider the amount of work and revenue you'll miss as a result of workforce limitations, especially in a competitive world like the one we live in today where every hour counts for business growth.

Focused Teams

You can count on teams to deliver greater outcomes while avoiding burnout when they are given clear roles and aren't always catching up with the workload.

Additionally, it lessens the possibility of mistakes and delays, improving the candidate experience.


Importance of Keeping Sourcing and Recruiting Apart

Focused ExpertiseBy keeping sourcing and recruiting separate, specialized teams or individuals can focus on their respective tasks. Sourcing teams can concentrate on identifying and engaging potential candidates, while recruiters can dedicate their efforts to assessing, interviewing, and selecting the best-fit candidates for specific job roles. This division of labor allows for a more targeted and efficient approach to talent acquisition.
Proactive Talent PipelinesWhen sourcing and recruiting are distinct functions, sourcing teams can proactively build and maintain talent pipelines. This means consistently engaging with potential candidates, even when there are no immediate job openings. As a result, when recruitment needs arise, there is already a pool of qualified candidates to consider, expediting the hiring process and ensuring a continuous flow of talent.
Enhanced Candidate ExperienceSeparating sourcing and recruiting helps in providing a better candidate experience. Sourcing teams can focus on initial candidate engagement and relationship-building, making candidates feel valued and appreciated. Recruiters, in turn, can focus on providing more personalized attention to candidates in the later stages of the hiring process, ensuring smoother communication and a positive candidate experience overall.
Streamlined Talent AcquisitionBy keeping sourcing and recruiting apart, organizations can streamline their talent acquisition processes. Sourcing teams can efficiently identify potential candidates, which saves recruiters' time spent searching for candidates. This allows recruiters to dedicate their efforts to evaluating and selecting the most qualified candidates, leading to a more effective and productive hiring process.
Increased Recruitment EfficiencyThe separation of sourcing and recruiting roles allows both functions to become more efficient in their respective areas. Sourcing teams can work on continuously building talent pools, reducing time-to-fill for future positions. Simultaneously, recruiters can focus on thoroughly evaluating candidates' qualifications and fit for specific roles, resulting in better hiring decisions and reduced turnover rates.







What is your take?

While some companies are focusing on sourcing, some are merging both roles and hiring the best candidates.

It all comes down to organizational needs. Having a separate sourcing component in the recruiting process may decrease the time to hire because there’s a more robust pipeline of talent from the sourcing side. When the pipeline is already filled with screened candidates, the applicants tend to be of higher quality and a better fit for a given role.

Does your organization employ people who specialize in the sourcing components of the recruiting process? If not, is it something you’re considering for the future? If you are sourcing and recruiting candidates, HireQuotient's candidate sourcing software is the right choice to identify your next best hire in just a few minutes. It streamlines your recruitment process and find the ideal candidates for your organization's needs. Gain valuable insights and boost efficiency in talent acquisition strategy with our innovative candidate sourcing tool. In case you have any concerns or if you need help to set up a recruiting process, do get in touch with the experts here.  

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Radhika Sarraf

Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.

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