This started out as a piece that was planning to explore the sourcers role in playing by the new GDPR rulebook – everyone’s favourite topic! But as I dug in deeper into the world of sourcing by talking to those who live and breathe it, I realised that I should probably first lay the groundwork by gaining a deeper understanding of the discipline. What exactly is a sourcer? Where do they fit into the recruitment process? And why can so few people that can give a straight answer to those questions!? So that’s what this article is about, sourcing and the GDPR will be next on the list. 

Sourcers are not baby recruiters!

If you have sourcer friends and want to shake up the conversation, tell them that they’re only junior recruiters chipping away at becoming a grownup recruiter someday. Make sure you’ve brought your popcorn and maltesers and settle in for a good show.

The role of a sourcer is to attract and engage with candidates.

At a recent DBR (Don’t Break Recruitment!) Meetup I asked Tris Revill, founder of the DBR community, how he sees the difference between the two roles. As he put it — the role of a sourcer is to attract and engage with candidates. Sourcing differs from the role of a recruiter in that recruiters are generally involved in closing the deal between the pre-qualified candidate and the hiring manager, building a relationship with the candidate and helping them through the hiring process to what is hopefully a successful hire.

Sourcers often work in close partnership with recruiters to build up talent pipelines, performing a highly-specialised component of the recruitment process, constantly adapting to new technologies and methodologies. Often the roles can blur, and in smaller recruitment scenarios a recruiter may be tasked with the sourcing role as well. But in larger organisations, or where the is a more mature setup, this is where sourcers are a crucial cog in the talent-building machine. Sourcing has evolved from not engaging with a candidate personally to, in many cases, managing the relationship to a point where it’s sufficiently developed to let the recruiter take the baton. Sourcing salaries can be higher-paid than pure recruitment roles. The professionalisation of the sourcing role has skyrocketed in recent years and to think that it’s a sourcers goal to eventually move on to recruitment would be sorely misinformed. In summary.... sourcer != baby recruiter... unless you’re spoiling for a fight. You can read Tris's thoughts on this here

The Social Sourcer

social sourcing recruitment

Sourcing is an area of recruitment that often flies under the radar. A candidate may never know that a sourcer discovered them. But in the background, using all kinds of wizardry, the sourcer has been sleuthing for the perfect job match. They connect the dots both offline and online to build a picture of an individual, trying to find out as much relevant information as they can to determine if they are a good fit.

This can involve building a picture of a candidate’s digital footprint — from their old MySpace profile to Instagram, Twitter, Github, Reddit, Facebook, public forum posts, LinkedIn profiles and many other sources to try to better understand that persons suitability for the roles that they are looking to fill.

Recruitment Technologists

Sourcers are often hobbyist developers, using technology like Python to gather information for their talent pipeline building. They’re experts in identifying tools to help them improve their sourcing. There is a world of Chrome Extensions out there that sourcers add to their toolkit to help them do their job better.

They are experts at identifying passive candidates. Those that are not actively looking for a new job and who may not have convenient LinkedIn profiles to contact them through. How do you find the perfect candidate who isn’t firing a flare into the air looking for a job by applying through jobs boards and career websites? – talk to a sourcer… now!

recruitment sourcing boolean search

Boolean and X-Ray searching is second nature to sourcers. Developers use these techniques to find answers to technical questions and it’s interesting to see another world of people use it for head-hunting.

We’ve seen the term marketing technologist enter the lexicon in recent years to describe people who have crossover skills between technology and marketing. I think that a great sourcer is a recruitment technologist. They use the best tools out there for the job, learn new ones when needed, aren’t afraid to experiment and have the technical chops to innovate. These skills are fuelling the Growth Hacking Recruitment movement within the sector to accelerate growth and attract talent.

The best sourcers are lazy sourcers

Tris made this comment which threw me at first, thinking it meant that sourcers are afraid of hard work – but what he was getting at is that sourcers who are on top of their game have all their ducks in a row with the processes they put in place to do a bunch of the work for them. They become facilitators, enabling them to scale what they do and do it well while maintaining the human touch – recruitment is a people business after all.

In my next piece I’ll look at why sourcers are an important link in the chain when it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). What’s changed since its introduction and what still needs to change to meet its goals.

topics mentioned in this article


Alan Mac Kenna

Alan Mac Kenna

Web Development & Data Protection Specialist

More Info

About Alan Mac Kenna

I write about various topics including Content Management Systems, Data Protection, Software Development and Recruitment & HR Tech.



Tris Revill

Tris Revill

Recruitment Sourcer

More Info

About Tris Revill

Tris is a community-building, GDPR-loving seasoned sourcer and recruitment growth hacker. When he's not helping people get jobs he's speaking, tweeting or making videos about it. In his spare time, he helps run DBR, a meetup group for in-house recruiters to meet up and share ideas.


Latest Posts