Do You Confuse “Sourcing” with “Recruiting?”

“I recruit using Dice.” “I recruit using social media.”  “I recruit using LinkedIn.”  “What is the best job board to recruit Sales (or IT or Marketing or Finance, etc) candidates?”  These are all questions I have seen repeatedly in recruitment Yahoo! Groups or in LinkedIn Groups.


It appears that many companies confuse sourcing with recruiting, possibly since many sourcing tools try to sell themselves as recruiting tools.  While sourcing is certainly important, it is the third step in the recruitment sales process.  All seasoned recruiters, corporate and third party, may leave the room…


The Recruitment Sales Process


1) Define a need – new or replacement employee

2) Develop a solution - Effective Job Description

3) Source available Qualified Candidates

4) Needs analysis – the interview 

5) The Offer/Counter Offer conversation

6) Compensation Negotiation

7) Acceptance/Counter Offer conversation

8) New Employee Start/On boarding process


If there are eight steps in the Recruitment Sales Process, is “Recruiting” only step 3?  Of course not!


When a Lean consultant is looking at a process to clean up wasteful steps, they look at the entire process to determine where they need to direct their attention first.  For many companies the first step to stop and examine is the Job Description step.  When a company takes a shortcut with the job description, they place the entire process at risk.  Why?  The job description drives sourcing, interviewing, selecting, and the first year of the candidate’s employment.  Read "Building An Effective Job Description".


The second step to examine is the Sourcing step.  Sourcing may be done actively and/or passively.  I find it interesting when companies with great products and great brand loyalty do not capitalize on both when searching for candidates.  The homepage is a great place to offer loyal customers the opportunity to work for them.  Examine company websites.  How difficult is it for potential candidates to find their list of open positions?  Read "Attracting Passive Candidates?" to develop an understanding how quickly passive candidates (who may be among your best customers) leave your web pages. Does it benefit your company to mostly have the desperate candidates applying?  Too many steps to submit a resume drives qualified candidates away.  Understanding candidate practices is important for corporate and third party recruiters alike.


Do you source by networking and convincing passive candidates “just to spend a little time with me to discuss a position”?  Congratulations!  Now you are recruiting!  Simply scooping resumes/applications out of an applicant tracking system or going through the resumes received from third party recruiting firms is a recruiting clerk’s job.  As I’ve demonstrated many times, true recruiting is a Sales Process.


Now the recruiting is just beginning!  How finely tuned is your interviewing process?  Do you pre-screen candidates or do you simply float resumes to hiring managers without a screen?  If you pre-screen candidates by interviewing them (phone is fine), you are still in the recruiting process.  If you simply float the resumes to the hiring manager without a conversation with the candidates (whether you are a third party or corporate recruiter), you are a recruiting clerk.  During that pre-screening conversation with the candidate, you discover their motivations to leave (even if they think they want to stay), their skills, their potential fit, potential interest, and begin the discussion of counter offers. 


All of this, while very important, is still only step 3 of an 8 step process.  Yes, recruiting is more than receiving resumes and passing them along.  Effective full lifecycle recruiters (whether third party or corporate) earn their money because talent acquisition is key to a company’s growth (or poorly done, its demise).


Assuming we have qualified candidates on board with some levels of interest, let’s examine step 4 – Needs Analysis.  Both the hiring manager and the candidate are conducting needs analysis during the interview. 


Are your hiring managers trained how to create an effective interview and then conduct an interview that probes their candidates’ skills?  If not, hiring managers are determining the best fit by their guts – not really the best way to determine the best fit.  Therefore a seasoned recruiter will step in and provide some interview training for that manager.  With an effective job description many times experienced recruiters know better whether a candidate is qualified or not to do a job than the hiring manager.  A manager who is not trained how to effectively interview and select the best candidate also has a negative impact on retention – and raises recruiting costs by continually recruiting to fill the same position over and over.  Read "Critical Corporate Interviewing Improves Retention".


Meanwhile the candidates for the most part also do not know how to interview.  Sometimes I wonder how the best matches ever happen!  Effective recruiters prep their candidates on what to expect, how to highlight appropriate (not lie – highlight) skills and experience.  The recruiter sells the candidate on the company, position, and the manager.  Then they request that the candidate call them shortly after the interview for a debriefing.


Once the manager determines who they feel is the best fit, it is time to develop an offer.  The seasoned recruiter already knows what the candidate is expecting for a compensation package and will coach the hiring manager how best to meet those expectations, especially if salary is an issue.  By the way, once a manager has decided on a candidate – and before the recruiter has extended an offer – many will already begin to pencil that person into meetings.  You better deliver! 


The recruiter begins the offer process by reinforcing why the candidate is interested in the position.  Once the recruiter has their interest again, it is time to extend the offer with the proper amount of enthusiasm.  Sometimes the candidate will accept immediately.  Sometimes they want more time to decide.  Sometimes they receive a Counter Offer.  Read "Countering The Counter Offer".


The recruiter’s job is not complete until the candidate starts and becomes an employee.  Therefore, recruiting is much more important than simply forwarding resumes.

Views: 11752

Comment by Brigadier YR MAINDIRATTA on February 22, 2012 at 12:26am

Thanks for your educative post. This is knowledge and wisdom oozing out from the first hand experienced professional. All this put across without any jargon and flowery twists.

Keep sharing, Bill.





Comment by Theus Amuah on March 1, 2012 at 8:59am

Great post Bill. It's nice to see a clear and effective distinction being made between recruiting and sourcing!

However, I do believe social media can be encorporated into more of the eight steps than just the third one (not necessarily all of them). It will be interesting to see what everyone else thinks.


Comment by Bill Humbert on March 1, 2012 at 9:34am



I understand your comment.  However, social media is one of the engines that potentially drives the candidate to you (sourcing). Then the balance of the steps are on their own.  Social media should not be used for interviewing, selection, offers, negotiation, acceptance, and onboarding.  Those steps need to be relationship building personal and confidential conversations.

Comment by Theus Amuah on March 1, 2012 at 9:58am

Valid points brought forward. I understand where you're coming from. If you have a moment or two, have a look at this link and let us know what you think.

Thanks Bill

Comment by Bill Humbert on March 1, 2012 at 11:12am

Theus, not sure how that article applies to this thread...


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