What is Sourcing? vs. What Does a Sourcer Do?

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Humpty_Dumpty“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

 

A definition of a term works, if the majority of practitioners agree to it. It’s quite remarkable, that with Sourcing becoming hugely popular and necessary, we still lack a definition. Sourcing still “means so many different things”.

Back in January Glen Cathey wrote:

“It believe it would certainly be helpful and beneficial to have a universally agreed upon definition of exactly what sourcing is.”

The question “What is Sourcing?” remains unanswered, because, apparently, at this moment in time our definitions still vary dramatically. Yet conferences, discussions, and classes on Sourcing very much exist and bring together like-minded people.

Not wanting to go into a useless round of arguments yet another time, at a panel at the recent Sourcing Summit Europe I replied to someone from the audience: “Sourcing is what we do”:) 

…But then, it occurred to me that we may be stuck simply because we mix “Sourcing” with “What a Sourcer does”, and those are two different things!

I was reminded about this topic again, looking at today’s SourceCon tweets:

sourcingis

So:

To add to this, here are some definitions from elsewhere on the web:

That is all over the place!

Below I will try to provide a suggestion that may lead us to agree on what Sourcing is (or not – who knows!).

Let’s pause with definitions for a moment and let’s imagine a sole Recruiter serving a small, growing start-up. With a job requisition in hand, the Recruiter:

  1. Searches for matching professionals
  2. Calls them and tries to engage
  3. If all goes well, interviews follow, etc.

Everyone agrees so far?

If during the step 1 (searching for potential candidates) you walked up to the Recruiter and asked what she is doing, what do you think she’d answer?

  • “I am sourcing”
  • “I am recruiting”

I bet you expect her to say “I am sourcing”.

Attention, please! Now, if during the step 2 (calling potential candidates and trying to get their interest in the company and the position) you walked up to the Recruiter and asked what she is doing, what do you think she’d answer?

  • “I am sourcing”
  • “I am recruiting”

Hmm…

I think she is recruiting.

What do you think?

Now, let’s go back to what a Sourcer’s job functions are? – which is a different question from what is Sourcing?

We may say that part of the job is Sourcing and part of it is Recruiting. (Maybe part of it is also making good coffee for the office.) What a Sourcer does, obviously, varies from place to place.

It’s a fact that many Sourcers engage candidates on the phone before passing the information on. I’d say many Sourcers recruit as part of their job.