My friend Tim is wrapped up in some debate about recruiters and sourcers. When he told me about it, I blacked out int a coma and said, “Maybe we can talk about X-Men vs Justice League or come up with witty #FireflyWouldYouRather tweets when this debate is over.”


I do know that people get a boner talking about the differences between HR, recruiting and sourcing. So let me tell you what it means to be a sourcer.


In the business world, sourcers are “junior recruiters” who don’t talk to people*. They find individuals who are qualified to do a job. That’s about it. Once the sourcer develops some business skills, she is promoted to a recruiter and invited to do grown-up HR work.

(*This is a different model in, like, six companies around the world. Maybe seven.)


In the world of third-party recruiting, some companies hire specialists who can search the web — or prisons, universities and courthouses — and locate highly specific people who have important skills. This is a good job. Really true to the definition of “sourcer.” Very technical. Kind of fun, from what I hear.

So who cares?

I’m part of a weird movement in HR where I think that you don’t work in HR unless you do some recruiting. Identifying and hiring talented people? That’s job number one. And you can’t hire great people if you don’t know how and where to find them. So all HR professionals ought to be sourcers to some extent.

You know who disagrees with me?

Shockingly, nobody in a human resources leadership role. There are specialized sourcers and recruiters who think they’re being insulted when someone says that their work should fall under the umbrella of HR. They work on the outskirts of the regular economy, which gives them the time and luxury of pontificating about HR.

There is a better way.

I always tell my recruiting friends — true recruiters are sourcers. They might not be great sourcers, but you can help. When you share some of your sourcing knowledge and train those poor HR folks, they’ll come to you when they can’t find someone for a tough-to-fill job.

But what do I know? In the pyramid of HR bullshit, I’m just a human resources blogger!


  1. Laurie,

    I’m a third party recruiter. You’re right I source like crazy. A friend of mine in multi-unit restaurant management told me this, His HR person in charge of recruiting asked if he knew any good managers. She told him she hates cold calling. I smiled. I’m the cold caller. In the romantic vision I climb into my Spitfire to stop the Germans from taking over Britain…only with phone calls…enjoyed today’s blog. 🙂


  2. The new bread of recruiters must be excellent sourcers. We are hiring for a senior level operations and business development position and from looking at resumes I can tell the majority of people with 20 years experience are old school recruiters. They havent spent the time learning the new technology. I mean not just knowing it but really learning it. Watching hundreds of training videos learning it so you just dont know it mechanically, but intuitively. It becomes an extension of you. We specializing in sourcing candidates anywhere in the world “Yes – Anywhere” You must know how to search and where to search. People are connected in ways that were never available before. Our strength is the ability to locate and connect with qualified people all around the world. I recently wrote a short story about how I created a global virtual company and changed my life. It starts back in 1984 when I graduated from college and there were no personal computers or internet. We used typewriters. The story is about the evolution of my career along with the evolution of technology. If you are interested, you can view it here –

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