What is the Importance of "Sourcing" in Your Staffing Firm?

Does your staffing firm organize and conduct "sourcing" as a distinct process and discipline?  What does it consist of?  How important is it to your firm? 

What is "sourcing?" 

In his recent post, The Current and Future State of Talent Staffing, Glen Cathey (the renowned Sourcing "Black Belt" and now the new VP, Global Sourcing and Talent Strategy at SourceRight Solutions) offers some helpful observations:

"I define sourcing to include any and all activities whose primary purpose is talent discovery and identification..... While some companies may limit their sourcers to exactly that – searching only the Internet and generating names for someone else to engage – sourcing is and should be much more than that....Sourcing encompasses the use of any source of human capital data – an ATS, Monster, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, etc., and it can also include the phone, email, and messaging work of engaging potential candidates and networking with them to yield referrals and the opportunity to identify more potential candidates. ... Yes, networking with people – whether they be new hires, existing staff and management, or complete strangers – to find and identify potential candidates is also sourcing, regardless of method (electronically, over the phone, or in person)."

With respect to both corporate recruiting organizations as well as staffing agencies, Cathey not only expresses his belief in the rising importance of "sourcing" in the overall talent acquisition process; he also expresses serious doubts about the extent to which the discipline of "sourcing" is now generally understood and valued (by organizations which should know better).  Cathey’s view: 

"When it comes to the entire talent management lifecycle, nothing is more important than sourcing. … That’s because, quite simply, the entire talent management lifecycle is completely dependent upon discovering and identifying potential talent in the first place. …You cannot engage, build a relationship with, recruit, hire, retain and develop someone you haven’t found."

But, he continues:

"I believe that sourcing is largely misunderstood, undervalued, and under-invested in today. … I offer as evidence:

  •  An alarming number of people seem to believe that sourcing is all about Boolean logic
  • There are people who believe that sourcing is a function that can be easily replaced by software
  • There are well respected companies who don’t give their sourcers or recruiters any premium or purpose-built tools or resources
  • The recently conducted sourcing compensation survey illustrated that 23% of the respondents make less than $40,000 annually"

Indeed, Cathey cites the recently conducted SourceCon Sourcing Compensation Survey, which also breaks out compensation of Corporate vs. Agency Sourcers: 

(Click on image to enlarge)

Cathey notes that sourcing positions are often considered to be entry-level roles, which he believes reflects the broad underestimation of how important "sourcing" and Sourcers should be.  Interestingly, the average compensation level for Agency Sourcers tends to be significantly below that of Corporate Sourcers.

What more can we say about the state of "sourcing" in the staffing industry? 

I recently collected a small, but statistically significant and representative, data sample, which allowed me to garner some additional insights:

  • About three-quarters of staffing firm respondents acknowledged that "sourcing" was a function performed, in some manner or form, within their overall talent acquisition process.
  • While the data did not reveal the rigor or maturity of the "sourcing" function among those respondents, we can say that only about one-half of them were able to affirm that their organizations contained formal "sourcer" or "researcher" job roles (and this finding was not dependent on the size of the firm).
  • Finally, only about one-third of the above respondents indicated that their firms maintained organizationally separate "sourcing" and recruiting functions (again, not size dependent); and over half of those firms, separating sourcing and recruiting, were actually outsourcing  the function (not infrequently off-shore). 

How does your firm stack up to these statistics?  How do you conduct "sourcing," and how important is it to you?  Are there reasons for you to be approaching "sourcing" differently?

Also, please join our SIA Community of Talent Acquisition Information by taking our very first talent acquisition survey.  For more information about the survey, see my other blog post, About the Survey.  To go directly to the survey and take it, click on this link:  Take the Survey now

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