August 23, 2022

Why Is Sourcing Such A Pain In The Ass?


Episode Highlights

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Recruiters: How many hours a week do you spend doom scrolling LinkedIn Recruiter?

Or your database? Or you’re reviewing job ad applicants?

And how much time on top of that doing the initial live vetting?

Sourcing. How every search begins. (After the research phase but you get my point).

It’s such a massive time suck. Especially when it has to be done all over again if something later in the recruitment process breaks down.

If you’re wondering where years of your life went and what can be done about it, Jeff Smith and James Hornick break it down in episode 49 of The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Why Is Sourcing Such A Pain In The Ass?

Episode Transcript

The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on clock. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are busted in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on

This week’s topic, episode 49: why is sourcing such a pain in the ass? I love busted. That’s a- yeah. Yeah. Just occasional ad lib. That’s like the only part of this whole thing that I read off every week, anyways. Got involved somehow. Well we had some good takes this week, right? Yeah. Mm-hmm. Now, so this will be a good one.

This kind of came up because we’ve been hearing this a lot where there seems to be a- well, I guess the theme is there’s a general disconnect between leaders and organizations, hiring leaders, hiring managers, and even sometimes like heads of HR or heads of TA or people didn’t come from the recruiting track that don’t quite understand what goes into sourcing.

So there’s this thought that no matter what’s wrong with the hiring process, we just need more candidates. We’ve all heard that before as recruiters like you just- and sourcers and everyone else. Every recruiter just nodded their head like aggressive. You just, just give me more people.

It’ll be fine, right? So let’s define our terms first off. What sourcing is- really two things. Kind of I’ll break it down. Relevant list creation, revolving around a skill set and a focus and top level vetting to whittle down to find mutual interest between a candidate and a company. That’s what sourcing is. Those two things ultimately.

Yep. Sounds simple. There’s a lot more to it than people realize. So I think of it, it’s a sales funnel basically for hiring, but there’s a lot of things that go into that. So research of the candidate market. You have to know what you’re looking for, the types of people you have to find, you know, you’ve created an ideal candidate profile.

What type of person are we looking for? Then you want to build that big old list using every source you have available. You have to create some messaging. Don’t. Hopefully it doesn’t suck. You have to reach out to people. Have to pray pretty please so people get back to you. Yeah. Then you have to do some initial vetting.

So there’s a lot of different steps in that and that’s like the short, short version, right? So like I said, it’s like a sales funnel. It depends on the position. Depends on how complex it is. But typical, a lot of positions like you need to find and reach out to a hundred people.

You’re going to end up talking to 20 of them. You’re going to interview five of them and you’re going to hire one person. That’s just to make one hire. You need to be able to find a list, a good list, a tight list of relevant list of a hundred people. Need to hire five people with different skill sets? You’re going to need to reach out to 500 people.

You need to hire 10 people of different skill sets? You might need to reach out to a thousand. Now these numbers are going to change. Don’t at me if your ratios are differently. Maybe you work in high volume and you’re making repeat hires and whatever, but you see the point. Right? I think the metrics definitely depend on the position, but like the overarching theme is it, it always takes a lot to get a little, as far as quality is concerned.

And it does. It requires human hours and flexibility. One of the big takeaways from the comment section was, well gosh, AI, and I mean, we’ve pushed Sourcewell. Everybody knows about Sourcewell and we’re into it. But yeah, we agree. Like it’s still going to take a human component to actually look at the list and move those people around and have actual human conversation.

The point is, it’s a ton of work that escalates really, really fast at scale. It gets really overwhelming very fast. So people who are unfamiliar with what’s going on, they only recognize and it’s okay. They only understand the bottom of the funnel. Mm-hmm. They see the five people interview and they’re like, okay

great. Yeah. Like let’s get another five people, right? Yeah. The hiring manager, “Wait you just- you only gave me five people. Like this couldn’t be that hard.” Right. “Just give me five more. Just do it again.” Yeah. I think that that’s the inherent disconnect, right? Yeah. So I guess what goes wrong from here?

What are we getting at ultimately? Yeah. So big distinction that I think we, as an industry, don’t talk about enough. It’s recruiting and sourcing are two very different skill sets and some people can do both. I think it’s full hearty to say that one is a precursor to the other e.i. sourcing is the first thing

and then you grow into a recruiter. Like arguably sourcing is a job that you outgrow, especially if you want to be a recruiter. I mean recruiters are generally spea- I’m not saying introverted or extroverted, but they know how to build bridges between people. They can build relationships, yada, yada. It’s very different from an R&D background, which is what I think sourcing generally is. Like it’s a stepping stone versus an actual like subject matter expertise.

And we can talk at length about how we’re not paying enough and it will be one of our takeaways, but for another day, right. Great sources are R&D junkies like I said. They’re going to tell you, you being internal stakeholder or if we’re an agency, the customer like via data when the well has run dry. What everyone asks for, show me the data.

Like they’re going to tell you it. This isn’t recruiter BS. This is data. Clients believe this means sourcers or agencies like “Oh my God, they’re not working out anymore” or their internal team is like frustrated and they’re not working anymore. And then they start saying, “Oh my gosh, we haven’t met the right recruiter” when it’s honestly just it’s the market or

your search is too narrow. Bottom line like there aren’t any more people. Mm-hmm. There’s a good example- employer says to their internal TA department or an external agency that there’s no more candidates. Why is it slowing down? Why aren’t there any more candidates coming through? But they’re not budging on compensation when the data has suggested, oh my gosh, all these people are 20K above salary.

Get in line with the market of where they should be paid and all of a sudden like the floodgates will open. Yeah. Anyway. Point is, a very, very, very small percentage of the candidates that can do your job will want to or be available to do it- it’s tiny. You’re narrowing it down to a very, very, very small pool

and it’s why the research coupled with recruiting is really, really hard to find. You said it, if you ever heard someone say research and communication are super easy, you’d write them off as a fool. Yeah. But sourcing’s easy. But the aspects that makeup sourcing are really hard. Exactly. Figure that out. Anyways.

All right. Next thing I want to talk about real quick, when parts of the interview process are broken- what sourcing does is it points out when parts of the interview process are broken, instead of getting fixed, sourcers are asked to pick up the slack and just do more. So you got a clunky interview process.

Communication’s bad between the hiring manager and the team. There’s unreasonable assessments. You’re asking people to do last minute interview cancellations that turns people off. They want to bail. You know, uncompelling reasons to even join your company. Didn’t sell it well enough. You’re a low ball salaries.

Like all these kind of things. When you turn around and say like just find us more candidates, the right people are going to want to work here. Okay? Like it’s idiotic, you know. Like work becomes double work, double work becomes triple work. The issue is, as we’ve said before, like the people at the top are so far removed from this work

they don’t understand what goes into it. So like execs, hiring managers, even some HR leaders, they never live the recruiter life. So like sourcing becomes underappreciated by default. Mm-hmm. So the knee jerk reaction is just find like the cheapest person on the team or the most junior person on the team,

maybe someone who’s like an internal HR admin who’s got no experience in sourcing, never done recruiting, but they’re a year out of school, ask them to do sourcing, because it’s not hard. And when they struggle, you just don’t understand why. Yeah. Look, there is literally no quicker way to burn out an internal HR employee that doesn’t understand sourcing than by forcing them to source.

Trust me on this. I’ve done it. Yeah. I’ve learned the hard way. Look, sourcing demands explode exponentially when all of these other issues are left unchecked. Again, reiterating the sourcing will be the end all bandaid. Just find more candidates. This is why your positions are staying open for six months or more.

All right, take aways real quick. We got three of them here. First off, wake up. Understand that sourcers and the sourcing function is undervalued. It’s a function that’s so far removed. If you’re at the top, you’re a leader, you’re an HR person, it’s out of sight out of mind for you. And I get it.

That’s like a normal human thing. But you have to realize there’s so much more to it. Like you’re under appreciating it, the role. Probably underpaying ’em which means like even- it’s the kind of role even the good ones are going to burn out or want to do something else. Like anytime you’re being shit on to ask to do double or triple work and you’re not getting paid much for it.

And what you’re doing is critical to the process, like what do you think’s going to happen to those people? They’re going to move on to do something else. Yeah. I think it’s key to notate too, it forces really good research people to strive to be recruiters, which may inherently not be a good fit, like from their skils perspective,

anyways. Number two, be kind. Have some empathy. Take some interest in what goes into sourcing and talk to these folks and understand the nuts and bolts of what they do. I think that if you really do take a swing at that, you’ll be surprised at how hard the job is. All right, last one. Fix the real problems and stop dumping more work on their plate.

So if your interview process sucks, fix it. If your pitch to a candidate sucks, fix it. If your salaries are low ball, get in line with where they need to be. Like these are the real problems preventing you from filling your roles so they have to be fixed if you want to have some success. But you’re also just like again, you’re just burning at your team if you’re not doing it,

so. You won’t have to throw any more money at sourcing. It’ll be a win/win. Yeah. Anyways, we’re short on clock so that’s a wrap this week. Thanks again for tuning into the 10 Minute Talent Rant, part of the Talent Insights series, which is always available for replay on as well as YouTube, Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again as always. Everyone out there, we will see you soon.

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