Sourcing vs Recruiting

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Sourcing vs Recruiting: What Are the Differences?

Marko Pavicevic

Marko Pavicevic

If you are new to the world of talent acquisition, it’s important to understand the differences between sourcing and recruiting.

These two terms refer to distinct approaches in finding and attracting top talent for open positions which complement each other.

Recruiting is what comes after sourcing. Once a talent sourcer builds a talent pool, recruiters review candidates and fit the best talent to a role.

Continue reading if you want to further deepen your understanding on these two complementary processes in hiring.

Definition of Sourcing

Sourcing is an early-stage activity in the hiring process that involves searching for potential candidates. Sourcers focus on finding both active and passive candidates who may be a good fit for the organization’s job openings.

They employ various techniques to identify and engage with these individuals, such as searching online platforms, leveraging professional networks, and using advanced search strategies.

The primary goal of sourcing is to create interest in open positions and convince suitable candidates to apply.

Read more about candidate sourcing.

Definition of Recruiting

Recruiting encompasses the entire process of attracting, evaluating, and hiring candidates. Recruiters are responsible for managing the hiring process from start to finish.

They work closely with hiring managers and other stakeholders to understand the requirements of the job, screen applicants, conduct interviews, and facilitate the final selection.

They focus on assessing candidate fit, managing the overall recruitment process, and convincing qualified candidates to join the organization.

Key Differences between Sourcing and Recruiting

1. Timing in the hiring process

Sourcing occurs early in the hiring process, even before a job opening is officially posted.

Sourcers proactively search for potential candidates to build a talent pool that can be tapped into when positions become available.

On the other hand, recruiting takes place after a job opening has been identified and posted. Recruiters engage with applicants who have either already shown interest in the position and are actively applying for the job or have been contacted by sources previously.

2. Focus on active vs passive candidates

Sourcers focus on both active and passive candidates.

Active candidates are actively seeking employment and may have already applied for other job openings.

Passive candidates, on the other hand, are currently employed or not actively looking for new opportunities.

Sourcers employ various strategies to attract passive candidates and convince them to consider a career change.

Recruiters primarily engage with active candidates who have already expressed interest in the job through applications or referrals or with those candidates who have already been contacted by sourcers.

Read more: What is active sourcing?

3. Roles and responsibilities

Sourcers and recruiters have distinct roles and responsibilities within the hiring process. Sourcers specialize in talent identification and engagement.

They are skilled at searching for candidates, building talent pipelines, and creating interest in open positions.

Recruiters, on the other hand, take on a broader role that involves managing the entire hiring process.

They are responsible for assessing candidate fit, conducting interviews, coordinating with hiring managers, and facilitating the final selection.

4. Goals and objectives

The goals and objectives of sourcing and recruiting differ as well.

Sourcing aims to identify and attract a pool of potential candidates who may be suitable for future job openings. It focuses on building relationships and engaging with individuals who could be a good fit for the organization.

Recruiting, on the other hand, focuses on the immediate hiring needs of the organization. Its goal is to assess and select the best candidates from the pool of applicants who have already expressed interest in the job.

Benefits of Sourcing

Sourcing offers several benefits that can help organizations find and attract top talent effectively.

1. Finding hidden talent

Sourcing allows organizations to tap into a broader pool of talent, including passive candidates who may not be actively searching for job opportunities.

By proactively identifying and engaging with these individuals, organizations increase their chances of finding highly qualified candidates who might have been overlooked through traditional recruitment methods.

2. Building talent pipelines

Sourcing also enables the creation of talent pipelines.

By consistently sourcing and engaging with potential candidates, organizations can build relationships and establish connections with individuals who may be a good fit for future job openings.

This strategic approach helps reduce time-to-fill and ensures a steady supply of qualified candidates.

3. Creating interest in open positions

One of the primary goals of sourcing is to generate interest in open positions.

Sourcers employ various techniques to capture candidates’ attention, such as personalized outreach, highlighting the organization’s unique selling points, and emphasizing career growth opportunities.

By effectively creating interest, organizations can attract highly motivated candidates who are genuinely interested in the job and the organization.

Benefits of Recruiting

Recruiting plays a crucial role in the overall hiring process and offers its own set of advantages.

1. Assessing candidate fit

Recruiters are responsible for evaluating candidates’ qualifications, skills, and cultural fit.

They conduct interviews, assess candidates’ abilities, and make informed decisions regarding their suitability for the position and the organization.

This careful evaluation ensures that the selected candidates align with the organization’s requirements and contribute to its long-term success.

2. Managing the entire hiring process

Recruiters take charge of managing the entire recruitment process.

They collaborate with hiring managers, schedule interviews, coordinate feedback, and ensure a smooth and efficient hiring experience for all parties involved.

Their expertise in handling the process ensures that the organization follows best practices and maintains a positive employer brand throughout.

3. Convincing candidates to apply

Recruiters play a persuasive role in convincing qualified candidates to apply for open positions.

They showcase the organization’s benefits, address any concerns or questions, and guide candidates through the application process.

By effectively communicating the value proposition of the organization, recruiters increase the chances of attracting highly qualified candidates.


In conclusion, sourcing and recruiting are distinct but complementary approaches to finding and attracting top talent.

Sourcing focuses on early-stage candidate identification and engagement, while recruiting encompasses the entire hiring process.

Both approaches have their benefits and are suited for different organizational needs and more often than not they are used together as part of a hiring or talent acquisition strategy.

By understanding the differences and considering your specific requirements, you can choose the right approach that aligns with your business goals and helps you find the best candidates for your organization.


1. Is sourcing or recruiting more effective?

Both sourcing and recruiting can be effective, depending on your organization’s specific needs. Sourcing is valuable for building talent pipelines and finding hidden talent, while recruiting is essential for managing the overall hiring process and assessing candidate fit.

2. Can sourcing and recruiting be used together?

Yes, sourcing and recruiting can be used together to create a comprehensive hiring strategy. Sourcing helps identify potential candidates, and recruiting manages the process of evaluating and hiring them.

3. How can sourcing benefit my organization?

Sourcing can benefit your organization by expanding your talent pool, building relationships with potential candidates, and generating interest in open positions. It allows you to tap into passive candidates who may not be actively seeking job opportunities.

4. What are the primary responsibilities of sourcers and recruiters?

Sourcers focus on talent identification and engagement, while recruiters manage the entire recruitment process. Sourcers search for potential candidates, while recruiters assess candidate fit, conduct interviews, and facilitate the final selection.

5. How do I determine the right approach for my business?

To determine the right approach, consider your hiring needs, available resources, and the nature of the position you are hiring for. Evaluate whether you require a proactive talent pipeline or immediate hiring, and assess the skills and tools available within your organization.

Marko Pavicevic

Marko Pavicevic

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