cool flaming speakersSourcing has always been an important part of the talent acquisition function. Often the conduit for talent coming into the organization, it’s been lumped into business intelligence, sometimes part of the marketing research function but more often than not, lumped into recruiting. Never has that been more apt than now, when sourcing processes formerly reserved for “black belt sourcers” were made into apps and programs that virtually everyone could access and use from anywhere.

So where does that leave sourcing? Is it still a function of recruiting? Or has it been completely co-opted by the innovation we see in the field? Andrew Karpie discusses the current state of sourcing as he sees it from a recent survey:

  • 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).

So while sourcing is still considered a very important part of talent acquisition, it does seem to be moving in a very specific direction. While we’re discussing big data (and the changes that will ultimately create for sourcers and researchers alike) on the peripheral of talent management analyses and blogs, it’s not yet the mainstream topic it should be. And as many point out, sourcers can and should be the bearers of much of the automation set in place to handle the “tsunami of data”, to use John Sumser’s term.

Like every industry sourcing has its own gurus and best practice leaders. Recently, as if to underline and bold the shift of sourcing, sourcing experts like Shally Steckerl, Dave Mendoza and Glenn Cathey have moved toward widespread training (Steckerl has gone back to his training and consulting roots), big data consulting (Mendoza outlines sourcing strategy for several clients, having most recently made headlines for his work with data giant Informatica) and product design (Cathey is now VP of Product and Developmental Strategy at SourceRight) respectively. Will we see old school sourcing techniques popping up in internal company processes and new products soon? Glen Cathey (in a great article that should be required reading for anyone interested in sourcing right now) says this:

Although the Internet can of course be used to find information about people, it is critical to recognize that the Internet was neither built for nor intended for sourcing talent. As such, it would be foolish not to recognize how ridiculous it is to rely heavily on Internet search engines for sourcing success.

Glenn goes on to discuss how automation cannot and should not take the place of a skilled sourcer and states that if companies want solid sourcing, they have to invest in their sourcers, paying them more than the cited $40,000 annually and investing in quality tools.

Finally, there’s the outsourcing of sourcing (say that five times fast). The headline story of 2011 was how RPO was the fastest growing section of talent acquisition, but can the big firms do the kinds of sourcing that companies need? Sourcing can be defined in many ways including straight name generation, generation and assessment and developing pipelines or communities of candidates; are those all jobs that can happen out side the walls of your company? Many companies find that if the answer is yes, solid SLAs and transparency with the corporation are massive keys to success.

So what do YOU think? Should sourcing be a separate but related and integrated function within the corporate structure? Should we begin “baking in” sourcing training and automation within our SaaS and applications and products? Or is RPO and sourcing out sourcing the future of sourcing? What do you think?

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