Candidate search
Jul 6, 2023 — Carly Miller

Sourcing vs. Recruiting: Key Differences

Hiring the right talent is crucial to the success of any organization. As a recruiter or hiring manager, your job is to identify and hire top talent for your company. It’s essential to tackle sourcing vs. recruiting and nail down their key differences.

While many use these terms interchangeably, they are two distinct roles in the recruiting process. Both sourcing and recruiting play critical roles in identifying and hiring suitable candidates, but their approaches and responsibilities differ.

In this blog post, we will explore the nuances of these two roles to help you better understand how they complement each other and how you can leverage them to build a more robust hiring strategy.

What is Sourcing?

Job candidates sitting in chairs preparing for interviews

Talent sourcing is a critical component of the hiring process. It refers to identifying and finding qualified job candidates for open positions. Talent sourcing involves identifying and researching highly qualified candidates with the necessary skills for the role. You can use various methods to source candidates, including social media, resume databases, and referrals.

One of the primary goals of sourcing is to build a pipeline of active and passive candidates for future job openings. This means constantly monitoring the job market to identify and establish relationships with top job applicants. By building relationships with candidates over time, you can create a pool of qualified candidates to recruit when new job opportunities arise.

In addition to building candidate pipelines, sourcing is critical in reducing the time needed to fill job openings. Proactively identifying and engaging with the best talent can significantly reduce the time required to fill a job opening.

A good talent sourcing strategy can also help recruiters identify passive candidates who may not be actively looking for new job opportunities but may be open to considering a new opportunity if approached correctly.

Methods and Tools Used For Sourcing

Candidate sourcing can be completed in various ways, depending on your objectives and target audience. Keep reading to learn about the top methods for building a talent pipeline through candidate sourcing.

Job Boards

Job search

Posting job listings on well-known job boards is one of the most traditional candidate-sourcing methods. This method has a wide reach and attracts many active candidates. However, posting to a job board can be expensive, and standing out from other companies can be challenging.

Social Media

A person posting onto social media from their phone

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are great tools for reaching potential candidates, especially for technical roles. Using hashtags and targeted advertising, talent acquisition teams can connect with candidates with specific skills and qualifications. Social media also allows you to showcase your company’s culture and values, which can be crucial in attracting top talent.


Choosing the right candidate in your network

Referrals from current employees, alum networks, and industry connections can effectively source candidates. Employee referrals tend to be high-quality candidates more likely to stay with the company long-term. Referral programs can incentivize employees to refer qualified candidates by offering rewards or bonuses.

Talent Sourcing Tools


Talent sourcing tools use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and engage with potential candidates. These tools can search across various platforms and databases to find candidates who match the required skills and qualifications.


Businesspeople interacting at a networking event

Networking events, industry conferences, and meetups can be excellent sourcing opportunities. Recruiters can build relationships with industry professionals, join industry-related groups, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the field.

Direct Sourcing

A woman writing while on a phone call

Direct sourcing involves contacting potential job applicants through email, phone, or social media. This method requires a more personalized approach and can be time-consuming, but it can be highly effective in identifying and engaging with a qualified candidate.

In conclusion, there are several effective methods for sourcing candidates, and recruiters should adapt their approach based on the position and the industry. By combining these methods and constantly refining their process, recruiters can build a steady pipeline of top candidates.

What is Recruiting?

Two women in a job interview

Recruiting is the process of bringing predetermined qualified candidates onto a team, from sourcing and identifying potential candidates to finalizing job offers and onboarding. Recruiters manage the entire recruiting process, from posting job listings to conducting interviews, negotiating salaries, and making final hiring decisions.

Recruiters play a critical role in building strong teams within organizations. They work closely with hiring managers to identify the skills, experience, and personality traits required for a job opening. Once the ideal candidate has been identified through the sourcing process, recruiters are responsible for engaging potential candidates and guiding them through the recruitment process.

One of the most critical responsibilities of a recruiter is to ensure that the candidate’s experience is positive throughout the recruitment process. This involves being transparent about the hiring process, providing feedback to candidates, and ensuring that communication is ongoing and transparent. Recruiters must also know the company’s culture and values to ensure the candidate fits well.

Recruiting also involves negotiating salaries and job offers and ensuring the onboarding process runs smoothly. Successful recruiters build strong relationships with candidates, hiring managers, and other stakeholders involved in the hiring process to ensure that things run smoothly and efficiently.

Recruiting is vital in ensuring an organization can attract and retain the best talent. By managing the entire hiring process, recruiters help ensure that candidates have a positive experience and that the organization can build strong and effective teams.

Sourcing vs. Recruiting: Understanding the Differences

A man and woman holding notes and walking

While sourcing and recruiting functions differ, it is critical to understand these differences and how they complement one another. Here are some key differences between sourcing and recruiting.


Sourcing is the process of identifying candidates and building a talent pipeline. It involves searching for candidates through various channels such as job boards, social media platforms, referral networks, and other sources. Conversely, recruiting is the process of attracting, selecting, and hiring qualified candidates for a specific job opening.


Sourcing focuses on building a talent pool that can be contacted when a suitable position becomes available. It is a proactive approach to hiring, where recruiters aim to create relationships with potential candidates before there is an actual job opening. On the other hand, recruiting is a reactive approach, where recruiters focus on filling the current job openings.


Sourcing involves searching for candidates based on their skills, experience, and qualifications. Recruiters then evaluate the potential candidates and engage with them to determine their interests and availability. Recruiting involves screening, interviewing, and assessing candidates based on their skills, experience, and cultural fit. This process is usually more time-consuming than sourcing.


Sourcing requires search engine optimization, digital marketing, and data analytics skills. Recruiters need to have strong interpersonal skills, communication skills, and the ability to assess candidates’ suitability for the job. While sourcing and recruiting require these skills, they are used differently in each process.


Sourcing relies heavily on technology tools such as applicant tracking systems, search engines, and social media platforms. Conversely, recruiters use tools such as interviews, assessments, and reference checks to evaluate candidates.

While sourcing and recruiting have different focuses, they are complementary functions within the hiring process. By building a solid pipeline of potential candidates through sourcing, recruiters can reduce the time it takes to fill job openings and ensure they have access to high-quality talent. Recruiters can then focus on engaging with those candidates and guiding them through the recruitment process.

Understanding the differences between sourcing and recruiting is critical to building a successful hiring strategy. By leveraging the unique strengths of each role and ensuring that they work together seamlessly, recruiters can attract and retain top talent and build strong teams within their organizations.

Sourcing vs. Recruiting: Make the Most of Both

In conclusion, sourcing and recruiting are two distinct yet essential components of the hiring process. By leveraging technology tools, optimizing search strategies, and building solid relationships with candidates, recruiters can create a successful hiring strategy that attracts and retains top talent.

Understanding the nuances of these roles and how they work together can help you build a streamlined recruitment process that attracts the best candidates and grows your business.

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