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Sourcer Career Guide

What is a sourcer?

A sourcer, often referred to as a talent sourcer or sourcing specialist, is a specialized talent acquisition professional who identifies, attracts, and engages potential candidates for job openings within an organization. The role of a sourcer is important in the recruiting process as they are responsible for building a robust pipeline of talented individuals for current and future hiring needs.

Sourcers play an instrumental role in proactively seeking out candidates through various methods, even before a position becomes open. They help the organization stay ahead in the competitive job market by ensuring the company always has a pool of qualified candidates to draw from when hiring needs arise.

Duties and responsibilities

A sourcer is responsible for searching for potential candidates using various methods such as online job boards, social media platforms, networking events, and databases. They identify and reach out to passive candidates who may not be actively seeking a new job but could be potential fits for open roles.

They also work closely with recruiters and hiring managers to understand job requirements and create a sourcing strategy. They are responsible for conducting initial screening of candidates, typically through phone or video calls, to assess their suitability before moving them forward in the recruitment process.

Sourcers play a role in employer branding efforts, helping to create a positive image of the company in the eyes of potential candidates. They also keep track of sourcing metrics to help improve strategies and recruitment outcomes.

Work environment

The work environment for a sourcer is typically an office setting, though many also work remotely. The role involves frequent use of computers and various software tools for sourcing, tracking, and communicating with potential candidates. It also requires strong interpersonal and communication skills as they interact with potential candidates, recruiters, hiring managers, and other stakeholders in the recruitment process.

Sourcing is a challenging role that requires creativity, excellent research skills, and a good understanding of job markets and hiring trends. It is also rewarding, as sourcers play a critical role in bringing talented individuals into the organization.

Typical work hours

Sourcers usually work full-time, with standard office hours from Monday to Friday. However, the nature of the role may sometimes require flexibility in work hours, especially when engaging with candidates in different time zones or attending networking events and job fairs outside of regular office hours. Additionally, when there are urgent hiring needs, sourcers may need to put in extra hours to ensure that a sufficient pool of candidates is identified promptly.

How to become a sourcer

Becoming a sourcer requires research abilities, networking skills, and an understanding of the hiring process. In this career guide section, we cover the steps you’ll need to follow: 

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree

Many employers require a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, psychology, or a related field. These programs provide a good understanding of people, businesses, and organizational behavior.

Step 2: Understand recruitment and sourcing strategies

Become familiar with different recruitment strategies and sourcing techniques to find potential candidates, such as social recruiting, Boolean searches, job boards, social media platforms, and networking events. Knowledge of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and HRIS systems can also be beneficial. Workshops, online courses, or on-the-job training help to gain understanding.

Here is a sample of some options available for continuing education:

Step 3: Develop strong communication and networking skills

Sourcers are often the first point of contact between potential candidates and an organization. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are needed for building and maintaining professional relationships.

Step 4: Gain experience in the HR field

Experience within the HR field, particularly in recruitment, can be valuable. Gain experience through internships, entry-level HR roles, or even volunteer work. Understand the recruitment process, learn to assess job applications, and get comfortable communicating with potential candidates.

Step 5: Consider obtaining a certification

While not necessary, HR or recruitment-related certifications can help enhance credibility and demonstrate commitment to the profession. Some well-recognized certifications include the AIRS Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR), the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from HR Certification Institute, and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).

Step 6: Apply for sourcer positions

Once you have a relevant degree, an understanding of recruitment and sourcing strategies, strong communication skills, HR experience, and potentially a certification, you’re ready to apply for sourcer jobs. Make sure your resume emphasizes relevant skills and experience. Prepare for interviews by familiarizing yourself with common sourcer interview questions and best practices.

How much do sourcers make?

A sourcer’s salary can be influenced by several factors. A bachelor’s degree is typically required, but those with higher degrees or certifications in Human Resources or a related field may command higher salaries. Experience also impacts income, with seasoned sourcers typically earning more.

The industry of work can significantly affect compensation, with sourcers in technology or finance sectors making more than those in non-profit or education sectors. Geographic location is another determinant, as areas with a higher cost of living or business concentration usually result in higher pay. Finally, the size of the company and the scale of its recruitment needs can affect a sourcer’s salary.

Highest paying industries

  • Information Technology and Services – $73,050
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises – $70,500
  • Finance and Insurance – $68,900
  • Manufacturing – $65,200
  • Healthcare and Social Assistance – $63,400

Highest paying states

  • New York – $70,600
  • California – $72,200
  • Massachusetts – $72,500
  • Washington – $71,870
  • Illinois – $69,100

Browse sourcer salary data by market

Types of sourcers

Sourcers are instrumental in the recruitment process, dedicated to identifying and engaging potential candidates for open positions. There’s a wealth of diversity in this role, allowing professionals to focus on different areas within the realm of sourcing. This career guide section will explore the various specializations within the sourcing profession.

Technical sourcer

Technical sourcers specialize in finding candidates for roles in the tech industry, such as software engineers, data scientists, and IT specialists. This work requires understanding technical jargon and qualifications to assess potential candidates’ skills and experience effectively.

Executive sourcer

Executive recruitment is a nuanced and careful endeavor because candidates must have unique skills, experience, and leadership abilities. Sourcers identify potential candidates for high-level positions, such as C-suite executives, directors, and senior managers. 

Diversity sourcer

Diversity sourcers need to identify and engage candidates from diverse backgrounds. The role is integral in promoting inclusivity and diversity within the workplace, contributing to equal opportunities for all, and fostering a vibrant, varied workforce.

Global sourcer

The increasingly globalized workforce takes advantage of worldwide talent. Global sourcers are well-versed in international hiring laws and customs and can successfully navigate the complexities of sourcing talent from different countries or cultures. 

Freelance sourcer

Freelance sourcers work independently, often serving multiple clients or companies. They provide sourcing services on a contract basis, offering flexibility for businesses that don’t require a full-time sourcer but still need assistance finding potential candidates.

Top skills for sourcers

Sourcers are the experts who uncover potential candidates for specific job openings. They are an integral part of any hiring process, using research skills, networking abilities, knowledge of recruitment tools and technologies, and understanding of the job market to locate and attract top talent. A proficient sourcer will find the best candidates before they even start looking for new opportunities, thereby providing a competitive edge in recruitment. 

Research skills

A sourcer’s primary role is identifying potential candidates for job vacancies. They must efficiently search various platforms like LinkedIn, job boards, and other online databases. A deep dive into candidates’ backgrounds and qualifications ensures a good fit. Solid research skills enable a sourcer to find high-quality candidates efficiently and quickly.

Networking abilities

Building and maintaining professional relationships can provide access to potential candidates who may not be actively searching but could be interested if approached with the right offer. Initiatives include attending industry events, utilizing social media, and leveraging existing relationships. Networking can significantly widen a sourcer’s candidate pool, increasing the chance of finding the perfect match for any role.

Knowledge of recruitment tools and technologies

With advancements in recruitment technology, sourcers now have a wide range of tools to streamline and enhance the sourcing process. Familiarity with various Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), professional networking platforms, and AI-powered sourcing tools is necessary. This knowledge helps a sourcer work more efficiently, automating specific tasks and utilizing data analytics to make more informed decisions.

Understanding of the job market

Sourcers need to understand the job market and trends in their specific industries. This includes which skills are in demand, what compensation packages are competitive, and where to find the best talent. Having a pulse on the market helps sourcers craft attractive job propositions and know where to concentrate efforts for maximum results. It also enables them to provide valuable insights to hiring managers and shape effective recruitment strategies.

Sourcer career path

The career path for a sourcer often starts with an entry-level position in human resources or recruitment, such as a HR assistant or recruitment coordinator. These roles provide a strong foundation in HR and talent acquisition.

Once the individual gains experience and develops skills in candidate searches, engagement, and initial screening, they may transition to a sourcer role. The focus is proactively identifying potential candidates for an organization’s open positions, typically by leveraging platforms like LinkedIn, job boards, and various sourcing tools.

With proven effectiveness in sourcing and a solid understanding of recruitment strategies, a sourcer can progress to a senior sourcer or sourcing team lead role. These positions involve more complex sourcing tasks, strategy development, and team management.

Eventually, a sourcer can advance to strategic roles within the recruitment field, such as a recruitment or talent acquisition manager. These roles typically oversee all aspects of hiring, including sourcing strategies and aligning talent acquisition with an organization’s goals. At the highest levels, positions like a director or vice president of talent acquisition become viable and include being responsible for a company’s entire recruitment strategy.

Sourcing has experienced considerable evolution as the professional landscape adapts to technological changes, demographics, and work patterns. Sourcers now leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools to identify potential candidates and better understand the talent market. These tools can automate some parts of the process, allowing sourcers to focus more on engaging with candidates and building relationships.

Another trend shaping the sourcing field is the growth of remote work. As companies become more comfortable with remote and flexible working arrangements, sourcers must expand their search beyond traditional geographic boundaries to global sourcing. This need requires a deep understanding of various markets and cultures.

Also, sourcers increasingly focus on diversity and inclusion in their recruitment strategies. They actively seek out underrepresented groups and ensure that the recruitment process is fair and unbiased. This effort aligns with the growing demand from organizations and society for a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Employment projections for sourcers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes sourcers under “Human Resources Specialists.” The overall employment in this category is projected to grow by 8% through 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. While the BLS does not provide specific data for sourcers, the rising importance of strategic hiring and the growing demand for diverse talent suggests a positive job outlook for this role. Those comfortable using advanced HR technologies and deeply understanding various industries and talent markets should see the best job prospects.

Sourcer career tips

Understand the business and its needs

A sourcer’s primary role is to find the best talent that fits the organization’s needs, which requires understanding the specific job roles and broader business objectives, such as the culture and future growth plans. By developing a deep understanding of a business, sourcers can identify candidates likely to thrive and make a meaningful contribution.

Leverage social media platforms

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are invaluable resources for sourcing candidates. Beyond posting job ads, it is important to actively seek out potential candidates, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions. This can help build a strong network, increase a company’s visibility among potential candidates, and uncover talent that isn’t actively looking. 

Master candidate assessment

Assessing candidate fit is a part of a sourcer’s role that involves evaluating a candidate’s skills, experience, and cultural fit within the organization. By mastering candidate assessment techniques, sourcers can ensure that candidates will likely succeed and contribute positively to the organization.

Harness technology and data

Mastering technology and data is essential for a sourcer in today’s digital age. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), AI-driven search tools, and other technologies can significantly enhance productivity and effectiveness. Furthermore, data analytics can help measure the effectiveness of sourcing strategies and make informed decisions.

Continuous learning

The recruitment landscape is continually evolving, and it’s essential to stay updated. Some ways to foster continuous learning include:

  • Attend recruitment-focused webinars and workshops
  • Keep up with the latest trends and technologies in recruitment
  • Learn about new sourcing techniques and tools
  • Participate in industry-specific forums and discussion groups

Build a professional network

Building a professional network helps sourcers connect with potential candidates, learn from their peers, and stay updated on industry trends. Here are some relevant professional associations and networks:

  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • Recruiting Brainfood Community
  • SourceCon
  • American Staffing Association (ASA)

Develop strong communication skills

Strong communication skills are a must for a sourcer. Effective communication can significantly enhance success in the role, whether engaging with potential candidates, liaising with hiring managers, or networking with industry professionals.

Uphold ethical recruiting practices

Sourcers must uphold ethical recruiting practices, including respecting candidate privacy, providing accurate and truthful information, and avoiding discriminatory practices. Maintaining ethics in recruitment legally protects the organization, helps build trust with candidates, and enhances the sourcer’s reputation. 

Where the sourcing jobs are

Top companies

  • Google
  • Robert Half
  • PepsiCo
  • Deloitte
  • Mayo Clinic

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Washington

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Upwork  


What qualifications are typically needed for a sourcer role?

A sourcer typically requires a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, or a related field. However, the most important qualifications are often experience in recruitment or HR, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and a strong understanding of recruitment processes and platforms. Knowledge of the specific recruiting industry can also be beneficial.

What skills are important for a sourcer?

A sourcer should possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills, as much of their job involves reaching out to potential candidates and building relationships. Research skills are also crucial for finding and identifying candidates who may not be actively job searching. Additionally, familiarity with recruiting software and social media platforms is usually necessary.

What are the typical duties of a sourcer?

The primary responsibility of a sourcer is to identify potential candidates for job openings within an organization. This often involves researching and networking on LinkedIn, industry-specific forums, and job boards. After identifying potential candidates, sourcers reach out to gauge interest and suitability. They also maintain a pipeline of candidates for future openings.

How does a sourcer differ from a recruiter?

While sourcers and recruiters play essential roles in the hiring process, they focus on different stages. A sourcer is primarily concerned with the early stages of the hiring process, including identifying potential candidates and encouraging them to consider opportunities with an organization. Conversely, a recruiter usually takes over once a candidate has shown interest, managing the interview process, negotiations, and onboarding.

What role does a sourcer play in diversity and inclusion?

A sourcer can play a significant role in promoting diversity and inclusion in an organization. By actively seeking out candidates from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented groups, sourcers can help to create a more diverse candidate pipeline. This can involve networking in specific communities, attending diversity job fairs, and challenging any unconscious bias in sourcing strategies.

How does a sourcer find potential candidates?

Sourcers use various methods to find potential candidates, including online research on LinkedIn, industry-specific forums, and job boards. They also may attend networking events or job fairs, look for potential candidates among attendees of relevant conferences or meetings, and seek referrals from current employees or other contacts.

How does a sourcer approach potential candidates?

A sourcer typically approaches potential candidates through an initial message or call. This communication usually introduces the organization and the job opportunity, highlights why the candidate may be a good fit, and invites the candidate to discuss the role further. The best approach is personalized, professional, and respectful of the candidate’s time and current employment situation.

What is the role of a sourcer in building a talent pipeline?

Sourcers identify and maintain relationships with potential candidates, even if there aren’t job openings that fit their skills. By building a pipeline, they create a pool of qualified candidates for future outreach. 

What strategies can a sourcer use to stay organized?

Sourcers often juggle multiple tasks and candidates, so staying organized is important. They might use applicant tracking systems (ATS) or customer relationship management (CRM) tools to keep track of candidate information and communication. Keeping detailed notes, setting follow-up reminders, and maintaining a transparent filing system for candidate data can also be helpful.

What challenges does a sourcer typically face?

Some common challenges sourcers face include finding qualified candidates for hard-to-fill roles, engaging passive candidates, and staying up-to-date with industry or job market changes. Other challenges include maintaining a diverse and inclusive candidate pipeline and balancing time between immediate hiring needs and long-term pipeline building.