Recruiter and Sourcer Relationship – A Love Story?

A few years ago, I worked in the biotech arena as a technical Sourcer.  Sourcing was relatively new corporately, and thus we made up many of our processes and procedures on the fly.  This “winging it” behavior included how and when I communicated with my Recruiter.

We didn’t have a Sourcer/Recruiter service level agreement. We didn’t have a playbook either. It was a grassroots type of situation where we let everything happen organically. The problem with relationships happening organically is you are not guaranteed success.

Fortunately, as a Sourcer, I had an experienced Recruiter who saw the value of a great Recruiter and Sourcer relationship, even when I didn’t.


The Progression

I was distant with my Recruiter at first.  As a Sourcer, I coveted my candidates and was unwilling to release the relationship over to the recruiter, for fear they wouldn’t give my passive candidate the time or attention I could. But my Recruiter insisted on building a healthy collaboration.  She involved me in meetings, required weekly one on ones, and discussed each candidate submitted.  That part was painful.  Sourcers don’t always get complete information, and to hear feedback based upon limited job data seemed unfair.  Didn’t she realize how hard I was trying?

At Christmas my Recruiter sent me candy. Then, on my birthday she sent me flowers.  She was committed to making sure we were in sync and that we had a united front with the hiring managers. But I wanted to work alone.

All in all, I did not make life easy for her. If I am being honest, it wasn’t until I left the organization that I fully appreciated the Recruiter’s professionalism and conscious effort to make us both look good.  But over time, we became a known partnership within the organization.  We were a powerhouse Recruiter and Sourcer duo that was revered by our peers. I have her to thank for that.


Mutual Respect and Problem Solving

Change is hard.  Humility is hard.  Servant-hood is hard. The Recruiter and Sourcer relationship is a marriage.  One can’t look good without the other.  The Recruiter must respect the effort and commitment it takes for a Sourcer to successfully woo a passive candidate into applying online.

The process from lead to applicant can take months. And the Sourcer must remember that the Recruiter is dealing with multiple responsibilities that include demanding hiring managers, and what I call tweaking and swizzling.  You know what I mean, sometimes the stars must be in alignment for a candidate to accept a job offer.

The best relationships refuse to finger point. They solve problems together. Does this sound like an envious relationship? It should. We should strive for a Recruiter and Sourcer relationship that is seamless, keeping the focus on fulfilling the needs of the candidate and hiring manager.


Steps to a Successful Recruiter / Sourcer Relationship

Have a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

The service level agreement is a written document that serves as a contract between the Recruiter and Sourcer.  It dictates transaction times meant to alleviate disappointment in expectations.  Anything that can be measured can be in a SLA, but I suggest tracking the time it takes to receive a Sourcing request, the time it takes from sourcing to first candidate submission, how often the Recruiter and Sourcer meet, and how long it takes to get feedback on a submission.


Communication is a weighted word.  Don’t underestimate the need to have agreed upon connection points between Recruiter and Sourcer.  Should the Sourcer come to the intake meeting? Should you have a weekly reoccurring meeting to discuss each candidate?  The touch-points need to be formal and placed on a calendar or they are easily overlooked when times get busy.  Two-way communication is the single most important part of having a successful Recruiter and Sourcer relationship.  As in any coupling, don’t be afraid to have hard conversations and challenge each other.  When we appreciate and understand each other’s situation, we become compassionate and freer to offer grace.

Monitor with Data.

We should be able to measure the amount of time it takes for a Recruiter to submit a sourced candidate to the hiring manager. We should be able to measure the time it takes for a Recruiter to receive feedback, and for the time it takes to get that feedback back to the Sourcer.  These are all measurable units of time. Use the data to communicate with your hiring manager about missed chances, or to share between Recruiter and Sourcer as areas of opportunity.


In summary, building a strong foundation between the recruiter and sourcer is so important to help keep the process consistent and our work lives fulfilled.

What can you do to improve the relationship with your recruiter or sourcer?  Challenge yourself this week.  Happy Hunting.

Christine Hampton

Christine is a Doctor of Business Administration candidate researching talent sourcing strategies in healthcare. This is Christine's 29th year in Talent Acquisition, with the last 9 years focusing on sourcing and recruitment marketing.