Defining Research and Sourcing

Posted on May 26th, by Sourcing Ninja in Featured, Knowledge Base. No Comments

"Magic Book With Business Concept And Graph"/jannoon028/

“Magic Book With Business Concept And Graph” by jannoon028 /

I first started writing this article way back when and at the time I knew I didn’t quite have enough experience under my belt to make a good judgement call on this. I needed to speak to more people, have experience in different roles, have exposure to how this distinction was being defined in different organisations. All I can say is that there’s too much hype around the expectations of a sourcer or researcher and the commercial value is not always considered especially when you’re mixing up the two terms.

“The Wizard of Oz (1939)” by Insomnia Cured Here / Flikr

“We can do what?”

So let’s try to set the record straight. Research and sourcing go hand-in-hand and there is a difference between the two in the context of your approach to finding candidates. There is also a difference between ‘proactive sourcing’ and ‘comprehensive search’ when considering your thoroughness in finding candidates.


Approach to Finding Candidates:

The way I see it, ‘Research’ is the preamble to ‘Sourcing’.

It is the fact finding investigation you conduct prior to straight up database mining (let’s face it, it’s true for 90% of us working in the private sector apart from posting ads) for names. You do this to help map out the market, understand it’s ecosystem – how it works and from there identify target organisations from which to hunt from.

Database mining or the act of actually finding suitable candidates.

In recent times, I’ve resorted to the example of a search I conducted for ‘Social Media Data Analysts’. Long story short, I conducted research to identify the organisations that had social listening command centres where these individuals would be housed, what they did, what tools they used, etc then I did some sourcing to help identify those people within those target organisations.



Proactive sourcing, the quick and dirty way of finding talent.


Thoroughness in Finding Candidates:

You can do sourcing without research if you know the market well enough or if you want to just bang out strings and hope for the best. You can also do research for the sake of research and it can be time consuming.

Proactive Sourcing (Sourcing):
Using whatever means to identify potentially suitable candidates. Usually the act of database mining using a few choice strings for your keywords and job titles or generic ‘intitle’ boolean strings in search engines.

Comprehensive Search (Research + Sourcing):
Taking a methodical approach of mapping out the market, getting a full understanding of the role and business – how each plays a part in the wider ecosystem, identifying key competitors and likely target organisations that would have the skillsets you want. From there, doing your sourcing to identify the relevant individuals.


So there you have it. Research vs. Sourcing. Proactive Sourcing vs. Comprehensive Search. Questions, comments, or flat out rebuttals are welcome in the comments section below.

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