“When should you hire a Sourcer?”
A founder once posted this question to a VC network, and I (as is my custom) replied quickly and vehemently that a Sourcer (someone responsible for finding and reaching out to potential candidates) might not be the best resource at any time when compared to other potential additions to their recruiting team of one, such as another Recruiter or a Coordinator.
Companies seem to be building internal recruiting teams at earlier stages than ever before. This is awesome; when our clients invest in their recruiting teams it almost always leads to a faster hiring process, better candidate experience, and improved employee retention (and employer brand). The question of how to scale comes up often, and hiring a Sourcer is a low-cost way to addresses small pipelines, lack of candidates making it to final stages, or an anticipated increase in recurring hiring needs (due to growth and/or retention).
When I shot off my quick reply I was trying to highlight the administrative time costs associated with moving candidates through the pipeline, and how those costs can get compounded by hiring a Sourcer that focuses on adding volume to the top of the pipeline. I suggested that hiring a Coordinator instead would ease that burden so their Recruiter has time to find better candidates. Unfortunately when I wrote that I'd completely ignored my last experience hiring someone to source; in my defense, he was so good that he wasn't a Sourcer for very long. I'd also missed the point that you don't hire a Sourcer to increase the volume of candidates at the top of the funnel (though this may still happen), you hire them to increase the overall quality of the candidates at the top of the funnel, because they add directly sourced talent to the mix of inbounds, referrals, agency submittals, and those sourced by the recruiter.
With that in mind, we set up a little thought experiment using previous experience, as well as basic interview stages and round numbers to make the math easier. The goal was to see just how much of an impact a Sourcer can have, compared to a Coordinator, on the amount of time a Recruiter needs to spend on administrative duties associated with filling an open role.
In this paragraph we set up the parameters and assumptions of our model; we made it one big and bulky block of text so that it's easy to skip over if you aren't interested (you can head straight to the graph below to see the results). First, for our pipeline we assume that it takes 50 active candidates (inbounds, referrals, and sourced) to make a hire; 50% of that group will receive a screen with a Recruiter, 30% will get a first round interview with a hiring manager/interviewer, 15% will be asked to complete a project, 5% will be invited in for a final round, and 2% (1/50) will receive an offer. Second, we assume that there’s a fixed time cost to the recruiter at each stage of the interview process. The initial screen can take up to 30 minutes, scheduling the first round interview and collecting feedback after can each take 5 minutes (10 total), coordinating the project and answering questions can take another 5 minutes, and scheduling the final round can take another 15 minutes (this can be really optimistic) along with a 10 minute check-in call with the candidate (25 total). Candidates that participate in a first round interview, complete the project, or come in for a final round but are ultimately dispositioned deserve a call with feedback which can take another 5 minutes. Third, the Sourcer we hire will improve the quality of the candidates within the mix, and as a result, we won’t be looking at what happens if candidate quality drops below the pre-Sourcer level (let us know if you'd like to cover the cost of a bad hire in later posts!). This has two effects, it increases the percentage of candidates that get interviewed and make it to later stages (a function of the improvement in candidate quality), and it also decreases the total number of candidates needed in order to fill an open role (an inverse function of the improvement in candidate quality). Fourth, we aren’t considering wild card variables like finding amazing one-off candidates, candidates dropping out of the process, or last minute-reschedules. We have a mix of strong and weak active candidates from our different channels, and the goal is to find the best in that sample group. Finally, we’re only at the time cost associated with the interview process, and we aren’t considering the additional time that goes into the Recruiter’s sourcing, research, reporting, or reading about secret gif commands for Slack.
This is what it looks like!
Based on our starting point, the screening and administrative time costs the recruiter an average of 21.45 minutes per active candidate (including those we chose not to advance to a Recruiter screen), and a total of 1,072.5 minutes in order to fill an open role. If we hire a Coordinator to take over the administrative responsibilities of scheduling candidates and coordinating feedback we can reduce the Recruiter's time cost per candidate to 16.95 minutes, and 847.5 minutes per open role, giving us our target. In order to beat my initial assumption (hire a Coordinator, don't hire a Sourcer) we need to get the Recruiter's administrative time cost to fill an open role below 847.5. As you might expect, as long as the Sourcer is improving candidate quality we see an increase in the amount of time spent per active candidate in the pool, but we also see a reduction in the time cost it takes to fill an open role thanks to the relationship between candidate quality and total active candidates needed. As we see in the graph, once the candidate quality improves by roughly 45.6% the Recruiter has the same time cost to fill an opening with the help of a Sourcer as it does with the help of a Coordinator. If you could actually see that exact number in the graph please call us.
So to answer the original question, if you have the resources to add a head, and have enough recurring hiring needs to keep everyone busy (again, let us know if you want us to cover this), then you should hire a Sourcer as soon as you find a good one. It is absolutely reasonable to expect them to improve the overall candidate quality by at least 50%, and the quality should continue to go up as they get more experience and mentorship. This is also a great example of the impact that a good hire can make on your business.
Interestingly, Sourcers also make about 45% to 50% of what your average internal Recruiter makes. In our next blog post, we'll cover how cost-effective it is to hire a Sourcer compared to hiring a Coordinator or leaving the team as is and not hiring anyone. Will my original assumption about Coordinators be redeemed, or will I get an "I told you so" email from a former head of finance?
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