August 28, 2023
August 29, 2023

The Difference Between Tactical and Strategic Sourcing

Hanna-Mirtel Paas

In the dynamic landscape of modern business, sourcing stands as a pivotal pillar in the talent acquisition process. As organisations strive to attract and retain the best-suited candidates, the strategies employed can make all the difference. Tactical and strategic sourcing - two distinct approaches that wield significant influence in the field of recruitment. By shedding light on the nuances that set these approaches apart, this exploration aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of when, why, and how organisations might choose between them, ultimately shaping the trajectory of their recruitment success.

Understanding Tactical Sourcing 

Tactical sourcing entails a dynamic approach centered on fulfilling short-term staffing needs promptly. It involves the strategic acquisition of qualified candidates to address immediate talent gaps within an organisation.

The core objective of tactical sourcing is twofold: cost-efficient hiring and streamlined recruitment operations.

Companies employing tactical sourcing methods prioritise swift outcomes, aiming to swiftly identify, engage, and onboard candidates who can quickly contribute to the organisation's objectives.

For example, a tech startup experiencing sudden project expansion may opt for tactical sourcing to rapidly secure skilled developers for an upcoming software launch. Similarly, a retail chain seeking seasonal staff to meet heightened holiday demand leverages tactical sourcing to efficiently scale up its workforce. These instances underscore how tactical sourcing in recruitment promptly addresses pressing staffing needs while maintaining a focus on optimising recruitment expenses.

Exploring Strategic Sourcing

Strategic sourcing embodies a comprehensive and forward-looking methodology that goes beyond immediate hiring needs. It involves a holistic approach to talent acquisition, intricately aligned with an organisation's overall business strategy.

Central to strategic sourcing in recruitment is the cultivation of robust, mutually beneficial relationships with talent suppliers, which might include staffing agencies, professional networks, and educational institutions.

Unlike tactical sourcing, where cost is the primary focus, strategic sourcing places equal emphasis on aspects such as candidate quality, long-term potential, and innovative capabilities. For instance, a multinational corporation seeking to establish itself as an industry leader might engage in strategic sourcing by building partnerships with top universities to tap into emerging talent. Similarly, a healthcare institution aiming to provide cutting-edge patient care might strategically source specialised medical professionals with unique skill sets.

Key Differences Between Tactical and Strategic Sourcing

Tactical and strategic sourcing diverge significantly, shaping the landscape of talent acquisition.

Let's delve into these distinctions:


1. Time Horizon: Short-term vs. Long-term

  • Tactical Sourcing quick response to immediate staffing needs.
  • Strategic Sourcing aligns with long-term business goals and growth.

2. Scope: Operational Efficiency vs. Overall Business Goals

  • Tactical Sourcing focuses on rapidly filling specific roles for operational efficiency.
  • Strategic Sourcing encompasses a broader view, contributing to the achievement of overall organisational objectives.

3. Recruiter Relationships: Transactional vs. Collaborative

  • Tactical Sourcing transactional interactions with recruitment agencies based on cost.
  • Strategic Sourcing fosters collaborative partnerships for shared objectives.

4. Factors Considered: Cost vs. Quality, Innovation, and Risk Management

  • Tactical Sourcing emphasis on cost-effective solutions.
  • Strategic Sourcing considers candidate quality, innovation potential, and risk management in addition to cost.

Achieving a Balance: Integrating Tactical and Strategic Sourcing

Embracing the Synergy

Understanding how both approaches can complement each other in the dynamic practice of recruitment, the symbiotic relationship between tactical and strategic sourcing becomes evident.

Tactical sourcing efficiently handles immediate needs, swiftly securing candidates with transactional precision. Meanwhile, strategic sourcing takes the long view, aligning with organisational goals to build a robust talent pipeline. By acknowledging the intrinsic harmony between these methodologies, recruiters can leverage their combined power to enhance the overall recruitment process in your company. 

Crafting a Hybrid Sourcing Strategy

The evolution of recruitment practices calls for a novel approach – a hybrid sourcing strategy. This dynamic fusion captures the agility of tactical sourcing while embracing the foresight of strategic sourcing. Through this innovative blend, recruiters can swiftly address short-term talent gaps without losing sight of long-term talent acquisition objectives. The result is a flexible and responsive recruitment framework that adapts to the changing landscape of talent acquisition.

Realising Success Through Examples

The success of integrating tactical and strategic sourcing is vividly illustrated through real-world case studies. These stories demonstrate how organisations have harnessed the synergy between these sourcing methodologies to achieve remarkable recruitment outcomes. From swiftly filling critical positions to cultivating a future-ready workforce, these instances highlight the transformative potential of a harmonised approach. By delving into these cases, recruiters can draw inspiration and insights to orchestrate their own seamless integration journey.

The convergence of tactical and strategic sourcing emerges as a compelling strategy. By embracing their interdependence, creating innovative hybrids, and drawing wisdom from exemplars, recruiters can master the art of balanced and effective talent acquisition.

  1. Leverage Advanced Technology: Embrace AI-powered tools, machine learning algorithms, and automation platforms to streamline candidate sourcing. These technologies can help identify and engage with potential candidates more efficiently, saving time and resources.
  2. Data-Driven Insights: Utilise data analytics to gain insights into the effectiveness of your sourcing strategies. Analyse metrics such as source of hire, time-to-fill, and cost-per-hire to optimise your approach and make informed decisions. 
  3. Candidate-Centric Approach: Focus on creating personalised and meaningful interactions with candidates. Tailor your outreach to address their specific needs, skills, and aspirations, enhancing the candidate experience and improving your chances of attracting top talent.
  4. Innovative Sourcing Channels: Explore new and innovative sourcing channels beyond traditional job boards. Consider platforms like social media, industry-specific forums, virtual career fairs, and networking events to tap into a diverse pool of candidates. Read about using GitHub as a sourcing tool.
  5. Passive Candidate Engagement: Engage with passive candidates who may not be actively looking for new opportunities but possess valuable skills. Build relationships over time by sharing industry insights, thought leadership, and relevant content.
  6. Diversity and Inclusion: Prioritise diversity and inclusion in your sourcing efforts. Actively seek out candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to create a more inclusive workforce that brings diverse perspectives to your organisation.
  7. Employer Branding: Cultivate a strong employer brand to attract candidates who resonate with your company culture and values. Highlight employee testimonials, company achievements, and unique benefits to differentiate your organisation from competitors.
  8. Collaboration with Hiring Managers: Foster close collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers. Regularly communicate to ensure alignment on job requirements, candidate profiles, and feedback, resulting in more accurate and efficient sourcing.
  9. Continuous Learning: Stay updated on the latest sourcing trends and techniques through workshops, webinars, conferences, and online resources. Adapting to the ever-changing recruitment landscape is crucial for sustained success.
  10. Agility and Flexibility: Remain adaptable to market shifts and changing candidate preferences. Adjust your sourcing strategies as needed to ensure they remain effective in different economic and social contexts.
  11. Ethical Sourcing: Practice ethical sourcing by respecting candidate privacy, providing transparent communication, and ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process.
  12. Global Sourcing: Embrace the opportunity to source talent from a global pool. Remote work and virtual collaboration have made it easier to tap into talent from different geographic locations.

By incorporating these best practices into your sourcing strategy, you can enhance your ability to attract, engage, and hire top-quality candidates in the dynamic and competitive landscape of 2023.

Ready to optimise your recruitment sourcing strategy? Discover the power of tactical and strategic sourcing approaches and how they can elevate your talent acquisition game. Get Acelr8 onboard to unlock the insights and expertise you need to navigate the dynamic landscape of tactical and strategic sourcing. Contact us today and let's embark on a journey to source, engage, and hire the best candidates for your company's success.

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