A recruiter is typically the person who talks with job candidates and screens them. They are the "gate keepers" for the hiring managers.
Employers hire recruiters to find the right people to fill open jobs. Notice who the recruiters work for -- not job seekers.
Because recruiters are paid by employers, they focus on pleasing their boss (or client in the case of external recruiters).
While all recruiters work for employers, not all recruiters are employees of the employer who has the open job.
Many do work only for one employer (their employer), but many others are either independent (running their own recruiting business) or employed by a recruiting agency or staffing firm.
These recruiters are employees of the employer with the open jobs, usually part of the employer's Human Resources organization. They are also known as "in-house recruiters" or "corporate recruiters."
These recruiters are not employees of the employer with the job openings. They work for themselves or someone else and are often called "agency recruiters." External recruiters are classified into one of two categories, based on how they are compensated for the efforts:
Many recruiters help job seekers, but it is important to remember that they are paid by the employer, not by the job seeker. So, their primary goal and loyalty is to that employer.
A sourcer is a researcher who identifies possible qualified job candidates, typically via the Internet. Sourcers use search engines and other tools to find "passive" job candidates - people who are employed and not apparently looking for new jobs.
Sourcers provide the recruiters with the names, contact information, and details of qualified candidates. They don't usually contact job candidates directly.
Read Hannah Morgan's article "Get 'Sourced' to Get Hired" for more information about how to be discovered by sourcers, even if you are not a passive job candidate.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management since 2012, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.