What is Direct Source Recruiting?

Companies need workers. Things are, unfortunately, not as simple as they once were. Talent acquisition has changed quite a bit in the last few years. Even veteran talent acquisition specialists are concerned, saying they can’t remember the last time hiring was this hard. 

Not only are candidate expectations and mindsets changing rapidly, but reactive methods of recruitment are no longer effective. Companies cannot simply place a job ad and wait for the applications to roll in, not anymore. Melissa Thompson, Ford Motor Co. Global Head of Talent, told SHRM, “this is a different candidate than we had in 2020.”

How can companies take a more strategic and meaningful approach to finding and engaging candidates?  How can you attract the right candidates and meet your hiring needs? Direct sourcing is a strategic, cost-effective way to bring in top talent. Whether you’re looking for full-time employees, contingent candidates, freelancers, or temporary staff, direct sourcing can help connect you to high quality, in-demand talent.  

Direct sourcing strategies not only help you attract active candidates but engage with passive candidates. With 70% of the global workforce comprised of passive candidates, it’s important that you are actively recruiting this type of talent. With direct sourcing, through referrals and recruitment marketing, you can attract and engage passive candidates. 


What is Direct Sourcing?

In the simplest terms, direct sourcing is when a company sources their talent directly—a little on the nose, we know. Essentially, they do not use third-party recruiters or headhunters, instead keeping things either in-house, through a technology that provides direct sourcing capabilities, or engaging with a managed services provider (MSP). A direct sourcing strategy allows an organization to build its own internal pool of current and former employees, contingent workers, freelancers, and temporary talent. 

Typically, direct sourcing is only used when there is an open position to fill, though some companies actively recruit and keep candidates on their back bench for future projects. It transitions companies away from the more reactive recruiting and toward more proactive strategies which are an “almost requirement” in today’s hyper-competitive market. 

Today’s talent acquisition has changed dramatically. Not only do you need to focus on proactive recruiting, but there is a need to tap into previously overlooked pools of candidates. Unknown talent pools, often referred to as “hidden” pools of talent, occur because many recruiters focus their attention on what candidates don’t have instead of what they can bring to the table. 

There are over 27 million “hidden” workers in the U.S. By integrating these overlooked candidates into your direct source strategy, you can overcome talent deficits and build even more diverse pools of talent that suit your needs.

Benefits of Direct Sourcing

Though it may seem time-consuming to take the recruiting and hiring process in-house, there are many benefits to direct sourcing for your organization and, oftentimes, this can be done via a partner to limit bandwidth issues. It is actually more cost-effective and can be more efficient than other methods of recruiting. If you don’t want to take things completely in-house, many organizations instead go through their managed services provider (MSP). Though it may be slightly less cost-effective, it is often still much more cost-efficient and streamlined than traditional third-party methods. Direct Sourcing services providers, sometimes an MSP, can also extend your network and include critical, diverse suppliers. 

What benefits will a company reap if they choose to direct source?


  • Time. See a shorter time-to-interview and time-to-hire
  • Cost. Lower cost-per-hire than candidates sourced outside the company
  • Candidate Experience. Stronger talent pool management allows for more personalized experiences
  • Brand. More on-brand recruitment and more control over brand-specific messaging
  • Reach. Candidates can enter talent pools by being referred in or joining directly


The World of Work is Changing: Change With It

The downside to hiring in-house through direct sourcing strategies is the lack of knowledge many internal hiring managers may have about today’s talent landscape, which is why many still choose to outsource to an MSP. Things are hyper-competitive and talent has the upper hand. The World of Work is changing rapidly, if you want to successfully direct source your candidates, then you need to change with it. 

COVID may have been a catalyst, but the Great Resignation would likely have come anyway. A recent survey found that 65% of employees are currently looking for a new job with nearly nine in ten (88%) of execs surveyed saying they are seeing higher than normal turnover. 

Mindsets are changing rapidly and with the control today’s talent has thanks to the deficits organizations are facing, they’ll need to adapt to the wants and needs of their employees, both current and potential. 

What exactly does that mean? The top reasons for leaving according to that survey were:


  • Wages/Salaries: 41%
  • Flexibility: 34%
  • Career Advancements: 33%
  • Benefits: 23%



It is time for organizations to focus on what the candidates want. As you build out your employee value proposition (EVP) and your job descriptions, you need to keep those expectations, wants, and needs in mind. So, what do candidates want?

Transparency. Half of today’s candidates are frustrated with the lack of transparency in the recruitment and hiring process. They want to understand the process and the expectations from the beginning. 

Career Growth. As shown above, a lack of career development is cited as a top reason employees are leaving companies. With a move towards remote or hybrid work environments, organizations will have to move away from the mentality that in-office workers are more deserving of career advancement. 

Flexibility. Gartner found that 75% of hybrid or remote knowledge workers note an increase in their flexibility expectations. They also found that organizations insisting on full on-site work arrangements can expect to risk up to 39% of their workforces. Even in a post-pandemic world, 65% of candidates want remote work options. Flexible work and flexible work environments were a top reason to stay with an employer by 76%

DE&I. Though DE&I has always been a concern, it has become a critical factor in employment decisions. Many candidates and current employees are evaluating companies, not only on their DE&I initiatives, but how much they actually follow through. According to a recent study, half of employees feel their companies could be doing more in terms of DE&I. 

Build a Solid Direct Sourcing Strategy

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but you do need to have a solid direct sourcing strategy in place if you plan to utilize direct sourcing solutions

Utilize Direct Sourcing Platforms

Direct sourcing platforms provide all the benefits of direct sourcing, plus data. Often AI-driven, these platforms integrate advanced technologies into your recruitment strategy and simplify things even further. WorkLLama provides:  

  • Automation. Our AI-driven platform helps you automate processes saving time, money, and resources. 
  • Organization. Organize your strategy and your candidates in one easy-to-use platform with our total talent acquisition and engagement suite. 
  • Branding. Any part of our platform that is candidate-facing can be branded for your company. Keep your recruiting on-brand and consistent with a few clicks. 
  • Candidate Vetting. With our AI-driven hiring process, you can automatically vet and credential candidates to ensure they suit your needs.  
  • Talent Pooling. Dynamic talent pooling allows you to segment your candidates based on a number of criteria for a more personalized experience that can lead to more hires.

Talent Marketing

Talent marketing includes the recruitment marketing in the pre-applicant phase and the ongoing engagement once they’ve entered your system. It promotes engagement and can lead to better outcomes with lower times and lower costs. Talent marketing is an essential part of a proactive recruitment strategy. Dynamically pool candidates, engage with talent at every step of the candidate journey, and ensure that you’re hiring the right talent for the role.

WorkLLama’s platform can deliver on your direct sourcing strategy with minimal time commitment for our customers, quick implementation, and zero training or change management of internal resources. 

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