What is direct sourcing?

How to use direct sourcing to find the right candidates and fill your open roles

Direct sourcing is the practice of finding job seekers for open positions using in-house personnel and methods.

Companies tend to prefer direct sourcing over other sourcing strategies because it allows them to build their own talent pools, highlight their employer brand in all communications, and exert more control over the sourcing process. Advances in direct sourcing solutions have leveled the playing field and enabled smaller companies to compete with larger, resource-backed companies to attract the best candidates.

The popularity of direct sourcing initiatives hinges on their compatibility with high volume, scalable, repeatable, and seasonal hiring practices.

Direct sourcing vs. third-party sourcing


Sourcing can be one of the most time-consuming and costly tasks in recruiting. Many companies don’t have a fully-staffed recruiting team and therefore need to rely on a third-party agency to source candidates on their behalf.

Although third-party sourcing requires less effort on the part of in-house staff and allows recruiters to cast a wider net and reach applicants they might not otherwise connect with, this practice consumes much of companies’ recruitment budgets. Recruitment teams with less to spend may find direct sourcing to be a more cost-efficient way to find candidates for open roles.

Why companies prefer direct sourcing

Despite some of the advantages of third-party sourcing, many companies prefer to use direct sourcing methods to build their own pool of candidates. Why?


Direct sourcing is often faster than going through a third party as it involves fewer parties to move applicants along.


When done strategically, direct sourcing with your own in-house recruiting team can be much more cost-effective than outsourcing to a third party.


Direct sourcing allows recruiting teams to infuse their own employer brand in their sourcing efforts and make changes to their strategy at the moment they’re needed.

Challenges in the direct sourcing process

Direct sourcing has its benefits, but it also has its challenges. When devising your direct sourcing strategy, you may encounter the following roadblocks.


Channel management and activity

When you perform your own sourcing, you have to stay on top of your listings, communications, and candidates. This can be tough for smaller recruiting teams that don’t have enough staff to keep up with multiple listings and hundreds or even thousands of applications.


Implementing and managing your own direct sourcing process can put a strain on any recruiting budget. But once you get up and running, you’ll see long-term gains from sourcing in-house as opposed to relying on outside help.


Your sourcing strategy may start small, but as your business grows, you may find your recruiting needs grow, as well. If your sourcing solution can’t scale with your business growth, you’ll find yourself stuck.

Data collection and analysis

Monitoring your application process to see if and where delays exist means you’ll be able to formulate a solution to fix what’s not working. Data and analytics can provide clear answers to what may be preventing applicants from moving through the pipeline quickly.

Direct sourcing strategies for high volume hiring

When you hire the right people, you’ll notice your company’s productivity pick up, which can boost your bottom line. You also might notice a more positive work culture, which can affect morale and keep workers around longer.

On the other hand, if your sourcing efforts bring in the wrong candidates, you may end up wasting time and even losing out on business opportunities.

To make sure you’re on the right side of your sourcing strategy, you need to build a program that revolves around the ideal candidate you want to hire.

Here are a few direct sourcing strategies to help you get started.

Diversify your sourcing channels

As mentioned, there are multiple channels you can use to source candidates. The important thing is to find the channels that can help you find workers who are most qualified for your roles. This can be done via industry-specific recruiting sites or, if your requirements aren’t as specific, through larger, more generic job sites.

Choose mobile-friendly platforms

A mobile-first sourcing solution can help you reach candidates wherever they are and at any time of the day. Plus, the ability for applicants to apply to your openings right from their mobile devices can be a huge incentive to apply.

Use technology and tools to facilitate the process

The adage “work smarter, not harder” applies here. Lean into the advancements in HR tech to help you manage your sourcing process.

Automate wherever possible

Manually sorting candidates or using antiquated processes are surefire ways to waste and set yourself up for errors. Automating manual stages helps drastically reduce time-to-hire and frees up recruiters’ schedules so they can focus on other tasks.

Frequently test and refine your workflows

Enlist the help of a robust data and analytics system that can deliver high-value insights and a detailed analysis of your hiring process, including stage metrics, hire rates, and conversion rates.

Channels for direct sourcing

Recruiting teams that want to experiment with direct sourcing can use one of a number of channels to do so. These channels should be able to manage a high volume of candidates, handle high levels of activity, and target candidates with the right qualifications.

Common direct sourcing channels include (but are not limited to) the following:



Online marketplaces where you can shop for goods and services can also be viable places to search for talent. For broader reach, recruiters can use marketplaces like Indeed, or for a more narrow, specific applicant pool, consider using an industry- or skills-specific site.

Social channels

Recruiters can use their own social accounts like LinkedIn to reach job seekers in their professional and personal networks.

Free job boards

Jobs boards like Craigslist that allow free job postings can be a cost-saving option for recruiting teams.

How AI and applicant tracking systems improve direct sourcing

Implementing direct sourcing best practices will give you limited results if you don’t make use of the right technology. An applicant tracking system (ATS) uses automation to help you improve the most important sourcing and hiring metrics by removing the need for manual processes, like sending messages to candidates or moving candidates through the funnel yourself.

With an ATS as part of your direct sourcing strategy, you’ll be able to build a pipeline of talented and qualified individuals who are ready to work and reduce the likelihood of a staff shortage in the future.

An ATS can manage the full sourcing process using the features and functions below, making it a breeze for applicants to become candidates and, eventually, new hires.

Build a talent pipeline

By storing applications of job seekers who didn’t receive an offer the first time around, you can revisit their profiles in your system and reach out when a new opening becomes available.

Workflows and stages

Allocate different workflows for every job you post, ensuring consistency across the board.


Conduct background checks and other pre-employment screening requirements automatically.


Integrate seamlessly with other sourcing and recruitment tools, like electronic signature software and background check providers, to build an end-to-end recruitment solution.

Fountain’s approach to direct sourcing at volume


When it comes to sourcing, Fountain uses the above features (and more) to help businesses like yours effectively attract the right candidates and cater to applicants who are looking for jobs in specific industries.

With Fountain, amplify your sourcing strategy through:

  • Communication. Fountain’s messaging capabilities through SMS and WhatsApp allow recruiters to reach candidates in a way that’s convenient for both parties.
  • Automation. When figuring out how to recruit great employees fast, factor as much automation as possible into the hiring process. Fountain automates where you need it, from communication to scheduling interviews.
  • Customization. In Fountain, you can filter and keep tabs on applicants, and you have full flexibility to tweak the hiring process according to your needs.

Regardless of the size of your business and how many roles you need to fill, an optimized ATS is your best friend in the sourcing game.