Overcoming the Challenges of Direct Sourcing in Recruitment

Direct sourcing is an effective contingent recruitment strategy, which can result in reduced recruitment costs, quicker time-to-hire and better long-term engagement with freelancers, consultants and independent contractors.

However, adopting a direct sourcing strategy is complex and there are number of challenges to address. The good news is technology now offers a solution.

In this guide:

Understanding your existing private talent pools and your readiness for directly sourcing contingent workers

Before including the direct sourcing of contingent workers as part of your overall talent strategy, you need to understand the status quo and, essentially, your readiness to start resourcing projects directly from your private talent pools.

For most large organisations this poses the first serious challenge to direct sourcing. In many cases, contingent workers are managed in silos. Engagement and management of contingent contracts is distributed throughout the organisation, with no central point of visibility. In the most severe cases, MS Excel workbooks saved to individual line managers’ computers provide the only record of where and how a contingent worker is engaged.

Creating a single view of your existing private talent pool is essential to understand your readiness for a serious direct sourcing strategy. With clear visibility, provided by a central software platform, you can assess where you have skills and availability, where you need to bring in reinforcements, the high-performing incumbents you want to retain, and the underperforming who require further investigation.

Moving your direct sourcing activity into a new system

"If we implement new on-demand workforce management software, will our existing freelancers and contractors use it?". It's fair question. Attracting and engaging good contractors is hard, expensive, work so it's reasonable to be cautious when introducing new or different systems.

The key to successful adoption is about making the new system easier than the existing legacy processes. This means easier onboarding, easier project briefing, easier milestone management, easier reporting.

Delivering a better user-experience is where new, modern, on-demand workforce software like TalonFMS makes significant improvements. Intelligent, automated, processes take the heavy-lifting and manual workload away from these key interactions between the organisation and the contingent worker. For example, onboarding wizards can be created to guide both the hiring manager and the contingent worker step-by-step through a compliant onboarding process.

Attracting new contingent talent as part of your direct sourcing strategy

It's almost certain your existing private talent pools of contingent workers will need supplementing with new skills or a few extra pairs of hands.

There's no avoiding the fact that attracting new contingent talent to your private talent pools requires effort and attention. To successfully deliver a direct sourcing strategy, the following areas are just some of what needs to be considered and managed with a very contingent-focused mindset:

Employer brand, with consideration for freelancers, consultants and independent contractors

Smart organisations understand attracting the right people means building a brand, a reputation, and a way of operating that's appealing to the best and brightest. However, this is often primarily focused on permanent employees. Whilst people are generally looking for the same ticks in Maslow's boxes, freelancers and contractors will have some very specific requirements. For example, a major draw for a freelancer could be improved invoice payment terms or bonus payments connected to early milestone delivery.

Marketing and Advertising

The cost of recruitment advertising can be significant, especially in areas of skill shortage. This means an organisation needs to be prepared for a couple of things:

Improving return on marketing spend is another area modern, on-demand workforce software offers great improvements over legacy systems:

Communication strategy

In permanent recruitment, applicant tracking systems, interview processes, selection days, etc, all ensure communication between hirer and candidate is clear and consistent. For large statements of work, there is often a procurement-led RFx process to ensure both parties are clear about project milestones and key dates. For freelancers, consultants and independent contractors, the process can be a lot more free-form.

To ensure your chosen contingent workers make it into your private talent pools, modern on-demand workforce software provides structured, clear and timely communication for all projects and engagements, regardless of size or complexity. This prevents potential contractors dropping away because they were unsure of what to expect next.

Retaining contingent talent to keep your direct sourcing strategy viable

A direct sourcing strategy for engaging contingent workers is only going to be successful while you retain an engaged talent pool.

The simplest route to engagement is to ensure every freelancer, consultant or contractor in your talent pool is working on a project. However, whilst this is the simplest route, it's not the most practical.

At any given time, there will be a portion of your contingent talent pool without any work to do for you. To ensure these workers are there and available for the next time, you need regularly engage them.

But not all contingent workers are equal. They will all need different nudges and communications to stay engaged. For example:

Silver medalists & Alumni

Recently unsuccessful members of your talent pool may be most receptive to an email or phone call to discuss upcoming opportunities.

Recently hired

Active, successful, applicants are pretty ripe for any communication. They are going to be keen to hear what you have to say. Email communication about your 'freelancer value proposition' or how you ensure IR35 compliance would be useful and engaging.


Talent pool members that have never responded to a invite to tender, or opened an email, are likely engaged elsewhere. The best way to get these people back would be contextual advertising.

Identifying these different segments of your talent pools is possible with on-demand workforce software. TalonFMS, for example, through its integration with some of the popular email marketing platforms can create and sync mailing lists in real-time so it's easy for you to keep your contingent workers engaged with meaningful, timely, relevant communication.

Direct sourcing contingent workers is challenging but software makes it achievable

As this guide highlights, there are many complicated facets of implementing a successful direct sourcing strategy.

But through the intelligent application of on-demand workforce software, it is possible to deliver an engaging user-experience for the organisation, its hiring managers and its freelancers, consultants and independent contractors.


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