The Secret to Implementing a Successful Direct Sourcing Pool


Tammy Browning

President, KellyOCG

In my recent blog, I talked about the questions I get asked most often and direct sourcing was firmly at the top of that list! In this blog, I dive deeper into this workforce solution and explore the key questions that organizations need to consider before they hit go on direct sourcing.

Direct sourcing means different things to different people. For some, it means creating a talent pool from previous qualified applicants or people they have previously worked with; also know as silver medalists or alumni. For others, it means asking a staffing agency to build a warm pool of talent driven by a recruiting engine and filled with previously unknown candidates. A hybrid model combines both of these approaches to include known and unknown candidates. However you look at it, and however you organize it, the goal of a direct sourcing program is nearly always the same – to create easy access to a curated collective of skilled talent. The benefits can be significant, and a successful direct sourcing initiative can reduce time to fill, decrease costs, increase diversity, and ensure that a business can always find the people it needs, fast.

Despite these big benefits, direct sourcing programs can (and often do) fail. Organizations see the potential of direct sourcing and want every role to go through this channel. However, direct sourcing is not a good match for all roles, and the secret to creating a successful talent pool lies in understanding how to use this type of sourcing smartly and building a robust provider partnership. You can get started by asking these 5 key questions:

What does your candidate mix look like?

The lifecycle of a candidate relationship in direct sourcing is short – typically 30 to 60 days – which means there is a constant churn of candidates. To make the most of these skilled candidates, it’s important to identify a requisition base that aligns closely to direct sourcing channels. The roles that best fit a direct sourcing approach are highly repeatable, with large numbers of roles appearing annually or seasonally. Without this alignment, organizations run the risk of slowcycle times, or roles going unfilled which requires the need for the supply chain to be enabled.

Many direct sourcing initiatives fail because they don’t start with talent; they start with cost savings. By starting from a cost perspective, you run the very real risk of not being able to fill the wide array of roles through your limited and unspecified group causing hiring manager frustration and lack of adoption.

Are you willing to provide access to historical talent?

Some of the most successful direct sourcing initiatives are built on access to a historical talent community of previous qualified applicants and previous workers. This information can be used as a baseline to build an incredibly rich hybrid community of talent. Often, organizations feel uncomfortable sharing data from their applicant tracking systems, and while it’s understandable that they have reservations about sharing proprietary information, this insight can be invaluable to a direct talent partner. If this isn’t possible, it’s important to begin with a prescriptive list of the skills you need (and at what frequency), along with any available analytics. This can ensure a talent partner shapes a recruited talent pool that closely matches your business needs and has a high chance of delivering successful candidates.

Have you got the right talent partner?

Technology is a huge part of direct sourcing partnerships. At KellyOCG, we use proprietary direct sourcing technology that is customized to each client and can provide personalized analytics that allow them to understand who is in a pool, what the lifecycle of a candidate looks like, and how many people are being hired. This gives a business the ability to get a real-time view of their direct sourcing and plan more effectively for their sourcing needs in the future. This visibility can accelerate diversity initiatives and allow a business to create sourcing communities designed for diverse candidates. Our technology also uses embedded automation to recruit like-minded talent through social media and professional networks. An external talent provider must be aligned, not only with your sourcing needs but with your culture and brand. Customized landing pages are an important part of the direct sourcing journey – get these pages wrong and you may find that your pool remains empty. Landing pages also have to work smoothly with an organization's website and be constantly updated to accurately reflect what’s happening inside a business at that moment.

Is your talent pool exclusive?

Exclusivity is another consideration for organizations thinking about direct sourcing. At KellyOCG, we create a locked talent community where candidates are only available to a single client directly. Other providers may offer several organizations unrestricted access to a single talent pool, reducing the key benefits of direct sourcing; there are even products that are labeled direct sourcing but, in reality, are being filled by normal staffing channels. The definition for direct sourcing is wide, and it’s important to ask questions to understand exactly what you are getting from a product, solution, or partnership.

What is your engagement strategy?

You can’t just set up a direct sourcing channel and walk away. It requires a huge amount of activity to maintain engagement over time, and the better this engagement, the longer talent will stay within a curated community. So, how can you ensure that the skilled talent you’re talking to stays intereseted? Building a relationship between the direct sourcing provider and the candidate is the best way to maintain an active candidate pool. Communication is a big part of this – sharing relevant content, regular contact, and even reaching out after a potential candidate has opted out of a group can be important to maintain a steady supply of highly engaged candidates.

Direct sourcing is a trendy term in staffing right now, but it’s not the answer to every sourcing challenge. Understanding exactly what you need from direct sourcing and how it can address a specific issue is key to making it work for you. It’s also a highly collaborative effort, requiring consistent work and input from both talent provider and organization to ensure success. If you’d like to talk about direct sourcing or share your biggest staffing challenges, get in touch. I’m always happy to talk talent!


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