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By Jennifer Roeslmeier, Ultra-Staff EDGE Staffing Software


Are you tired of spending money on job boards with little return on your investment? Are you trying to improve the ways you find candidates, decrease your time to hire, and find the best talent? Well, your best candidates may be right in front of you.

Staffing Industry Analysts noted in their January Report that direct sourcing took off in 2022 and continues to evolve. In fact, it was noted that U.S. buyers found 85% of their candidates through direct sourcing. I found this number shocking and very eye-opening. If the best candidates are right in front of us, then how can we make sure we are tapping into that talent?

Staffing Industry Analysts defines direct sourcing as a company that leverages its own candidate pool (former employees, retirees, and silver medalist applicants from its own ATS) to place within the company as a contingent or temporary employee. Access to talent is one of the main reasons companies have turned to direct sourcing candidates.

Other reasons companies are drawn to direct sourcing:

  1. Saves money: helps eliminate costs associated with finding new talent, not in your candidate pool.
  2. Ability to leverage employee brand: companies can leverage their brand by reaching out to candidates they have worked with and, in return, are more likely to receive a response.
  3. Decrease time to hire: companies can hire talent faster by utilizing the candidate pool in front of them, instead of seeking out new candidates.

Direct sourcing may not work for all roles you are hiring but Staffing Industry Analysts noted it could be a good fit if the role is repetitive, high volume, specialized, and you have an abundance of candidates in your database that would fit the role you are looking to hire for.


Using Your ATS to Direct Source

So, how can you take advantage of direct sourcing using your ATS? There are several best practices that can be followed to not only help you search for candidates in your ATS but find the best ones. In this section, we will explore best practices for keeping your ATS up to date. Next, we will dive into how to keep track of your top candidates and search for candidates that are the best fit for a position. Then, we will look at how to make it easy for candidates to respond back about a job. And lastly, we will explore the current opportunity to bring retirees back into the workforce.


Keep Your ATS Up to Date

The usefulness of your ATS in direct sourcing candidates is only as good as the information.  If your candidates’ information isn’t kept up to date, then your ATS will be less effective when utilizing it to find candidates. Up-to-date information allows you to focus on the right candidates.

A simple way to keep your ATS up to date is by scheduling yearly campaigns to confirm candidates’ information is still accurate. This can easily be done in your ATS by sending out a mass text message or email with the candidate’s information you would like to confirm.

What’s important though is making it easy to respond back.  If you have the ability to send a mass text message that populates the candidate’s information, a text may give you a quicker and higher response rate. To make it as simple as possible, you can have candidates reply “1” to confirm the information is accurate. If it is not, you can have them respond directly to the message with their updated information.

Think of it like the text messages you receive to confirm an appointment, whether it is a doctor’s appointment or maybe a restaurant reservation. You might receive a text a week before or a few days before asking you to confirm your appointment. It’s a quick and easy response back that takes seconds. If you do something like this for candidates to confirm their information, you want it to be as simple and as easy of an experience.

*Note* In your message it may be worth reintroducing yourself and also noting why you are asking for their information to be confirmed. A simple introduction like the below helps them know your intentions are genuine and it’s to help them find the best job opportunities.



[INSERT RECRUITER NAME] here with [INSERT STAFFING COMPANY NAME]! Could you confirm your information below is still accurate? We want to keep our records up to date so we can reach out if any job opportunities come up that would be a perfect fit for you!”



Track Your Top Candidates

Your ATS may be filled with hundreds or even thousands of candidates, but most likely you have some that are more qualified than others. This is when good notes, rankings, and favorites lists in your ATS can become an important asset.


You want to make sure you are keeping track of the top candidates in your ATS: The ones that “got away”, the ones that were the silver and bronze medalists for a position. Keeping track of these hot candidates will pay off in the long run when you are direct sourcing from your ATS.

A valuable best practice to put in place is ranking candidates and adding “hot candidates” to a favorites list in your ATS. Explore your ATS and see if there is a way you can rank candidates by industry. If there is a way, after your recruiters’ initial communication with a candidate, they should assign a numerical ranking to the candidate based on the industry. It can be a simple 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 rating scale. That way, when you are searching for a candidate to fill a clerical position, for example, you can search in your ATS for candidates that have a high clerical ranking.

For candidates that are ranked high, you can go an additional step and add them to a Favorites List in your ATS. That way recruiters can easily access a Favorites Clerical List, a Favorites Light Industrial List, or a Favorites Accounting List, and reference that list first when sourcing quality candidates.

A last best practice to keep track of “top candidates” is putting detailed notes in your ATS under the candidate record. This is something that should be encouraged to everyone on your team. If there are specific notes that you want a recruiter to take when communicating with a candidate for the first time, consider adding this to your internal ATS manual. To ensure everyone is following the same ranking and favorites list procedures, details on ranking and adding candidates to a favorites list should also be outlined in writing in an employer ATS user manual.


Utilize Your Search Features and Full Text Search

The search features in your ATS are also a powerful resource when direct sourcing and you can get very granular with your search. Some key searches that may be helpful when direct sourcing is searching by:

  • Skills
  • Position
  • Employment History Titles
  • Location (if there is a specific location you are recruiting for)
  • Last Contacted (to find candidates you haven’t reached out to in a while)
  • Dates Last Worked (to find former employees you may want to reach out to again)

These specific searches can help you narrow down candidates that fit the job you are recruiting for.

Another important search is a Full Text Search for keywords. A Full Text Search scours your database for certain keywords in a candidate’s profile, including their resume. Not only can it search for keywords, but it can search for synonyms. This is handy if you want to search by position to see what candidates have held a similar role. It is also handy when looking for a specific skill set. If you aren’t already taking advantage of the Full Text Search, be sure to check out your ATS to see if it has this feature.



*Note* As you are conducting searches and sourcing candidates for a position, create a pipeline in your ATS to keep track of your candidate list.


Shorten the Time to Hire

Everyone enjoys a simple and quick hiring process. If you are sourcing candidates you have worked with in the past, try to make the process as quick and easy as possible. You have worked with them in the past, so you might not need to go through all of the hoops to screen that candidate.  Shorten the number of steps needed to get them hired.  A quick hiring process will not only be appreciated by the candidates, but it will be hard for them to decline the quicker you have an offer in front of them. It also allows you to get an offer in front of the candidate before another one comes their way.

One way to quicken the hiring process is by leveraging mobile technology to make accepting a job offer fast and easy.  This can be done through text message where an offer comes in as a text message and a candidate simply has to click on a link to accept it. It can also be as simple as responding back to the text with “Accept.”  Your ATS might also offer a mobile app, where candidates can accept the job offer right from the app. See what mobile features are available to you and begin implementing them to help bring that convenience to candidates.

Being able to shorten the time to hire is a perk of working with candidates that you have worked with in the past. Try to take advantage of that by eliminating unnecessary steps and making it easy for them to say yes to your job offer.


Search for Retirees

This is probably an unexpected last point but believe it or not retirees are returning to the workforce with the rise of inflation. According to ASA’s latest Workforce Monitor survey, one-third of retirees say they would consider rejoining the workforce if inflation continues and currently 14% of retirees are either actively looking for work or open to getting a job.  These statistics are high enough that it may be worth searching for candidates in your ATS that are at retirement age and seeing if they are open to work. Retirees may be good for temporary or in some cases maybe even full-time positions. Reaching out to retirees helps expand your candidate pool and more than likely they are well-qualified candidates. In the long term, this may not be a strategy that you focus on, but in the present time, it could help you fill open positions.



Direct sourcing has proven to be an efficient way to recruit top talent. Often times when searching to fill a role, we immediately resort to searching for new talent, not in your candidate pool. The truth is though, you have a large candidate pool that includes top talent right in front of you. One of the best parts about direct sourcing is that you have worked or spoken with many of the candidates in your ATS already. By utilizing the tools in your ATS, you can keep track of top talent by industry and also use the expansive search features to find candidates that are the best fit for a position. Not to mention, direct sourcing in your ATS helps shorten the time to hire by not needing to go out and find new talent. You can shorten the time to hire even more during the hiring process if it’s a candidate you have employed or worked with in the past. Ready to direct source?


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