For companies looking to hire, it can be challenging to determine which recruitment method is the best fit for your specific needs. Does direct hire make the most sense, or maybe temporary staffing? How about flexible hiring—or maybe contract-to-hire? As staffing experts, we’ll walk you through some of the different forms of hiring, what they entail, and what may make one version the right choice for your organization. Ready to demystify what’s out there? Read on to learn more—starting with direct hiring. 

What is direct hiring, and when is it useful?

Direct hiring, also known as direct staffing, is a method of recruiting in which businesses hire employees for an immediate start in a permanent position. Direct hiring implies a long-term relationship between the employer and the employee, whereas a temporary hire is—as you’d expect—for the short term, and contract-to-hire holds the potential for a full-time permanent offer should the contract period go smoothly. 

Direct recruitment is well-suited for businesses seeking a firm commitment from employees filling key roles within the organization. These roles are often already defined and may require unique skills or experience, which makes it more beneficial from both the employer and the employee’s perspective to have greater assurance that the role will remain filled. Direct hire can also be particularly advantageous when your business is expanding, experiencing steady growth, or has identified specific skill sets essential for its operations. It offers the opportunity to build a strong, committed team that aligns with the company's culture and values and can help contribute to its success over an extended period.

Similar to other recruiting methods, direct hire can be completed either in-house by the hiring manager or by a staffing agency on behalf of a client. Direct hiring can be time-consuming—usually involving multiple rounds of interviews and background checks to ensure the hire is the right choice—and many companies choose to have staffing partners perform these placements on their behalf to save on time, effort, and resources. 

Direct hiring can take many forms

While all direct hiring involves placing an employee in a permanent position, not all direct hiring is the same. Even within this category, there are different types of direct hire that businesses can take advantage of, depending on their specific business needs. Typically, though, you’ll see direct staffing split into three primary buckets. 

Traditional direct hiring

The traditional direct hire model involves recruiting candidates for permanent positions. A particular role is made available, and either the hiring manager or a staffing agency finds a candidate that meets the job requirements, vets their credentials, and makes the candidate an immediate, long-term offer. 

Most staffing agencies will offer some form of a direct hire service that handles much of the legwork required to successfully find and interview candidates. For instance, Spherion's DirectHIRE offering takes care of sourcing and screening candidates, ensuring that they not only possess the necessary skills but also align with the company's values and goals. It can also include job postings, interviews, background checks, and other time-intensive tasks associated with hiring.

Flexible direct hiring

Typically offered by staffing agencies, flexible direct hiring provides businesses with the ability to rapidly scale staffing to meet demand. Where traditional direct staffing may fill a few positions in different departments with a pre-identified need, flexible direct hiring may fill positions for an entirely new department or may serve as an on-call HR department, handling hiring needs on an ongoing basis for companies without an HR department of their own. 

Because this hiring type is—by definition—flexible, staffing agency offerings for this can vary widely as well. Most should include the basic hiring needs outlined above. Some, like Spherion’s DirectFLEX service, also provide a more flexible fee structure so clients can take advantage of staffing solutions even when budgets are tight. 

Executive search hiring

The final type of direct hire is executive hiring, where finding the right candidate with a specific skill set and experience is paramount. These are often high-visibility roles with an especially major impact on the company’s performance. The board or other high-profile members of the company may need to weigh in before offers are made, and hiring managers must be absolutely certain that any candidate will perform well, have the right experience, and fit with the company’s culture and values. 

Executive search hiring can be carried out by in-house hiring managers or staffing agencies, though not all staffing agencies offer this service. Spherion's DirectRETAINED services are well-equipped for identifying and attracting top-tier executive talent, for companies looking to find the best strategic fit for the leadership roles within their organization. Spherion draws from a deep pool of qualified leaders across all of its locations to find an executive who truly understands a company’s goals and will fit in seamlessly with the company’s culture.


What does the direct hire process entail?

Regardless of which of these three forms of direct hiring a company chooses to pursue, the overall process is fairly similar. First, the hiring company identifies a hiring need and defines the requirements of the position, including skills, qualifications, and experience. Once the criteria are established, the recruitment process begins, handled either in-house by the hiring company or by the staffing agency partner. The direct hire process is comprehensive, comprising sourcing, screening, and interviewing potential candidates to ensure that they not only meet the technical requirements but also fit seamlessly into the company culture.

After the selection, the chosen candidate is offered a permanent position, signifying a commitment from both parties. This process minimizes the risk of turnover and ensures a stable and dedicated workforce.

Advantages and disadvantages of direct hire staffing

If your company is looking to fill open positions, direct staffing through a staffing agency offers major advantages. One of the primary benefits is the long-term commitment from new employees, which contributes to more stability within the organization. Direct hire also allows for a more personalized and tailored approach to hiring, giving companies (or the staffing agency working on their behalf) the ability to take the time to hire candidates that definitively align with their values and goals. Additionally, direct hiring can be a more cost-effective solution in the long run, considering that it aims to find the right long-term placement and thereby avoid the continuous recruitment and training expenses associated with more temporary employees.

For some, these advantages may also come hand in hand with some potential challenges. First, because the direct hire process prioritizes finding the right long-term hire, it can consequently take longer than temporary staffing, delaying the time it takes to fill a position. There are also sometimes more substantial upfront costs associated with direct hiring, including recruitment efforts and onboarding. However, these factors are relatively minor, and the strategic advantages of building a more intentional team often outweigh perceived drawbacks.

What kind of businesses benefit from direct hire?

Considering direct hire? Still not sure if it’s the right choice for your company based on all of the above? In our experience, we’ve found that companies who benefit most from direct hire have certain characteristics in common: 

  • They have known long-term staffing needs: A clear plan for long-term staffing usually requires more thoughtful hiring.
  • They are growing rapidly or are expected to: Growth can bring disruption, necessitating a committed and stable workforce.
  • They’re hiring for positions requiring very specific skills: It takes time to find and assess candidates for specific technical skills or industry expertise.
  • A good cultural fit is important to them: Some companies value a cultural fit more than others, which may make it worth it to spend more time in the hiring process.
  • They’re budget-conscious: The upfront costs of direct hiring may be worth the long-term benefits, like reduced turnover and training expenses.

Direct hire helps you build a committed, high-quality workforce

When done strategically, direct hire can be a cornerstone for building a resilient and successful team. With direct hiring, businesses benefit from long-term stability, cultural alignment, and cost-effective staffing solutions—all of which contribute to sustained growth and business success.