What Does Direct Hire Mean?

Plus Tips for Landing the Job

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What’s a direct-hire job? If you’re interested in a full-time position with benefits like health insurance, vacation time, and sick leave, you’re probably looking for a direct-hire job.

Direct hires are among the most desirable types of positions. That’s because you’ll be working directly for your employer in a full-time permanent capacity with employee benefits. These benefits may include health insurance, paid leave, investment and retirement options, and wellness benefits. 

Direct-hire positions can be harder to find than other types of work, including part-time or temporary jobs and contract work. A CareerBuilder survey reported that 40% of employers planned on hiring full-time workers in 2019, compared to 47% for part-time and contract workers.

Even though direct-hire jobs may not be the easiest to find, there are ways you can optimize your job search to tap into companies that hire directly. Here’s a quick guide to direct hiring, how it differs from other types of recruiting, and tips for successfully landing a job as a direct hire.

What Is a Direct Hire?

When speaking about direct hiring, employers and recruiters are talking about long-term, full-time payroll employees working directly for their employer. Past generations of Americans enjoyed direct hiring more so than today’s current workforce. Today, employment has a greater variety, including temporary projects, on-call work, part-time jobs, and work that is outsourced to independent contractors. This offers employers greater hiring flexibility.


Companies that directly hire their employees typically provide top benefits and look to invest in their full-time workers on a long-term basis.

Private Employer vs. Federal Government Direct Hiring

However, “direct hire” doesn’t mean the same thing in the public sector. The federal government has its own definition of “direct hiring.”

When there is a severe shortage of candidates or a critical hiring need, federal agencies can request direct-hire authority to appoint candidates to positions without going through the standard government hiring process.

Available direct-hire authority positions are often noted on the USAJobs federal government employment website, along with instructions on how to apply.

Direct Hire vs. Other Forms of Hiring

In the private sector, the main difference between direct and other forms of hiring is that a direct hire is considered a permanent hire. All other hires are somewhat less permanent, and therefore, less of a long-term employment opportunity. Additionally, a direct hire will typically have employee benefits, where other forms of hiring may or may not include those benefits.

Even “permanent” hires don’t provide a long-term guarantee. Many employees in the U.S. are considered “employed at will,” which means that companies can fire workers for any reason—or no reason at all—with or without notice.

Below are other forms of hiring that you may come across during the job search.

  • Contract to Hire: A company or agency may intend to fill a permanent position in the future, but prefer to evaluate candidates by starting them out as contract workers. Contract to hire allows candidates to work for pay and get to know the employer, the position, and the scope of the job. Employers can opt to hire their contractors for full-time positions, or continue to meet their employment needs through temporary arrangements.
  • Contract Hiring: Companies may also decide to hire temporary workers on a short-term contract. Contract hiring is when an employer outsources work to independent contractors or agencies. It may also include part-time payroll employees tasked with a temporary full-time position to meet seasonal or unusually high demand. Employees that work part time on a long-term basis may be considered contract workers or temporary hires, depending on how they are paid.
  • Temporary Hire: Hourly workers filling a short-term need at a company are temporary hires. These can be seasonal workers (such as when UPS and FedEx hire extra helpers during the holidays) or other hourly, part-time workers with no long-term commitment from an employer.

How Recruiting Works in Direct Hiring

When a company seeks outside assistance for contract or temporary hiring, they may hire staffing agencies to assist with the recruiting process. These agencies then become the liaison between those looking for work and companies looking for temporary hiring solutions.

However, direct hire needs are permanent roles that require more selectivity. Additionally, more people may send in resumes for direct hire jobs than for temporary or contract jobs due to the benefits that come with the position. 


Because many companies find the direct-hire process complex and time consuming, they may opt to seek assistance from recruiters and headhunters to fill available positions.

Recruiting agencies have expertise in managing a high volume of applications, evaluating resumes, and submitting the top choices to the employer for review. Some agencies may handle the interview process up to the point of a new employee’s first day of work. Others may simply help screen out the less-than-ideal talent so that the employer can choose from the most qualified candidates in the applicant pool.

Other direct-hiring companies may prefer to keep recruiting in-house. This means they may task teams within their human resources department to handle staffing and recruiting needs.

Examples of Direct Hiring

Some jobs are more likely to be direct-hire positions than others. Generally speaking, these roles require skills that are in high demand in the job market. There may also be a shortage of qualified applicants for these roles, causing companies to offer more long-term security and better benefits to secure a more attractive candidate pool.

Managers and Executives

Leadership can make or break the company. When top managers and executives at a company are temporary hires, it can hinder company operations, long-term planning, and financial growth. That’s why many companies may choose their leaders carefully and hire them on a permanent basis.

Employees With Unique Skills

Many jobs that require a high level of education and a unique hard skill set are often filled with a direct-hire candidate. These positions may often be referred to as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) jobs. In today’s tech world, finding candidates with strong technological skills in industries that have changed dramatically within the last 10 years can be difficult. Once a company finds the right candidate, it will want to incentivize them to stay with the company as a permanent employee.

Fewer Candidates for Available Jobs

There are times when employment needs exceed the number of available job seekers. When this happens, companies are forced to work harder to find strong candidates. They may offer a direct-hire package that motivates job seekers to leave their current job and accept a new direct-hire position with higher pay and better benefits.

Employer Recruiting Events

Many larger employers hold recruiting events or participate in multi-employer career fairs. Events are often held on college campuses, at local convention centers, or on military bases. When participating in a direct hiring event, the employer’s goal is to engage top candidates gathering in one place. Job seekers participating in direct hiring events should come prepared to hand out resumes and take on-the-spot interviews. 


If you are looking to take advantage of a recruiting event, be sure to dress well, research the company (or companies) involved, and bring copies of your resume to give to prospective employers.

How to Find Direct Hire Jobs

As with any job search, ensuring you have a strong resume, learning new skills to increase your employability, and practicing your interview skills may help you land a new role. When it comes to applying for direct-hire jobs, below are a few things you can do to find them and potentially get your foot in the door faster.

  • Apply on company websites. Most large companies have a recruiting system in place where applicants can apply directly on a company’s website. You may get your application in the queue faster than if you use a third-party website.
  • Work with a recruiter. Many direct-hire candidates may be sourced through recruiters that are highly skilled at finding top talent. Consider connecting with a local or industry-specific recruiting agency to help you secure a direct-hire job.
  • Sign up for email alerts. Large organizations often provide job alerts via email to notify candidates about new job openings directly. This is a terrific way to stay informed of the latest opportunities.
  • Follow companies of interest on LinkedIn and social media. Many companies post openings on social media, and it’s easy to click on the link shared by the employer to get more information and apply.

Bottom Line

Direct-hire jobs are some of the most desirable positions They typically offer more long-term security and better benefits.

Direct hiring isn’t the only way to gain employment Other options like contract to hire and temporary work may provide you with work experience or a path to permanent employment.

Some jobs are more likely to be direct hire positions These include managerial roles or STEM jobs that require in-demand skills.

There are many ways to find these jobs Employer events, social media, company websites, and email alerts may prove helpful.

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  1. Indeed. "What Is Direct Hiring?" Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  2. SHRM Employee Benefits 2019. “Executive Summary,” Pages 3-8. Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  3. CareerBuilder. “Forty Percent of Employers Plan to Hire Full-Time Workers This Year, Forty-Seven Percent Recruiting Part-Time Workers,” Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  4. Brookings. “Independent Workers and the Modern Labor Market,” Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  5. OPM. “Direct Hire Authority,” Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  6. N.C. Department of Labor. "Employment at Will," Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  7. Office of Child Support Employment. "What’s the Difference Between an Independent Contractor and an Employee?" Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  8. State of North Carolina. "Temporary Employment," Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  9. CareerBuilder. "Majority of Hiring Managers Believe Role of Recruiters Will Change with Rise of Technology, Plan to Increase Utilization of Staffing Firms in Next Five Years," Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

  10. Chief Human Capital Officers Council. "Announcing Government-wide Direct Hire Appointing Authorities," Accessed Oct. 29, 2019.

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