Strategies for Recruiting Passive Candidates in Today’s Modern Talent Pool

Most hiring managers know that recruiting passive candidates is not easy. These candidates, while talented and desirable, may not be completely interested in a new job and are surely not actively seeking one. Therefore, when hiring managers stumble across passive candidates, they know that it will take more than a simple email to get these candidates hooked for the job. Do you think you have tried-and-true methods for recruiting passive candidates in today’s modern work habits? Check out this effective list and see how your ways measure up.

“75 percent of people with full-time roles are not actively looking for a job.”

Understand Your Audience

The first, and most important, rule of recruiting passive candidates is to understand your audience. Are you aware of who you are looking for? Some companies are not. For some reason, many hiring managers believe that any candidate they come across is eagerly looking for a job. However, that can be far from the truth, according to Lou Adler of LinkedIn. He noted that candidates actually come in four different categories, including:

  • Candidates who are eagerly looking and sharing their job experience and information.
  • Candidates who have just begun the job search.
  • Candidates who are considering getting a new job, but have not begun to look.
  • Candidates who are completely satisfied with their current role and are not considering re-entering the job search process anytime soon.

Many hiring managers assume that candidates fall into one of the first three categories. Turns out, it is just the opposite. Most qualified, talented candidates actually fall into the fourth quadrant. LinkedIn noted that approximately 75 percent of people with full-time roles are not actively looking for a job. Why?

Some candidates know they are talented and skilled at what they do, especially if they currently possess a high-demand role. In these cases, candidates know that they don’t have to worry about going out and looking for the right job, instead, it will simply come to them. While these candidates are considered passive, they may say “yes” if the right opportunity presents itself, especially if it happens to be better than their current role. This concept makes finding top talent an even harder hurdle to overcome.

So the hiring manager’s role is to understand this purpose and learn how to market it as a result. Yet where do they start? Consider these tips on how to uncover and recruit passive candidates.

Recruiting passive candidates with casual conversations.

Scouting Your Passive Candidate Audience

There are a few different ways savvy recruiters can find these passive candidates who might be perfect for the job. Each of these methods is a great way to scout someone who might be willing to listen, but is not looking. Sources include:

1. Your Applicant Tracking System

The applicant tracking system can be used in a few ways, and one way is to dig up a few passive candidates. Go back a few years in your ATS to find out who applied for the role you are looking to fill, or who applied to a similar role. You will be pleased to find a plethora of candidates. A few quick searches on LinkedIn and other social media websites can help hiring managers learn what these candidates are up to now and whether they are right for the position.

2. Employee Referrals

Like birds of a feather, they flock together! One of the best ways to find qualified and culturally fit candidates is through asking your existing employees who they know within their network that would make for a good fit. Your existing workforce already knows the company brand, culture, business model, role requirements, and has an image of the ideal candidate. Your job to recruit passive candidates just got a heck of a lot easier. You can also contact past referrals who may not have ended up pursuing the job to find out if now is better timing and a better fit.

“There are three reasons employee referrals prove to be a wildly successful method of passive recruitment,” shared Polly Brady, Marketing Director at Profiles, Marketing and Creative staffing firm. She explains:

Savings – In many corporations referral programs prove to be the most cost effective method of your talent acquisition strategy. As the Marketing Director, Polly is responsible for tracking and analyzing cost per acquisition and cost per placement across all marketing, creative, and technical placements.

Culture Fit – Your existing employees are not only motivated by a monetary reward. They equally care for the success of the placement and the reputation tied to their personal brand perceived by peers when associated to the referral. In result, the culture you breed within will continue to recruit like-minded individuals who care for the success of the position.

Increased Retention Rates – While company reviews on Glassdoor make an impression to potential candidates and how they judge your company culture, hearing the good word and insider details from a friend or old colleague who they trust creates a stronger emotional tie to this judgment call.

3. Networking at Industry Events & Online Summits

Industry events are a perfect way to connect with people in a casual environment and potentially seek out additional recruitment help. Browse through your contacts to find out whether you have recently met a few people who might be the perfect candidate. Looking within your LinkedIn network can also help you uncover those passive candidates.

With the growing popularity of online summits, which allow you to obtain cutting edge industry knowledge from leaders across the globe, one may pass up prime networking opportunities. Stay for the Q&A, and participate! Through the online forums and user groups that spawn from the online summits, connect via LinkedIn, and schedule your own introductory calls in your own time.

Know the Job, and Know How to “Sell” It

Once hiring managers have gotten in touch with passive candidates, they immediately begin to pitch the position, which is not the best move. Candidates will most likely be turned off by this approach, and prefer not to be pitched the job right from the start. Instead, hiring managers need to be completely well-versed in the job and know the position inside and out. Once they are comfortable with the position, the hiring manager can ask candidates to have a casual conversation. Talk about the candidates experience, and try to find disparities between their experience and the role; when you do, mention these differences to the candidate. If he or she begins to attempt to sell themselves for the role, you have hooked an active candidate.


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