In the ever waging war for talent, with positions taking longer to fill and quality candidates becoming more and more scarce, many organisations are looking for new and innovative ways to source and recruit top talent. One way, is the increasing popularity of engaging passive candidates – individuals who may not be directly looking for a new job, but would be open to switching jobs if the opportunity arises.  Getting someone in this situation to be excited about your organisation can not only be a tough task, but time-consuming too.

Let’s look at some stats:

  • In a 2012 LinkedIn survey, 79% of working professionals around the world are considered passive candidates.

  • According to the CEB Recruiting Leadership Council Global Labour Market Briefing, findings suggest that passive candidates represent 60-70% of the candidate universe. Indicators also show that passive candidates are higher performers when they are hired. Performance is rated 9% higher than active candidates and employers report them as 25% more likely to stay with the company long-term.

With these factors in mind, this potential candidate pool looks highly appealing. However, one needs to remember that a passive candidate is someone who is not actively looking for a new job and not all passive candidates want to make a career move. To recruit these kinds of candidates takes an entirely different approach than the traditional way to recruit active candidates. These candidates are probably too busy doing what they need to do to be successful to even worry about what’s happening in the job market.

So why try to recruit them at all?

People with the exact skills you’re looking for can be few and far between. And when you find them, they may have already found someone else. The skills gap is what makes passive candidates seem more attractive. There is less on boarding, less training, and less of a gamble – the candidate will already have the skills you need! And then there is the added benefit that since they are not looking for a new opportunity, they probably won’t be interviewing with anyone else.

Here are some tips for dealing with passive candidates:

  • Passive candidates don’t need a ‘job’, they already have one. They need to be offered opportunities for ‘career’ growth. Those who want to recruit passive candidates need to show the bigger picture. Does your organisation align with their long term career goals and cultural preferences? This comes down to employer branding. An employer brand refers to the reputation and image your company has in the marketplace. It’s typically what attracts (or repels) potential job candidates. Make them want to work for you by cultivating a reputation that shows them that your company is their ideal workplace for career growth.

  • Continuously work your online presence. In this day and age, social media is your greatest tool to connect – interact with top talent via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social spaces relevant to your industry. Drive attention to talent and become part of the conversations that are relevant to them. From there it is easier make an approach with an opportunity that will be taken seriously.

  • Get into Blogging. People engage around content, and producing relevant content via a blog presents you as an authority in your field for others to follow. Don’t just write about your company, write about topics that people in your industry should be considering, even if they aren’t looking for a job right now. Prospective employees should be able to get a sense of what the organisation is like. Be sure your organisation is presenting a consistent image across online platforms such as the company website and social media accounts.

  • Network and think long-term with your relationships. Passive candidates value relationships. Join networking events and engage in employee referral programs. In your search for passive candidates, you may find people that are perfectly content with their job and aren’t interested in moving – no matter how great your company and opportunity are. That’s why, in your initial conversations, you need to use more meaningful networking. Let them know you want to hear back from them even if they’re not interested. By getting them to respond, you can build a relationship that may lead to other networking connections, or at least allow you to reach out to them at a later time. The result of meaningful networking and taking the time to build a long term relationship is that when a passive candidate DOES want to make a change, you’re the first organisation they think of.

Do you seek out passive candidates as part of your overall candidate sourcing strategy? What other tips would you add?

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