Top Tips to Recruit Passive Candidates

Sometimes, the best hires aren’t the ones actively looking for a job. Better known as “passive” candidates, these gainfully employed professionals are reasonably happy but might be willing to consider a more attractive offer. Passive candidates comprise 84% of the potential workforce, according to the Department of Labor, and finding these potential hires requires recruiters to be more active in their pursuit. Passive candidates are not really as passive as they say they are; they are more than willing to listen. The big difference being, they are more selective.

Here are our top tips to recruit passive candidates:

  • You already have a great database of passive candidates; ignoring your own ATS has been quite an epidemic in recruiting. These candidates, even if they’re not looking, are almost always open to a conversation if they’ve previously applied. Many times, you’ll see that while they might not have been a right fit a couple years back, they are now as they’ve had the chance to gain the necessary skills and experience.
  • People engage around content, and producing relevant content via a blog presents you as an authority in your field for others to follow. Hence, blogging grabs the attention of those that may not be looking to switch jobs now but are willing to hear from you because of the way you’ve presented yourself. Top candidates want to maintain relationships with subject matter experts, not recruiters. That’s why blogging and attending industry events to build presence and thought leadership are strong assets.
  • Treat employees as if you are recruiting them. If you want employees to speak positively about your company, they need to actually like working there! Although it’s often out of the recruiter’s hands, good work environment and employee brands are critical to attracting passive candidates. It’s also important that current employees know when and for what the company is hiring. The company’s network is far greater than the recruiter’s network; in addition, it’s a great venue to get your employees engaged with prospective hires.
  • Referrals: Instead of asking, “Who do you know that is looking?” ask, “Who do you know with the same skill set or XYZ skill set?”
  • What makes a candidate tick: money is often not the top motivator for job seekers, whether passive or active. Reasons for changing jobs can be varied. The reason a passive candidate may be interested in your position could be something as simple as training or being closer to home in order to pick up their children after school. Passive candidates are passive not because they love their jobs but because they have a set work/life balance that are comfortable and easy. The only way to discover those core motivating factors is to study candidates’ backgrounds and listen to them. Why did they move from one job to another?
  • Understand that passive candidates have the ball in their court and won’t make the leap unless you can compel them to do so. Often times, you will need to communicate a unique value proposition that scratches an itch that is not being met at the current employer.
  • Think of recruiting like dating. You have to think of recruiting long-term and approach the conversation in a softer way. Let the candidates know you like them and you enjoy connecting with them, and then make sure you’re giving them a reason to be interested in you. One way to get them to like you that is to simply be a resource of Information.

All of this advice seems like a lot of work, and it is, but it’s key to realize that the work is cumulative. With a little effort and the right timing, the energy you put into recruiting passives today will likely pay off in the future.