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Attracting Passive Candidates

If you knew that your company career board would only reach a scant 12% of the workforce, would that change the way you approach recruiting? According to a recent LinkedIn talent survey, that’s the percentage of workers who say they are aggressively looking for a new job. But what if you knew that an additional 28% were casually looking or cautiously reaching out to personal networks about opportunities, and that a solid 45% were willing to be approached by a recruiter about a positive career move? Do some quick math, and 12% mushrooms into a whopping 85% of the workforce that might be willing to make a job change if the right offer came along. Now that’s a number that should revolutionize your talent acquisition methods.

What is a Passive Candidate?

Active candidates are the ones reaching out to their professional networks, answering job ads, and sending resumes to your hiring manager. Experience demonstrates, however, that the most highly qualified, in-demand talent isn’t out there surfing job boards. They already have jobs and they are generally satisfied with their positions. But if the right offer came along, a significant majority of these employees would be willing to talk with a recruiter and consider a new position. These are the passive candidates, and they are the ones you should be aggressively recruiting.

Why Should You Seek Out Passive Candidates?

Passive candidates may seem elusive and difficult to engage, but there are several reasons you should seek them out:

They have the right skill set—Seeking out candidates with the exact skill set you need means a better fit for your company than you will likely find in the stack of resumes on your desk. Passive candidates are those who have the talent and work ethic to get the job done—that’s why they already have a job.
They are unlikely to inflate their qualifications—It’s easy to pad a resume when you’re desperate for a job, but a passive candidate has no need to lie about qualifications. You contacted them, so why should they?
They are good employees—Most passive candidates have a job they enjoy, and they tend to be good team members. That means they will probably make a good fit for your team as well.

How Can You Successfully Recruit a Passive Candidate?

Recruiting approaches have begun to shift over the past few years. More companies have jumped on the passive candidate bandwagon, and your competitors may be trying to recruit the same people you are. So how can you design an effective strategy for attracting those elusive passive candidates?

  • Develop a performance-based job description—The job description you post on your career page (skills, experience, academic requirements) is designed to weed out unqualified candidates. When you are recruiting passive candidates, you already know what their qualifications are. The job description you provide to the candidate should detail what he or she will be expected do in order to perform successfully in the position. In other words, define your requirements based on desired results, not qualifications.
  • Determine what the candidate needs to make a switch—What would convince the candidate that the move is a desirable one? Most passive candidates are not looking for better job titles, more job security, or a better boss. However, they might be persuaded to make a job change for better compensation, a better work/life blend, or a more challenging position.
  • Sell a Long-Term Opportunity, Not a Short-Term Fix—In order to persuade a passive candidate, you will need to sell your organization as a long-term opportunity for a better career path. Most passive candidates won’t be persuaded by superficial reasons, and if they are, they may not remain satisfied for very long.
  • Be persistent—Don’t give up after the first email. If a passive candidate is perfectly satisfied this month, next month he or she might be open to a conversation. Successful recruiters never pester their contacts, but they keep the communication lines open in order to make a connection.

Passive candidates represent a huge, largely untapped pool of qualified workers who may fit the needs of your company perfectly. In order to reach them, adjust your hiring strategy to identify their points of concern and sell them not just on a job, but on an opportunity.New call-to-action