Recruiting passive candidates

A Recruiter's Guide on How to Source Passive Candidates

Published on November 6th, 2022


Sourcing and hiring passive candidates has become a contentious issue in recent years with some hiring professionals being totally for and others completely against the practice.

The reality is that we need passive candidates if we’re going to make successful hires, and the idea of finding staff this way is as old as the concept of employment. Before broad-scale advertising opportunities were available companies found staff by word of mouth or referrals as we call it now.

Many referrals are not active job seekers and they wouldn’t have applied for the job had someone they trusted not told them about the opportunity.

Sourcing passive talent isn’t the solution to fill every vacancy, and hiring managers need to understand when to use this option and when not to. Many roles are quickly and successfully filled with active candidates.

Specific industries require specialized skills that are often difficult to find. Sourcing passive experienced specialists can be the only option to get the skills you need on board.

What are passive candidates?

A candidate who is under consideration for a position but is not actively looking for work is considered a passive candidate. They wouldn't have applied for a job and aren't looking for a new one either. They become passive candidates, though companies want to use their expertise to strengthen their teams.

How are passive candidates any different from the active candidates? You may wonder.

Active candidates frequently browse job boards, submit applications, and actively search for opportunities on social media. Either they are seeking better possibilities or they are jobless. Depending on their situation and philosophy of life, they are either anxious, expecting, or thrilled to find a new job.

When you make contact with an active applicant, they are open to conversations and responsive to recruiters' advances. If they can't talk to you right away about your career opportunity, they'll be in touch with you as soon as they can. Candidates that are actively seeking employment are putting themselves out there in the hopes of discovering a great position.

However, passive candidates are in a completely different zone! Job boards don’t even cross their mind, and when they use social media, it has nothing to do with finding a new job. They mostly use career-related social media platforms to network within their industry, update their skills, and make relevant contacts.

When you approach a passive prospective candidate, you can expect a cool response and sometimes none at all.

What are the characteristics of passive candidates?

We'll discuss how to recognize this set of professionals and how they vary from other job searchers now that the concept of passive job seekers is apparent. Four key traits are presented here that can aid in your comprehension of passive prospects.

1. They are always open for contact

Passive candidates are open to talk and look for the next step.  This indicates that they are eager to learn about opportunities that will advance their careers. They need to be introduced to new opportunities because they are not actively looking for them; this can happen through advertisements or personal contact.

Of course, a recruiter who is actively looking for qualified prospects can establish direct contact. Since networks like LinkedIn are frequently used for this purpose, recruiters are frequently in fierce competition there to connect with the greatest talent. As a result, numerous candidates receive frequent communications from various recruiters. This causes them to be more critical and reduces the chances that they will reply to your message.

Nevertheless, candidates still want to hear from you. Research conducted by LinkedIn showed that 90% of the professionals active on the platform would like to hear about career opportunities.

2. They have individual ambitions

Passive job seekers can be critical. They are in a strong position, thus you must make them an offer they can't reject. Many professionals want to grow personally and/or professionally, but not all candidates are the same. Some individuals are interested in a different position because they would like to work from home more frequently, have more flexible hours, or for entirely different reasons.

You'll need to take the time to conduct some research in order to make a passive candidate an offer that they cannot reject. Find out what they are interested in or do by looking through their social media profiles, then use it to strike up a conversation. Once you've struck up a conversation, learn more about the professional's goals and motivations. With that knowledge, you may gradually adjust your offer to the person you are speaking to. It will also enable you to determine whether their personality and the culture of your business mesh well.


3. They’re thinking long-term

The advantages of passive job seekers have already been discussed. They have the chance to assess work opportunities critically and have defined aspirations. They won't accept a new job in a heartbeat due to both of these reasons. They are not under any time constraints to change occupations because they are content in their current employment, which allows them to concentrate on the long term.

The long-term goal of the professionals is to advance and ultimately achieve their goals. You'll need to be aware of this long-term goal as you communicate with them and recognize that you must support their aspirations. This can lead you to get in touch with a candidate who is considering the job but isn't quite ready to accept it. It's possible that the applicant has to have more experience, complete their education, or complete a specific assignment at their current job first.

4. They love to stay up-to-date

You must establish a good rapport with passive candidates when you make contact with them. As previously mentioned, you might get in touch with someone who is interested but is not now in a position to change jobs or begin working at that particular company. If so, it could be beneficial for you to maintain contact. There is a chance that the offer could shift from a (slight) mismatch to a perfect match as the professional's circumstance evolves and your organization grows.

The expert can monitor changes till the perfect moment by staying informed and in constant contact. You can easily remain in touch by creating and maintaining talent pools. Additionally, you get access to a continuous pool of candidates who fit your organization well and have the right skills.

What is passive candidate sourcing?

Traditional recruiting involves posting a job listing and waiting for candidates to apply. Passive candidate sourcing, on the other hand, refers to the process of proactively searching for employed candidates and reaching out to them to solicit their interest in your open position.

Research shows that candidate sourcing is an effective and efficient way to hire top talent:

- Sourced candidates are more than twice as efficient as candidates who apply
- 1 in every 72 sourced candidates is hired, compared to 1 in every 152 non-sourced candidates

Why are passive candidates better?

Active job seekers are frequently less qualified than their passive counterparts, even though they can be a wonderful way to fill an open position.

This is partially because hiring managers can be more picky about a candidate's skill set when drawing from a pool of passive prospects. Hiring managers frequently have to accept every applicant from someone who is actively seeking a new job when there are active job seekers.

Passive candidates frequently have a multitude of experience or knowledge in specialized fields or possess highly in-demand skills. Typically, these competent applicants can be found in technical disciplines like technology and engineering, in the healthcare or manufacturing industries, or in other places where there is a lack of skills.

Passive candidate recruitment becomes important in this situation. You can have access to a bigger and more qualified pool of prospects by finding and hiring passive talent.

How to source passive candidates?

With passive candidates, you have to polish your power of persuasion, as well as your sales skills, since they may not be very familiar with your company. Here are some tips to make the passive recruiting process as optimal as possible.

1. Make use of a Variety of Social Media Platforms

The majority of recruiters use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, but because it is so clogged with recruiters, it is getting more difficult to find passive job seekers. It is time to expand your social recruiting strategy, because 52 percent of hiring managers think that passive candidate recruiting has become less effective due to oversaturation on LinkedIn.

You can use other social media platforms to fix this issue. Use Twitter's advanced search functionality to look for profiles that use industry-related keywords and hashtags. Recruiters can also use Facebook's targeted search capabilities to find high-quality passive candidates. You can create a sponsored Snapchat or Instagram story that showcases your company culture and catches the attention of a passive candidate.

2. Invest in automation tools

Every facet of modern recruiting, including applicant sourcing, has evolved as a result of innovative technologies. Recruiters may now find passive prospects far more quickly and effectively than they can manually by using artificial intelligence (AI). New research demonstrates that algorithms are more accurate in predicting employee performance than hiring managers themselves.

To gather and analyze a wide range of candidate data, from resume specifics to social media activity, AI technology scours the web. Using this information, AI-based technologies may forecast which passive prospects will be amenable to changing employment, making it simpler for recruiters to give those individuals top priority.

3. Establish a referral program

Current employees are often a recruiter's best source of new talent.  Referrals have long been a cornerstone of contemporary recruiting techniques, and for good reason: according to 78 percent of recruiters, referrals are where they locate the greatest applicants.

Each of your employees is connected personally and professionally through their networks. Additionally, these networks frequently include a lot of excellent prospects who could be a match for open roles at your business. However, passive prospects are significantly more likely to consider an opportunity presented to them by a personal connection than they are to reply to a communication from a recruiter.

4. Explore Job Boards and Candidate Database Services

Active candidates use online job boards as a top resource to find and apply for open positions. But did you know that job boards are also an excellent tool for recruiters to source passive candidates?

Candidates often upload their resumes to job boards during their search, and those resumes remain in the board's database even after they've accepted a job. Recruiters can search recruiting databases for several criteria including industry, experience, skills, and education level.

So, if you happen across an outdated resume, don't automatically discount the candidate. Instead, look at the trajectory of their career. If the candidate seems like he or she may have grown into a good fit for a role, don't hesitate to reach out.

5. Stress Company Culture and Growth Potential

Although many recruiters are skilled at finding passive applicants, when it comes to contacting them, their sourcing tactics fall short. The issue is that passive candidates aren't interested in the functions and requirements of a position that is open at your organization. The only way to get their attention is to demonstrate what makes working with your firm special and fulfilling.

Two of the most significant aspects that affect a candidate's choice to shift jobs are career advancement and company culture. Nearly 80% of Millennials search for people and cultural fit with employers before they look for career prospects, and 87 percent of them think career advancement and developmental chances are vital to them in a job.

When you reach out to passive candidates, you may not want to sell a specific role. Instead, facilitate a conversation about the growth opportunities within your company. And, make sure you have content that demonstrates your unique company culture and employer branding.

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Concluding Thoughts

Active candidates may make a recruiter's job easier, but as you know, the perfect candidate won't just walk through the door, ready to be hired. Sourcing passive candidates might be more of a challenge, but it's an essential tactic in today's competitive, fast-paced hiring landscape.

The good news is, that source passive candidates isn't as difficult as it seems. In fact, 85 percent of employed people are open to switching jobs! Try the methods outlined above, and you'll quickly find and engage with several passive candidates - some of whom may make a massive impact at your company for years to come.
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Radhika Sarraf

Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.

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