Home - Recruitment - How to Recruit Passive Candidates

How to Recruit Passive Candidates

How to Recruit Passive Candidates

How do you look for people to fill your new or vacant position? The majority of recruiters focus on posting jobs on job boards, seeking new hires at job fairs, and other measures.

However, this is not always the best way to find top talent. By definition, those who are poring over job boards or going to job fairs are in need of a new job, and while this is an understandable place to be in, the best talent has a job. These are called passive candidates, and recruiting them is key to finding the talent your company really needs.

What's the Difference Between Active and Passive Candidates?

An active candidate is somebody who is looking for a new job while a passive candidate is somebody who is not, but who would be open to a change of position if the right opening came along.

This does not mean that active candidates are necessarily unemployed. They could also be hoping to relocate, unhappy in their current position, seeking higher pay, etc. And, of course, if they are unemployed, it is not necessarily their fault, especially during an economic downturn. However, in general, active candidates average lower quality than passive candidates.

Why is the Best Talent Likely To Be a Passive Candidate?

It's definitely true that really good employees can end up in the active category, but the fact is that top talent tends to be cultivated and kept happy where they are. However, the vast majority of employed people are passive candidates; unless they are close to retirement or very happy where they are, most employees are open to a better offer, even if they aren't looking for one.

The best talent is likely to already be in a decent job. They have the skills needed to keep that job and generally are better at avoiding bad situations that can cause them to start actively searching.  57.5 percent of recruiters believe that passive candidates are higher quality. Most, however, are not actively recruiting them.

How to Find and Attract Passive Candidates

For the most part, passive candidates aren't going to respond to your job posting or send in their resume; they may not even realize they're interested in changing jobs. This means that you need to use different measures to locate and attract this kind of talent. Here are some suggestions:

Employer Brand

You have a brand that you use to attract customers, but have you thought about how you are viewed by current and potential employees? Every company has an employer brand, and if you are not actively maintaining it, it's likely to be average or mediocre. Building your employer brand is critical, and it involves offering good salary and benefits package and building a good organizational culture. The better you treat your employees, the stronger your brand. Even such simple things as providing good food at meetings or doing a weekly happy hour can improve your employer brand.

You should focus on what makes working for your company unique, without being gimmicky. As a bonus, actions you take to improve your employer band will also reduce turnover. Partnering with a PEO can help by allowing you to offer better benefits for a lower price.

Social Media

Having a strong social media presence attracts customers, but it also attracts employees. For the latter, a presence on LinkedIn is often helpful, but Facebook is always good. By posting about your opportunities on your Facebook page, you can then be noticed by passive candidates who may have been paying attention to what you have been saying about your employer brand. Posting employee activities to Facebook, for example, can showcase your workplace culture. As a side benefit, today's savvy consumers also like to know that employees are being treated well.

Build Relationships

Most passive candidates find a new job by networking. Building relationships and networking with prospects can help even if they aren't ready to leave their current position. However, if you have already built a relationship, then they are more likely to come to you when they do want to leave, whether because they are stalled in advancement or want to relocate.

Networking with a mind to the future is always helpful.

Employee Referral Program

One of the best ways to find top talent is through referrals. Referred candidates tend to be higher quality, especially in terms of performance and retention. Because of this, an employee referral program is a great way to help you find passive candidates. However, be careful about simply offering rewards for names, as the better the employee knows the person, the better the result. Random people from social media are generally no better than the typical applicant pool.

Make sure that your program asks the referrer deep questions about what kind of employee the applicant might be, their strengths and weaknesses, work ethic, goals, etc. By making sure that they know the candidate well, you improve your chances of success and greatly increase the likelihood that the candidate will be somebody who is a good fit for your office culture. Avoid giving rewards for the most names (although this can be a good way to increase the reach of a job posting), but rather reward based on the quality of the information given.

Recruiting passive candidates can considerably increase the quality of your new hires. As passive candidates are generally well employed and may have been with an employer a while, they tend to be a better choice than typical active candidates. This does not mean you should abandon job postings and job fairs altogether, but rather expand your work to efforts to find and recruit passive candidates as well.

Subscribe to the Blog | Zamp HR