6 best tips for hiring passive candidates

passive candidates

One of the main challenges that recruiters face is that most ideal candidates already have a job. They are not present in the job market, and the traditional way of inviting job applications is not enough to hire them. These are the passive candidates, and they have become the talk of the town. And for a good reason.

A study found that passive candidates tend to perform better. They also tend to stay with an organisation for a longer duration. 

What are passive candidates?


Passive candidates are the ones who are not actively looking for a job change. They are currently employed and perhaps, satisfied in the current workplaces. They may not be visiting job websites or looking for a job on social media. 

However, they form a major chunk of the talent pool. As per a survey by Linkedin, 70% of the global workforce is comprised of passive candidates. The remaining 30% is not always enough to find the ideal candidates. 

There are some specific instances when recruiters want to look at this category of candidates. For example, when an organisation is trying their hands at something new. In such situations, the best way forward is to onboard experienced minds for higher chances of success.

Passive candidates are also considered to be better hires for leadership roles or mission-critical positions.

How can recruiters hire passive candidates?

Organisations cannot hire passive candidates overnight. It is a long-drawn process which requires a carefully-drawn method and continuous efforts in that direction.

Passive candidates can be categorised into two buckets. The ones who are content in their current jobs, and the ones who are not so. The latter category is more accessible and simpler to hire. Here are 6 tips to hire passive candidates –

1. Build a strong employer brand

An employer brand is the way candidates perceive an organisation as an employer. It may include the way a company values its employees, offers opportunities and invests in their growth. From the organisation’s point of view, it is the set of activities that makes them the employer of choice. 

Building a strong employer brand can deliver exceptional results for an organisation. Apart from attracting talent, it is also instrumental in retaining the current workforce. Thus, it should always be a top priority for the HR departments.

Since the passive candidates are not looking for a job change, they may respond coldly to your calls regarding job openings. However, a strong employer brand may motivate them to listen and consider your proposition. Usually, they would like to associate themselves with organisations that resonate their values and beliefs. 

To begin with, you may want to relook at your mission and vision statements. These two things define your organisation’s working style and the way of doing business. It is what all the employees breathe and talk about when they are in the office.

The next step is to align all the employee-related policies and activities to your mission and vision statements. It may include everything from pay packages to the culture to promotions.

Doing good work is not always enough. In today’s time, it is also crucial to spread the word. Apart from putting up on your careers website, you can use different social media channels to your advantage. However, there are no better message-bearers than your employees. They can help you in marketing your narrative like nothing else.

To get them on board, have your CXO’s lead the message. Apart from bringing better engagement, it will help in garnering more trust from your employees. Make sure certain phrases that reflect your employer branding like integrity, merit, community service etc. become a part of the company’s vernacular. 

Lastly, have your employees speak about you on their social media accounts. Showcase their talent and expertise by encouraging them to speak at conferences and public events. When you do this, they will feel more valued and become more loyal to the organisation. As this happens, they will gradually spread a good word about you in their social circles.

2. Understand your current and future staffing needs

Connections play a crucial role in hiring passive candidates. However, these relationships are not built overnight. As a recruiter, you need to keep a tab on the talent in the market and work on building long-lasting relationships.

The number of passive candidates in the market can be huge. For successful hiring, you will need to adopt a focussed approach to attract the right kind of candidates. 

To do this, it may help to assess your current and future staffing needs. The best way would be to have ongoing discussions with the hiring managers and the leaders to anticipate the skills gap. For instance, your organisation in the technology sector could be planning to venture into digital transformation. In that case, you will need the right talent to carry it on. 

Another effective way to identify your target pool of candidates is mapping the structures of your competitors. 

3. Locate passive candidates

This step is perhaps the most significant one in the process of hiring candidates who are not looking for jobs. To source these candidates, you will have to go where they go and do what they do. For instance, you may have to visit networking events and join webinars that they are attending. 

It is best to adopt a multi-pronged approach and make use of other channels to source passive candidates. 

  • Social media channels – Professional networking sites are perhaps the best places to know about and connect with passive candidates. You can take professional packages to source them. For instance, Linkedin offers different packages to help you source the right candidates. Moreover, it is an effective platform for promoting your employer brand. Apart from creating your own employer page, you can also ask your employees to share the content on their personal pages.
  • Employee referrals – CareerBuilder found that employee referrals deliver the best ROIs amongst all other sourcing strategies. 

    Designing and implementing employee referral schemes is not as easy as posting jobs on job boards. It has to be a well-thought process with each step clearly stated for everyone’s understanding. Moreover, it requires approval from senior management so that everyone is on the same page.
  • Technology – As passive candidates will hit your careers website, you will need a stronger way to engage them. They may not be comfortable connecting with a recruiter in the early stages of the hiring process. However, they may still have several questions about the job or the organisation.

You can leverage technology to share the right information and provide answers to their queries. With the upcoming Job discovery bot from Impress, you will be able to engage with the visitors of your careers website. Apart from providing the required information, the bot will also be able to analyse if the visitor is a potential candidate and can also share the relevant job openings with them.

4. Engage the candidates 

It won’t be wrong to say that relation-building is the foundation of hiring passive candidates. These talented people are not looking for jobs, and convincing them is going to take a lot more than attractive pay packages. 

The recruiters need to look at it from a long-term perspective. To start, you can send email messages, send texts or initiate conversations on social media platforms. However, nothing works as well as picking your phone and having a warm yet professional conversation with them. Remember they are not actively looking for a job and could be cold in their response at first. At this point, it is essential to allow them to move at their pace. 

If you are sending emails, try to keep them personal, short and catchy. If you write a generic email, they may shun it as another spam and even unsubscribe.

As you write or call them, remember that a little sincere flattery never hurt anyone. Do not share all the details in the first conversation. Instead, ask them if they would be keen in any upcoming positions that may open up in the next couple of months.

5. Involve the hiring manager

There are good chances that you may have limited knowledge of the role in consideration. If you come across an exceptionally talented candidate, involve the hiring managers for further discussions. The hiring managers may be able to sell the position more realistically. Moreover, the hiring managers may also offer a bigger role as they fit.

6. The interview and offer

Finally, make the application and the interview process easy for the passive candidates. They are not eagerly looking out for a job change, and a sour experience may disengage them forever. 

Similarly, at the time of making the final offer, understand the candidate’s expectations. Try not to offer something that the candidate may decline straightaway. Similarly, do not make the job change sound like a lateral move. Instead, offer something bigger that may be a better move for their career. 

Conclusion

Passive candidates comprise a significant portion of the talent pool. Hiring them is essential for filling the skill gaps and enhancing the overall talent capability.

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