It can be hard to get an edge in the passive talent recruiting game: As soon as you poach a star from another company, it seems one is poached from you!

Fortunately, you can solve this problem. All you have to do is spend more time in the passive recruiting “sweet spot” than the competition does.

By “sweet spot,” I mean a very special 28 percent of the passive talent market that is not yet actively seeking, but ready to leave for the right opportunity. These candidates are much easier to attract than other, more passive candidates, but you also won’t have to deal with the same levels of competition that the active talent market encourages.

Think of it this way: This segment of the passive candidate market is not interviewing with anyone else, but still ready to move on. This is where every recruiter should spend most of their passive-candidate-recruiting energy.

But how does one identify these particular candidates?

You can do so by looking out for some very specific signs – many of which will appear on candidates’ social media profiles – if you want to find passive candidates who are ready to move. Here are seven of those signs that you’ll definitely want to pay attention to:

1. The Candidate Has Been in Their Current Role for an Extended Period of Time – Longer Than They’ve Been in Any Previous Roles

Candidates who have been in one specific job for a relatively long time – meaning they’ve held the same role at the same employer without being promoted – are candidates who may feel like they are in a career dead end. These kinds of candidates are likely to be part of the passive recruiting sweet spot. No one wants to be stuck in the same role for years on end.

2. The Candidate Seems Restless

People MovingPromotions are generally good, but too many promotions and title changes in a short period of time can indicate that a candidate is dissatisfied at their current place of employment. It can suggest that the employee is trying – but failing – to find a good long-term fit. If you can offer this restless candidate a more compatible role, they will likely be open to your advances.

3. The Candidate Is Becoming More Active on Social Media

According to the LinkedIn research cited above, passive candidates who are ready to move on often start by reaching out to their networks. If you find that certain candidates are showing sudden increases in their networking activity – e.g., joining more LinkedIn groups, commenting more often on industry blogs, making more connections – it could be a sign that these candidates are looking for new opportunities.

4. The Candidate Spends a Lot of Time on Facebook

If you are Facebook friends with candidates, you can get a good feeling for their level of engagement at work.

It should come as no surprise that Facebook is the most common way in which workers waste time. It follows, then, that if you see a passive candidate spending more and more time on Facebook, this may be a sign that they are becoming more and more disengaged at their current job.

Of course, a slacker who spends all their time on Facebook may not be the most attractive candidate on the market, but remember: If you can offer them the right job, you should have no trouble turning them into a highly engaged, highly productive member of your team.

5. The Candidate Just Passed a Key Milestone, Like an Employment Anniversary

Many people start to reflect on and reevaluate their careers when anniversaries roll around. The good news is that you can be ready for these reflective moments, thanks to LinkedIn, which generally announces workplace anniversaries. If LinkedIn alerts you to a candidate’s workplace anniversary, it’s time to pay attention: Upon reflection, the candidate may realize that they are ready to move on.

6. Influential Colleagues Are Leaving the Candidate’s Company

If there is high turnover at the candidate’s company – or if the candidate’s influential colleagues seem to be leaving the company – then there’s a good chance that the candidate is losing some of their support network. When the candidate’s connections leave, the candidate loses reasons to stay put, making them more open to external opportunities.

7. The Candidate’s Current Employer Is Involved in Some Merger and Acquisition Activity

Question MarkM&A activity brings with it a certain level of uncertainty, and this uncertainty can make employees yearn for some stability. If your organization can offer a candidate this much-needed stability, it may be time to strike.


If you focus your passive recruiting strategy on the right cohort of passive candidates, you will ensure that you get the best return on your efforts. Spend less time and money pursuing passive candidates who aren’t ready to make the jump. Watch for the warning signs and you’ll have no problem zeroing in on candidates who will be open to your opportunity.


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