5 Effective Techniques for Recruiting Passive Candidates

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Passive candidates are qualified candidates who are not actively looking for jobs. At least, that is the first and most conventional explanation. One more reason we call them “passive” candidates may be because they cannot find your job posts no matter how hard they search online. A third reason could be because even though they are looking for jobs, they don’t always end up submitting their application after finding one.

Whatever the reason for a candidate’s passivity may be, it is your duty to attract these highly qualified candidates to your company’s recruiting funnel. Here are five effective techniques I’ve successfully used to draw passive candidates to me:

1. Listen and Understand

Listen to the cues passive candidates give off to understand what makes them tick. They may not be so active in using social media and other technologies, but they do have access to these things. Even if they aren’t interested in your employer brand, they may have encountered you online before.

You need to understand that top-notch passive candidates are not attracted to the standard employee packages or marketing campaigns that are used to gain the attention of active job seekers. Passive candidates are generally comfortable in their current positions. They are not actively seeking new opportunities. However, they are open to hearing about opportunities for growth.

How do you listen to passive candidates when they aren’t part of your company yet? Use social media. Make sure you have a real face and a real name behind the corporate logo. Use research and analytics to find out which websites your passive candidates are visiting.

You do not need to use hyper-marketing to reach out to these passive candidates. If your brand is simply real and genuine, they’ll see this and appreciate it. If you offer them something of value, they’ll reciprocate.

I highly recommend reading Robert Cialdini’s book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade . I have listened to this book three times on Audible because of how accurately it speaks to how we can direct our audience’s attention where we want without signaling that we are influencing them. This method has been working for me very well when it comes to attracting passive candidates to my personal and employer brand.

2. Help Passive Candidates Find You

This could mean optimizing your website or job post so that it ranks highly in search results. This is a costly exercise that takes a lot of time and requires several experts to implement, monitor, and maintain.

Another piece of advice you can follow comes from Lou Adler, who called on recruiters to create bigger and better “apply” buttons. According to Adler, a small or hard-to-find “apply” button can deter people from applying to our job posts. And even when candidates do find the button, it’s often too easy to push – meaning people can apply for jobs without really considering whether or not a job is right for them.

jetIt is vital to consider the candidate experience when posting jobs online. Although active job seekers might want to submit 20 applications in a day, passive job seekers may consider submitting one or two resumes per month. When designing a recruiting funnel to attract passive candidates, recruiters must take into account what a passive candidate goes through by putting themselves in that candidate’s shoes and following the application submission process. A positive user experience aspect of your recruiting funnel will result in you being found and getting noticed.

If you find it challenging to create an attractive candidate experience that sets you apart from the average recruiter out there, work with a professional user experience (UX) designer and an experienced user interface (UI) developer to get this done.

3. Be a Subject Matter Expert

Most companies’ websites now feature blog sections, and most corporate social media pages now engage audiences through business stories and highlights. How can you use blogs and social media to attract passive candidates?

Aside from their usefulness in search engine optimization, these platforms can be utilized to show prospects what you know about the industry. By regularly publishing relevant articles, you can present yourself as a subject matter or industry expert rather than just a recruiter.

Passive candidates tend to spend more time reading industry-related articles and educating themselves than they do searching for jobs. You’ll have a better chance of catching their attention if you create an authoritative platform and stay consistently active on it.

In addition to posting articles, you can also leverage recruitment videos to make your blog and social media pages even more engaging. Using videos in your recruiting and employer branding campaigns will immediately set you apart from your competitors by adding a personal touch to your efforts and building brand recognition. Videos are extremely efficient in terms of attracting top-quality passive candidates who are looking for a better cultural fit in the companies they might choose to pursue.

In terms of content, your videos should focus on highlighting your company culture and showcasing your employees’ success stories. Keep the videos short, under two minutes each. Doing so allows candidates to watch the full video, even if they are very busy. Make sure you always include a call to action at the end of your video with clear instructions for the viewer to follow if they are interested in pursuing an opportunity with your company.

4. Get Referrals From Employees

For employers, this means creating an appropriate and attractive employee referral program. For recruiters, this means building strong enough relationships with current candidates that you would feel comfortable asking them if they have contacts who might be interested in any of the roles you are filling.

In general, employee referral programs result in the quickest and highest-quality hires. According to Jobvite, 39.9 percent of new hires over the last decade were made through employee referrals. Furthermore, candidates hired through referrals are hired 55 percent faster than those who come through a career site.

Your employees are likely to refer candidates who have the skills and knowledge your company needs because they already know what it’s like to work for your organization. They know what kinds of candidates you are looking for and what it takes to be successful in your work environment.

sky5. Host Networking Events (or Networking Parties)

Please don’t host another networking event with the intention of recruiting everyone who comes. Instead, you should plan a professional networking party – something cool, fresh, and clearly fun to attend. Otherwise, passive candidates won’t show up. I’m sure you don’t want to spend time and money organizing an event only to be surrounded by a bunch of desperate job seekers aching for a paycheck and whatever job you’ll give them!

Use this strategy to differentiate yourself from other recruitment firms and attract passive candidates who otherwise wouldn’t come hang out with you. This is your chance to expand your network, so don’t forget to ask for referrals while sipping on a glass of fine wine.

When marketing these events online, you should target prospects who are currently working already. Your job is to connect with them and build relationships before inviting them to these events. That way, they will be aware of your honest intention – which isn’t to recruit them immediately.

If a prospect asks if your event is about networking for a job right away, you should reply with something along the lines of, “No, this is for us to get to know each other better and understand what inspires people to follow certain career paths. We would love to learn more about you so we can be proactive in building and strengthening our relationships.”

An answer like that will make you look professional in the eyes of passive candidates, and it will position you as a credible thought leader who is after meaningful conversation, not someone who simply wants to fill a bunch of jobs fast.

I hope you liked some of these techniques and strategies for attracting and recruiting passive candidates. If you have any suggestions of your own for recruiting passive candidates, please share in the comments!

Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is inspired by motivating confidence in engineers.

By Nader Mowlaee