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It’s Time to Revisit your Passive Candidate Recruiting Strategy

In today’s tight labor market, more recruiters are focusing on passive candidates. The Great Resignation of 2021 has taken the recruitment market from client-driven to candidate driven, not only because of conditions caused by the pandemic, but the retirement of the boomer generation. This means that competition for talent is high.

In March 2022, 4.5M people quit their jobs. While it’s unlikely to get worse, this still demonstrates that plenty of people are considering a change in employment, even if they haven’t pulled the trigger yet. This is the perfect time to recruit those passive candidates.

Passive candidates are people who are not actively looking for a job, but they would consider a change in employment. According to LinkedIn in 2015, 70% of the global workforce is composed of passive candidates. Passive candidates are less likely to require skills development since they are coming from a similar position, saving you time on training. They also already have proven skills, and can be the key to closing skill gaps in your company.

How to find passive candidates

Any change to your recruiting strategy should begin with assessing your current and future staffing needs. This includes not only job positions but skills needed. You can do a skill evaluation of current employees, including identifying how skill growth happens at your workplace, and where it needs to improve. A big picture look at your staffing needs is especially relevant for passive talent—they may not immediately be ready to consider a new position, but will in the future. 

Next is research. Where can you reach your passive candidates, both digitally and physically? They may be on job boards, at networking events or conferences, in alumni networks or employee-created networks like on social media. What about your workplace will entice candidates from their current job? This might be perks, benefits, company culture, hybrid office options, salary or company values. 

One of the top reasons recruiters use social media is to target passive candidates. Growing your employer brand on social media gets the word out that yours is a great workplace, and may resonate with passive candidates who share your values. LinkedIn is the biggest platform for passive recruiting, and has subscriptions for recruiters that provides data for sourcing candidates, as well as an “advanced people search” tool. Since LinkedIn is a professional social site, it’s the perfect place to tap networking events and share rich information about your industry to draw attention to your employer brand.

You might also consider using HR technology to access talent databases, deliver messaging and track your connections. Other places to find passive candidates are through employee referral programs, and reconnecting with past applications who did not end up at your company.

Enticing passive candidates

One of the best ways to get a candidate’s interest is to reach out to them directly. Direct recruiting is contacting someone directly, person-to-person, whether to make an offer or simply get your company on their radar. Being recruited directly makes a candidate feel valued, and they are more likely to consider applying or accepting a position. Personal and specific is key here. Top candidates may have multiple offers from your competition, but if you take the time to learn about their work history and priorities, you can make a stellar first impression. 

A passive candidate may not be ready to jump ship now, but there are ways to keep their interest so that they will consider you when they want to change employers. Email marketing can be used to maintain your connection, by sending them quality industry information and networking opportunities. Don’t pressure them to apply, but keep your passive candidate pool up to date with your employer brand and industry developments at large. 

A simple thing you can do to ensure passive candidates actually apply when they’re ready, is to make your application process easy. A candidate who is already employed might not have time for a long and arduous application process. In fact, it’s important to keep in mind that you are selling the job to them. Tailor interview questions to them, and keep in mind that they may very well have other offers.

With the tight labor market and many people considering leaving their current jobs, recruiting passive candidates is more important than ever. Don’t wait for them to come to you—take proactive steps to grow your passive talent pool and maintain quality communication with those who are interested.

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