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RECRUITMENT ADVERTISING STRATEGY: How to Get Passive Candidates to your career site

All talent acquisition professionals know passive candidates - those high-performing professionals who are content in their jobs - make the best clients. Targeting passive job seekers is a smart addition to any recruitment advertising strategy. If it isn’t part of your strategy, you’re most likely missing out on high quality candidates.

Passive job seekers make the perfect candidate, but it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. 


Talent aquisition professionals are challenged to find good candidates. A 2017 Jobvite Recruiter Nation Survey found that 65 percent of recruiters cite a lack of skilled candidates as their biggest obstacle. Passive candidates are desirable in that they are most likely to have the skills and qualifications recruiters are looking for. They’re already employed, which means they are less likely to be interviewing with someone else. 

According to LinkedIn Talent Solutions, passive job seekers identified new career opportunities as a top factor when considering a career change. This means passive candidates will be passionate and driven in their new position. They want to advance or take on new responsibilities.  

Passive candidates are also driven to make positive changes in the world and at work. More than likely, these employees want to make an impact. The right motivators, like company culture or more challenging work, can lure them away from their current position.

A portrait of the passive job seeker

Passive job candidates may do some casual networking or get notifications from job boards. They’re generally satisfied with their current position and responsibilities. They’re proven performers and they aren’t actively searching for a new job. According to Glassdoor, 84 percent of people would leave their current position if offered a job with a company that has a great brand. They’re just waiting for the right opportunity - the opportunity you can offer them.

For example, Jamie, a perfect candidate, is a passive job seeker. She’s a productive employee with several years of experience who works for your competitor. She's educated, motivated and proactive. She’s a SME, a subject matter expert so she reads industry blogs and online publications to keep up with the latest industry trends. Occassionally, she will do some job searches but nothing too serious or frequent. If she is offered the right incentive, she will make a move to a new company. Jamie is a recruiter’s dream candidate, but she’s hard to find.

Engage with passive candidates

It's time to think like a marketer and determine what will appeal to your ideal candidate. You have to think about sites they might visit online so you can put your brand and message in front of them. They’re not on job sites like Careerbuilder or Indeed. They are on traditional sites and social media.

A robust digital campaign using banner ads is an easy, cost-effective way to target these passive job seekers. A branded message can play up your company culture or company values.

Jamie may be reading or She’s on Facebook and Twitter every day. These are the online places you need to be to get your message in front of the right people so your company can stay top of mind with passive job seekers.

Passive job seekers may be generally content in their current role, but they aren’t averse to making the jump to a different company. Better compensation or benefits, better work/life balance and greater opportunity for advancement all play a part in the decision to change jobs. By putting your message out there on sites your ideal candidate may be frequenting, you can make passive candidates aware of the benefits your company offers.

A little creativity and out of the box thinking can go a long way. With the right tactics as a part of your recruitment strategy, you will be able to find the highly qualified candidates you need.

In part two of this blog series, I’ll discuss digital strategy as an easy, cost-effective way to tap into the passive candidate pool. 

Click here to learn more about how you can target candidates who didn’t know they’d be interested in a new opportunity with low-cost advertising on the websites they frequent.

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