Recruiting Passive Candidates: An In-Depth Guide to Hiring Excellence‍

Connor Keppel

Here’s a tough reality for recruiters: their dream candidates may already be satisfied in their current roles. On the bright side, a timely appealing offer just might change their mind.

And while recruiting agencies rely on automation tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to stay competitive in the talent race, they shouldn’t neglect an often unexplored goldmine of passive candidates.

This article will dive into the concept of passive candidates, their significance, and expert tips on how to recruit them effectively.

What Are Passive Candidates and How to Recruit Them?

Passive candidates are individuals who aren’t actively searching for a new job – unless a better opportunity comes along. They’re often highly-qualified professionals who are pleased with their current jobs and who could bring valuable expertise to organisations.

By the way, ignoring passive candidates means missing out on a significant talent pool, as they make up around 80% of the workforce.

With that in mind, recruiting these hidden gems requires a unique approach that differs from traditional recruitment strategies. These candidates’ primary motivation isn’t finding a job – it’s finding the perfect job for their current stage, i.e., an upgrade from their current job.

So your passive candidate recruitment strategy needs to involve creating a compelling employer brand, leveraging networking opportunities, and building meaningful relationships with potential candidates.

Why Recruit Passive Candidates?

Recruiting passive candidates offers more than just access to top talent. These job-seekers often have a stable work history and rich skill sets. Plus, they tend to be more loyal to the companies they work for due to their long-term mindset.

Granted, someone in a successful career isn’t easily compelled to switch companies, except when they have a strong reason to seek long-term fulfilment. If they encounter an organisation with a culture they’re passionate about, they’re more likely to be interested.

There’s a reason why that happens. According to the global executive search and HR solutions company Personnel Search Services Group:

“When you hire an employee you passively sourced, they’ll likely have the skills you were already looking for. Because of that, they have a higher chance of being a successful hire. They do not want to waste anyone’s time, especially their own. The mindset of passive candidates is very different from active ones, and they are usually more career-driven.”

Passive candidates are also unlikely to be interviewing with multiple companies. Luckily for you, that means less competition.

Understanding the Difference Between Active vs Passive Candidates 

The main difference between active and passive candidates lies in their motivators and behaviours.

Active candidates apply to jobs for multiple reasons. Some of them may be dissatisfied with their current positions. Some may be pursuing a better work-life balance. Others may be outright desperate, blindly applying to multiple job postings in hopes that one will stick (yeah, those ones).

In contrast, passive candidates don’t feel pressured to switch jobs anytime soon. However, those who are open to change need the right approach followed by a juicy, persuasive offer. They’re free to choose – and they’ll choose wisely.

According to business management software provider The Access Group, “Passive candidates are not in any rush to make a career move and will need to be fully convinced that any job change will fit them – and this doesn’t just include their prospective new to-do list. They’ll be looking for a stable working environment, room for training and development, and a welcoming, open team environment to truly consider a move for the long run.”

Needless to say, traditional sourcing approaches won’t pan out. You’ll need to go the extra mile, as winning them over requires a different set of strategies and tools.

Expert Strategies to Recruit Passive Candidates

The key to successfully recruiting passive candidates lies in your approach. Here are a few strategies that can help you attract the best talent:

Optimise your employer branding: Creating a strong employer brand can help you attract the right talent by articulating your organisation’s mission, values, and culture to potential job candidates. This requires close collaboration with client organisations to better understand their unique employer value proposition and company culture. Your recruiting agency can also use their online platforms to share stories, photos and videos that demonstrate their strong track record and commitment to candidate success.

Focus on networking: Creating and nurturing a strong professional network can give you access to potential candidates for future roles. You can do that by actively engaging in industry events, conferences, and seminars to connect with professionals and build relationships. Don’t forget to build an online professional network on LinkedIn!

Invest in referral programs: A referral program can help you leverage your employees’ personal networks effectively. Your current employees can be your best source of new talent, as candidates who come through referrals are usually more qualified and faster to hire.

Additional Ways of Sourcing Passive Candidates

Recruiting passive candidates demands a strategic, yet creative approach that includes leveraging online platforms, industry events, and social media. Here are a few extra tips:

Go beyond traditional social media: Look past LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Platforms like GitHub, StackOverflow, Dribbble, and Behance can also house potential candidates. Ideally, you should follow them and consistently engage with their content before reaching out to them with your job opportunity.

Participate in industry events: Attending industry events and networking sessions can get you in touch with plenty of potential candidates. Connecting with passive candidates in person builds better trust and rapport. Use sites like Meetup and Eventbrite to find relevant events in your industry.

Level up your job descriptions: Focus on what makes the job unique and how it can benefit the potential candidate’s career. Tools like Ongig’s Text Analyzer can help you write powerful, unbiased job descriptions for higher chances of persuading the best talent.

Engage in targeted outreach: Targeted outreach involves identifying suitable candidates and crafting personalised messages that highlight key motivators. This demonstrates a genuine understanding of their background and career goals, increasing the chances of attracting their interest in new opportunities.

The Benefits of Recruiting Passive Candidates

The advantages of recruiting passive candidates are numerous. By expanding your recruitment efforts to include passive candidates, you can:

Get early access to top talent: By not relying solely on job seekers, you can reach a wider range of qualified professionals who may not have otherwise applied for your job opening.

Reduce time-to-hire: Getting early access to qualified talent speeds up your whole hiring process. Combine it with resume reformatting tools like Allsorter, and you should be connecting ideal candidates to clients in no time.

Improve DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) in the workplace: Engaging passive candidates improves workforce diversity by attracting more individuals with unique perspectives and backgrounds.

Navigating the Challenges of Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting passive candidates can be challenging, as they may be less receptive and require stronger persuasion.

In this context, “persuasion” doesn’t always involve mentioning a higher salary. In fact, this is rarely the case with happily employed individuals. Again, a passive candidate’s motivations often run deeper than money goals.

That’s why targeted outreach is crucial – it helps recruiters understand a candidate’s current situation and effectively show how a job opportunity aligns with their career goals.

Or, they can say “no.” In which case, it’s on to the next one.

Elevate Your Recruitment Efforts with Passive Candidates

Recruiting passive candidates calls for a delicate balance of strategy, creativity, and patience. It’s about understanding their motivations, offering them a compelling opportunity at the right moment, and building a relationship of trust.

When done right, passive recruiting can open doors to a pool of highly skilled candidates who can boost your organisation’s growth and success.

Are you ready to supercharge your recruitment efforts and attract top talent? Start recruiting passive candidates today!