Passive Candidates: An Ultimate Guide for Small Businesses
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Passive candidates are people who are usually already employed and not actively looking to leave their present jobs. Because of this, they are often overlooked in the job market. However, passive candidates often have great skills and qualifications that make them ideal for certain roles.
Employers seek them out for many reasons, including their higher retention rates and the fact that there are so many of them. How you go about recruiting them is very different from you would an active candidate; you’ll need to rely on a mix of strategies, including social networking, employee referrals, and recruiting even when you don’t have a current opening.
Passive vs Active Candidates: What’s the Difference
Active job seekers are people who apply to your company’s open jobs advertisements, whether on your company website, a job board, the local paper, or in person. Passive job candidates, on the other hand, are usually not even looking for other employment opportunities but might be willing to join your organization if properly enticed and motivated.
Although most passive candidates are not actively searching for a job change, many will casually (or passively) look at job boards, network, and snoop around within their industry to see what opportunities are out there. This is important for hiring managers to know, as there is typically more work required to get the attention of passive job seekers since they do not generally apply to job postings as active job seekers do.
Importance of Attracting Passive Candidates for Your Business
Passive candidates are important for your business because they represent more stable, longer-serving employees and often have solid and experienced skill sets. This makes them valued assets for their present employers and makes them appealing additions to your own team.
In addition to simply providing a larger pool of candidates for you to recruit from, passive candidates can help you fill unique or specialized positions and often will remain with your company longer. Click through the tabs below for more on each of these benefits.
When you look for passive candidates to recruit, in addition to active candidates, you open your search up to a larger pool of potential hires. Adding passive candidates to your options can more than double the number of qualified candidates you are looking for when filling open positions. Take advantage of this increase by reaching out to all possible candidates.
Many companies with a passive candidate strategy have one because they have positions in their organizations that are difficult to fill. Many employers with a position that requires someone with unique skill sets end up experiencing breakthroughs when they focus their best efforts on passive candidates within the industry.
Employees recruited as passive candidates tend to remain longer with their company than those recruited through other means. This may be because there was more careful consideration by the candidate (as well as the employer) due to the luxury of getting to remain with their current employer if an opportunity isn’t just right. Opportunities are so scrutinized that when job changes are made by passive candidates, they tend to pay off for both parties involved.
How To Successfully Recruit Passive Candidates
Hiring new employees is always a time-consuming task. However, knowing how to get in front of the passive candidates that can fill complex jobs will make your team better. Here are some of our recommended best practices for recruiting passive candidates.
Establish a Strong Company Brand
Most passive job seekers will check out your company once contact is made (even if they have no desire to make a move). Curiosity will demand that they click on your company’s website and social media accounts.
If you have not established a solid employer brand, make that change today. Ensure that you have the following set up before courting passive candidates:
- Your company’s main webpage should promote your company, what it does, and how it is changing the world.
- Your career page also needs to be beefed up with a listing of benefits, its corporate social responsibilities (CSR) initiatives, and other attributes that promote the employee work experience.
- All your social media platforms need to be dynamic and engaging for multiple cultures and generations.
Diversify Your Strategy for Recruiting Passive Candidates
If your plan is to post your job opportunities on LinkedIn, Indeed, your website, and other job boards and that is it, you will fail. Passive candidates are not monitoring these institutional job boards because most of the time, they are not even looking at what is available in the job market.
To diversify your recruiting strategy so that you attract and find the right employees, consider implementing the following:
- Utilize your company’s social media platforms: Even though passive candidates are not looking at job boards, they may be signed up for your company’s newsletters, blogs, social postings, and so on. Social media is also the best method to use to reach out to make a first contact.
- Post your job opportunity internally: Letting your employees in on what is going on and that you have an exciting opportunity to fill will get multiple stakeholders (i.e., your employees) working on your behalf.
Use LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions Tool
LinkedIn has a tool that can be a game-changer, LinkedIn Talent Solutions, and it allows you to launch a vast search within LinkedIn’s database using artificial intelligence (AI). You can expand your searches beyond your personal LinkedIn connections and have access to over 830 million LinkedIn members.
LinkedIn Talent Solutions offers 20+ smart and simple-to-use search filters and recommendations. Plus, LinkedIn’s new “Find more people like” feature lets you create a search based on ideal candidates you may know. This is one of the most efficient ways to gather potential passive candidates you may want to connect with.
After locating passive candidates you want to connect to, you can contact any LinkedIn member via InMail directly from your LinkedIn Talent Solutions tool. You can select from a number of customized templates to reach out to candidates quickly through InMail.
Limit Application Requirements
If you want passive candidates who find your recruitment ad to complete a lengthy application, online or otherwise, you will lose top talent to other companies who do not require such measures.
Having candidates fill out an employment application helps weed out people who are not truly interested in your company (by requiring them to expend extra effort to fill the two-plus page application). However, if you want to capture passive candidates who may be dynamite opportunities for your company, ditch the employment application or find a way to remove it from the initial step in your recruitment process. Their employment history, skill sets, and overall experience are all listed on their resume, which is all you need to begin assessing them.
Find Their Motivator
In addition to being flattered, passive job seekers will need a reason to give up their current position to come join your team. Having said that, everyone is different and has different needs and priorities. It is your job to find their driving motivator. What is it that they want more than anything that they are not getting from their present employer?
Typical motivators include:
- Better compensation
- Increased benefits
- Remote work and/or a flexible schedule
- Work/life balance
- Opportunities for advancement
- Better fit for skillset
A survey conducted by Gallup in early 2022 stated that 64% of job candidates are seeking higher pay and better benefits than their current positions offer. In fact, they say it is a critical factor in their decision of whether or not to accept a job offer.
Ask for Referrals
Employee referrals remain the most direct, reliable, and speedy way to hire passive job seekers. If you are talking to an employee who is a great team member and has a wonderful skill set, it stands to reason that any friend or acquaintance they refer for a job would share similar qualities.
Set up a referral program that offers a bonus for referring a candidate that gets hired. Amounts can range from $100 to a couple of thousand dollars for a successful referral (typically a new hire still with the company after 90 days).
Get a Jump on Recruiting
One of the hardest things to do is to keep your mind open to seeing amazing talent when you are presently not in need of it (that is, you do not have any open positions). However, this is the best time to seek out and court passive candidates for the future. Think of planting seeds as your goal for your first point of contact.
After getting a referral or finding someone on social media channels, you should reach out to introduce yourself and your company, as well as describe the potential opportunity for them. End your dialog with a comment such as, “I understand you’re not currently looking to make a career move, but my job is to find the best talent possible for <XYZ Company>. I’ve identified you as someone with the skills and expertise we’re looking for. If you are interested in learning more about our company, please let me know.”
Long-term investment (frequent, no-pressure check-ins over time) is often required to get the passive candidates worth waiting for.
To successfully recruit passive candidates it takes work and time to solicit them. It is important to keep in mind that these candidates are not actively looking for a job, so you will need to put in a little extra effort to find them. Utilize all of your resources, including social media, job boards, and employee referrals, to find the best candidates. And be patient—it may take some time to find the right person for the job.