How to Engage Your Passive Candidates

According to LinkedIn research, the top challenge that nearly half of all recruiters face today is finding suitable candidates. In a competitive market, passive candidates can be a good source of talent for your organization. These are the candidates who have a few years of career experience under their belts, but aren’t actively seeking a new role. The ideal passive candidates have demonstrated loyalty to an employer, likely completed a few higher level projects, and possess the sought out skills that can be hard to find.

One of the biggest challenges for recruiters is how to engage with passive candidates without making them feel pestered. This requires tactfulness and caution. At the same time, a passive candidate may be contacted by other recruiters, so it becomes even more critical to be heard above the noise. It’s best when a recruiter connects with a highly qualified candidate before the competition captures their interest.

How can recruitment professionals engage more passive candidates? And, once they have their attention, what are some ways to convince them to choose your company? Here are six tips to set your organization apart:

1. Review the Candidate’s Work History

A passive candidate is not looking for a new job, but somewhere around 75 percent of the workforce is open to a new opportunity if the right one comes their way. Recruiters can review a passive candidates’ work, accomplishments, and career progression for signs that he or she might be open to a new opportunity. These signs can include: frequent updates to one’s social media profile (career-related), inactivity for a few years, and the amount of time between job switches (is one coming up?).

2. Get to Know the Candidate

You have one chance to make a first impression on a candidate. Do your homework to learn about the candidate’s interests and efforts. Look for articles they have published on blogs or trade magazines. Note any industry influencers that they associate with on social networks. Get to know the candidate and build a profile in your recruitment software before reaching out, so you can connect to them on a more personal level.

3. Understand What the Candidate Wants

As you read over the candidate's profiles, take a look at how the candidate has moved through his or her career. Note things like increased responsibilities, new projects, and training. What companies or leaders does the candidate look at as mentors? How high in the chain has the candidate moved? This will help you come up with an introduction and a future offer that is worth their time.

4. Use the Candidate’s Network to Approach

Connect with passive candidates by tapping into their network. Join industry groups that the candidate is part of. Start contributing content and job leads. Look to see if there are any common interests and connections in your own network. Ask to be introduced to the candidate through one of your connections. This is a less forward approach to someone who otherwise doesn't know you.

5. Invite the Candidate to Learn More

Once you have connected successfully with a passive candidate, take the time to foster this new relationship. Let the candidate know you’ve read one of their articles and you enjoyed it. Ask the candidate if they would like to meet virtually over a phone call. Let the candidate know about the company you represent, and invite them to check out the career portal or a new opportunity that may suit their abilities.

6. Create a Unique Offer for the Candidate

A passive candidate may show some interest at this time, so take advantage of the engagement and create a reasonable career offer. Work with the management team to find the right role for the candidate. It will be an insult to offer anything below his or her current level. If the candidate is not ready to make a change now, continue to follow up periodically with the candidate to re-engage.

An interesting study conducted by Mattersight indicated that 80 percent of people would accept a job over another purely based on the personal relationship formed during the interview process. If you engage with passive candidates in the right way, you’ll build an authentic connection that will help you understand what piques their interest and could attract them to your organization.  

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