7 Ways to Stand Out to Passive Candidates

By Paul Slezak - Jun. 29, 2016
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Editor’s Note: This post is by Paul Slezak, Cofounder and CEO of RecruitLoop – the World’s largest marketplace of expert Recruiters and Sourcers available on-demand.

Sourcing and engaging passive candidates is a relatively new phenomenon.

Ever heard the adage “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job?”

From the employee’s side that’s probably true. But what do you do if you’re the employer looking to hire someone who already has a job and is not actively looking for work?

This type of candidate is referred to as a passive candidate – someone who is not necessarily looking for a new job, but would be open to taking a new job if the right offer comes along.

Getting someone in this situation to be excited about your company can be a tough task.

Why would you seek out someone who is not looking for a new job?

The simplest reason is that often the people with exactly the skills you’re looking for are hard to come by. And when you find them, the timing might be that they have already found someone else. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to walk away without even trying to woo them.

Seeking out passive candidates as a prime aspect of your candidate sourcing strategy can be especially relevant when you’re looking to fill a role with someone who has very specific skills. Passive candidate recruiting is often the best way to find someone who best matches the skill set you’re looking for, rather than waiting on the ideal candidate to come to you.

How can you stand out to passive candidates?

By definition, the passive candidate is going to be tougher to engage than an active candidate. After all, when you find someone who appears to be perfect (on paper anyway), that person may not even be a passive candidate at all. They might not be willing to entertain offers, or it might take more than a casual comment to pique their interest.

The key is to not only give them a reason to jump ship but to also make it easy to do so. However, getting to that point in the conversation often takes time and persistence. Here are some tips to get there:

1. Use social media

Use social media to your advantage. It’s often one of the easiest places to find passive candidates who meet your criteria, and also one of the easiest ways to reach out.

2. Be personable

Be personable, not stuffy. Even if your organization prides itself on professionalism, people and personal interactions make all the difference when it comes to job satisfaction.

3. Ensure your application process is simple and easy to navigate

Alternatively, don’t even bother forcing a passive candidate to apply formally. After all, you’ve sought them out, why make them jump through hoops? There’s no point in getting someone all excited about the job only to have them get frustrated when they can’t even get to the next stage of the process with ease!

4. Be mobile enabled 

Ensure that all of your sites (the main company site, all social media profiles, application page if applicable, etc.) are mobile-friendly. Also, be sure they work without any glitches from any device. Optimizing for smartphone access should be a given, not an afterthought.

5. Put yourself in their shoes

Most people don’t like a cold call out of nowhere. That just feels spammy. Find something to break the ice such as a relevant group membership or industry event you could invite them to attend. Or find someone they’re already connected to and have that person arrange an introduction. This lets you contact them in a way that feels less sales-y so the candidate is less weary from the outset.

6. Make it easy for them to research you

That candidate is going to be Googling the heck out of you if they’re not already familiar with your company. Make it easy for them to find information from multiple sources (you do have multiple social media profiles for the company, don’t you?), and make sure the information they find is consistent in terms of the image it creates.

7. Be Persistent – but don’t become a stalker

Remember it might take multiple points of contact before a passive candidate will respond. They’re not actively looking, after all. Find balance  – don’t give up after one unanswered communication, but don’t become a stalker either.

Be warned, though. Going out to look for passive candidates by yourself will take a HUGE amount of time!

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Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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