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Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting passive candidates is one of the most difficult and time consuming functions for any seasoned recruiter.  This is where a recruiter’s sales prowess is really tested, and I don’t mean using car salesman tactics, but more listening, patience, and persistence.

A “passive candidate” is any qualified individual that is currently employed and not necessarily looking to change jobs, but is interested if the right opportunity comes along.  I always assume that people are open to new opportunities and will listen to your proposal if presented the right way.  The key here is to be professional and to make a solid first contact to open the conversation.  This week’s topic will cover some tips and hints for recruiting passive candidates.

Did you know that passive candidates make up 84% of the workforce?  That means recruiters often need to “poach” or act like a traditional “headhunter” to get the high-quality candidates.  But before you pick up the phone, make sure you have all your ducks in a row.  For example, is your offer attractive enough to get their attention?  Have you checked their LinkedIn profile to make sure they’re open to job offers?

Many times it’s all about timing.  Your candidate may be just starting to look around, but they’re not necessarily the type to job hop, so don’t rush in and overwhelm them.  Accept that this process takes time, especially if your position will require moving.  Make sure to open the conversation with a professional phone call or email.  Using LinkedIn messaging is another option, but don’t expect a quick reply as many people don’t check their inbox very often.

Should I call them at work?   Absolutely.  But again, be sure to be polite and professional.  These days most every well-qualified engineering or IT professional expects to get their share of calls from recruiters.  Most everyone is receptive and is willing to listen to the details of the opportunity, and give a polite “no thanks” or “can you call me later”.  I’ve rarely experienced someone that was upset I called them at work.

Always let your passive candidates know you like talking with them and enjoy connecting.  People love talking about themselves and their careers, and once they feel comfortable, will start to tell you what they’re seeking for a next move.  This is the time to take notes on their real reasons to act and how the recruiter can craft an offer to explore more seriously.

There are going to be times when you just have let them come to YOU – make contact, ask them to think about it, and get back to you.  That’s just the way it is.

One final tip – have some constant job postings to attract good candidates year round, even if you’re not necessarily seeking someone for the position.  Sometimes it’s just good to have steady trickle of good resumes for hard-to-fill positions.


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