Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting Passive Candidates

Ask any seasoned recruiter – recruiting passive candidates is one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of the job.  Recruiting passive candidates forces us to put on our salesperson hats and really sell our agency and the open position (or positions).

This post will cover some tips and hints for recruiting passive candidates, but before we go further…

What is a “Passive Candidate”?

A “passive candidate” is any qualified individual that is currently employed. They are not actively looking to change jobs, but may be interested should the right opportunity come along.

Personally, I always assume that people are open to new opportunities and will listen to your proposal if it is presented the right way.  The key here is to stay professional and to make a solid first contact to open the conversation.

Did you know that passive candidates make up 84% of the workforce?  That means recruiters often need to act like a traditional headhunter to poach the right high-quality candidates.  Before you pick up the phone to try to recruit a passive candidate, it’s important to have all your ducks in a row.  For example, is your offer attractive enough to get their attention?

Also, be sure to check the candidates LinkedIn profile to make sure they’re open to job offers. The last thing you want to do is become known for bothering or harassing candidates.

Often, it’s all about timing.  Your candidate may be starting to look around, but not necessarily the type to job hop. Don’t rush in and overwhelm them.  This process takes time, particularly if the position will require relocation or other big changes.  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 regularly.

Can I call them at work?  

Absolutely.  But again, be sure to be polite and professional.  These days most qualified engineering or IT professional expects to get their share of calls from recruiters.  In general, people are receptive and willing to listen to the details of the opportunity. If they are not interested or busy, they will simply give a polite “no thanks” or “can you call me later”.  No harm no foul. I’ve made these calls many times and never experienced someone that was upset I called them at work.

Always let passive candidates know you enjoyed talking with them and connecting.  People love talking about themselves and their careers, and once they feel comfortable, they will start to tell you what they’re seeking long-term.  This is the perfect opportunity to take mental notes in order to craft the perfect offer.

Of course, 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.  It’s always beneficial to have a steady trickle of good resumes for hard-to-fill positions coming in.


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