Attracting Passive Candidates: Ways to Secure Top Talent

Hand moving a puzzle piece with a job candidate on top

Finding the right candidate for an open position in your company can be challenging. You may be getting a lot of applicants, but none have the right qualifications or skills to fill the position. This is especially true when using an online application process, making some recruitment aspects easier. Still, unfortunately, that ease of process also means you will receive a lot of unqualified candidates. If you’ve been posting positions online and doing the usual recruitment work and still feel that you aren’t being matched with the best possible candidates, it could be time to look into implementing out-of-the-box recruitment strategies. One of those strategies is to target passive job candidates. 

What Are Passive Job Candidates?

Passive job candidates are people who are not actively looking for a job. They are content with their current employment but are open to a new job if the right opportunity presents itself. These types of candidates are attractive for many reasons. For one, since they are not actively seeking other opportunities, they will likely only be interviewing with you. This means that the time you spend interviewing and researching them is more likely to result in a hire than a candidate who is interviewing with ten firms.

Also, they currently hold a position similar to the one you seek to fill, so that training will be easier than with someone in a different field or skill set. Since they are currently employed, they are not desperate to take just any job to pay the bills. They will only consider jobs in which they have a real interest. This makes it more likely that they will stay on for the long term and that they will be satisfied in the position.  

The Difference Between Active and Passive Candidates

Active candidates are actively looking for a new jobs. They’re searching job boards, sending out applications, and may be interviewing with one or more companies. Active candidates are ready to engage with employers, which means they’re receptive to recruitment marketing and will be more likely to engage with outreach from recruiters. Inbound recruiting strategies, like writing blog posts and building your employer brand, can be useful for bringing active candidates to your doorstep.

Passive candidates, on the other hand, aren’t actively seeking out content about employment. They may or may not be receptive to contact from recruiters, which means there may be more friction to overcome in some of your conversations with passive candidates. They’re also less likely to respond to inbound recruiting and will require heavier use of outbound recruiting strategies like cold emailing. In this post, we’ll share some example outbound emails to target passive candidates a little lower down.

How Many People Are Passively Looking For a New Job?

About 83% of the workforce is passively looking for new opportunities, so these potential candidates are there for the taking. With the proper strategies, you can attract them to interview you and make it much more likely that you will fill your position with a qualified and long-term match.

Unlike active job seekers, passive candidates are not constantly checking job postings or applying for positions. This means you must move beyond job boards and career sites and look for candidates in other places by engaging in non-traditional sourcing methods.

When Should I Go After Passive Candidates?

There are a few types of roles where it’s a good idea to invest time and effort into recruiting passive candidates. 

Highly skilled positions 

When you need someone to come in and hit the ground running with a very specific skill set, it makes sense to recruit a professional who already has experience using that skill set in a similar role. This is especially useful when you don’t have much time to train someone or when there is no one to do the training because your company lacks expertise in a certain area. 

Business critical positions

For roles that are crucial to your company’s survival, you need someone with proven expertise. Recruiting a passive candidate who’s already doing the job well elsewhere can ensure positive results and eliminate the possibility of a hiring mistake. 

Leadership roles

Passive candidates are popular targets for executive roles. Their proven track record and vast experience make them ideal to step in to fill a vacant position at the top of the org chart. 

How Do You Attract Passive Candidates?

So now you may be wondering how to engage passive candidates. Or, you could be wondering where you even found them! You see the value in recruiting them but don’t know where to start. Don’t worry! We’ll walk you through how to engage passive candidates in our complete guide.

Where to Find These Candidates

If you’re wondering where to find potential passive candidates so that you can begin networking and building those connections, it can be hard to know where to start. However, in-person events and social media platforms are great tools for recruiting passive candidates.  Here are our top picks to get you started!

1. Look for networking events in your community

If you are not already acquainted with local networking events, you can search for some that are relevant to your industry on websites such as Eventbrite or Meetup. There is nothing like meeting people in person to really make a long-term connection. You can use these meet-ups to scout potential candidates, but just as importantly,  they can be used to pitch your company. Use these events as an opportunity to showcase anything that would attract potential candidates to come and work for you. Talk about the benefits you offer or your company culture. You can talk about the way you support career growth. Any positive impression you can make now will mean that follow-ups are more likely to lead to hiring results. 

2. Use LinkedIn to connect with candidates in your industry

LinkedIn is a great place for recruiting passive candidates. You can search for candidates by job descriptions, qualifications, industry, and more. You can contact these candidates directly and implement general networking strategies with people in your field. That way, when a position opens up in your company, you will already have made connections with potential candidates, and you won’t have to cold email. This form of passive recruiting can pay off in the long term. 

You can build relations on LinkedIn by participating in groups relevant to your industry. Make sure to share insights and relevant news about your industry on your LinkedIn page. This is another type of passive recruiting that you can implement for a long game. 

Related: How to Use LinkedIn to Source Top Candidates

3. Share your job opening on Facebook

There are many ways you can use Facebook to recruit passive candidates. You can start by creating an engaging post about the job opening and sharing it with your followers. Or, you can use Facebook’s advertising tools to boost your post and get it in front of the right audience so that your reach extends past just your followers. You can narrow your potential audience in a way that gets your ad in front of the right eyes. You can also use Facebook to perform a creative search to look directly for candidates. Lastly, you can post jobs to a local community or industry group.

Related: How Facebook Can Enhance Your Recruitment Strategy

4. Use Twitter to promote your company and any open position 

One of the most useful tools on Twitter for reaching more people is the retweet feature. Writing engaging and compelling tweets regularly about your company is a great way to create general interest in your company and get retweets. When there is an open position in your company, tweet about it fun or interestingly, making it more likely to get retweeted. Make sure to shoot out more than just one tweet about the position to increase the likelihood that Twitter users will see it. You can also search for candidates on Twitter by searching keywords or hashtags. 

Sourcing Techniques

Now that you know some of the best places you should be using to look for passive candidates, let’s talk about some other passive candidate sourcing techniques. 

1. Write engaging and catchy job descriptions 

Sometimes going back to basics can greatly increase your chances of landing that perfect candidate. Review your existing job postings and make sure that you are attracting the right kind of candidate. A well-written, clear, and catchy description will increase the number of people who want to apply. Write the qualifications clearly and straightforwardly to attract the right candidates and dissuade nonqualified job seekers from applying. 

Related: How to Write a Job Description to Attract Top Candidates

2. Establish an online presence

Having a strong online presence will help you have better name recognition and visibility among potential passive candidates. Make sure your website is up to date. Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to increase traffic to your page. Share interesting and fun things about your company on your website. 

We discussed using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to post job openings. In order for that strategy to be effective in recruiting passive candidates, you need to have an already established social media presence on these platforms. Share interesting industry news, tidbits about your employees, and showcase your company’s culture. The more recognition your company has, the more likely a passive candidate will be to show interest when approached with an opportunity. 

3. Establish a pro-employee reputation

Have you ever heard someone say, “That company is a fantastic place to work,” or, “I hear they really put their employees first?” A great reputation among your employees is one of the best passive candidate sourcing techniques you can use.  You can discuss your pro-employee culture on your website, social platforms, and job listings. 

4. Leverage employee referrals 

Your existing employees are among your best resources for recruiting passive candidates. Creating an appealing work environment will make it easy to encourage your employees to use their own connections. Some companies find it beneficial to have a referral program through which they pay their employees to bring in candidates that result in a hire. 

Related: How to Make Your Employee Referral Program a Powerful Recruitment Tool

5. Tailor the application process to passive candidates

A long and arduous application process may turn off a passive candidate. Make your application easy to access and complete. If a passive candidate makes it to the interview process, consider what kinds of questions would be conducive and which ones would be cumbersome to ask. For example, you may not ask a candidate you sought out, “What attracted you to this company,” or other questions that don’t make sense in this situation. 

Recruiting passive candidates is an ongoing process that demands constant engagement and care. It means investing in passive candidate sourcing techniques regularly, not just when you have an active job opening. Building relationships in person and online will take time. Curating your online presence will take some hard work and dedication, and paying for ads can also help. When the time comes to hire someone new, this will all be worth it.

How to Recruit and Retain Passive Candidates

Earlier, we mentioned using outbound recruiting strategies like cold emails to target passive job seekers. While this strategy requires an investment of time and labor, it can also be highly effective in building trust and ultimately getting passive candidates to apply. 

We’re saying ‘email’ here, but this strategy can also be used when messaging candidates on LinkedIn. In fact, LinkedIn can be even more effective since most candidates won’t feel comfortable being approached on their company email account, and tracking down personal email addresses is tricky.

Email example #1

Subject line: [Position title] at [Company name]

[Candidate name],

My name is [Recruiter name] and I’m a recruiter for [Company]. I came across your profile and was impressed by your background in [background details]. We’re looking to hire a [position title], and your experience makes you seem like a strong fit. 

Are you open to hearing more about the opportunity? If so, I’d love to tell you more about it (with no pressure) and learn more about you, as well. Let me know what day and time would work well and we can set up a call.

Have a great day. 

[Recruiter name]

Email example #2

Subject line: More info on [position title]

[Candidate name],

Hi again. I know you’re busy and might not have time for a call right now, so I thought I’d share a bit more information about us to help you decide if it makes sense to connect. 

We’re a company that [insert background on company, mission, values, etc.]. The [position title] works on things like [job duties], and has some exciting projects in the works like [upcoming projects].

All employees are entitled to benefits like [insert benefits like health insurance, 401(k) matching, etc.]. You can watch a short video spotlighting some of our employees here [link to video or other asset]. 

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we’re all about. If you have questions or want to talk further, my inbox is open!

[Recruiter name]

Recruiting passive candidates is an ongoing process that demands constant engagement and care. It means investing in passive candidate sourcing techniques on a regular basis and not just when you have an active job opening. Building relationships in person and online will take time. Curating your online presence will take some hard work and dedication, and paying for ads can also help. When the time comes to hire someone new, this will all be worth it.

Engage With Staffing Experts Today

Our expert recruiters and headhunters have built an extensive talent pipeline of both active and passive candidates. These candidates are categorized under industry and skillsets. So, we are prepared to find you the best-fit candidate, regardless of your unique hiring needs.

We have built our reputation by providing a personal, flexible, and consultative approach to our clients and candidates. We focus on quickly providing you with a culture fit and qualified candidate. 

To learn more about our staffing solutions, schedule your free consultation today.

Crystal Lang's Headshot

About Crystal Lang

Crystal Lang is a Senior Client Manager for 4 Corner Resources, the highest rated recruitment firm in Central Florida. She has eight years of experience working in the staffing and recruiting industry. She is a results focused professional, recognized for building and growing enriched relationships with a myriad of clients. Her experience encompasses supporting SMB’s to enterprise-level clients. In her free time, Crystal enjoys traveling the globe!