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5 Tips on Recruiting Passive Candidates

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With the U.S. unemployment rate averaging under 4.5 percent in 2017, employers across many industries continue to experience difficulty in filling open positions. Because of this, many recruiters are increasing their efforts to identify and engage passive candidates in addition to active job seekers. According to a 2017 ADP Research Institute survey, 42 percent of currently employed workers who said they were not actively looking for a new job were nonetheless “open to the idea.” Their receptiveness to relevant openings creates a vast opportunity for companies seeking top talent.

However, recruiting passive candidates for a job requires a more strategic approach, notes Alyssa Kaczor, senior professional recruiter lead for Aerotek. Beyond traditional job boards and other active talent strategies, employers need to look toward proactive candidate sourcing instead.

Strategies for recruiting passive candidates

Get out there: “Most passive candidates are relatively content in their current positions,” says Kaczor, “so you have to focus on proactive ways to engage them.” Unlike active job seekers who purposefully look for open positions, in order to reach passive candidates, companies need to consider how to get their attention in their everyday activities. Consider where they network, what they read and whom they trust.


Use employee referrals: Your current employees can be your best source of word-of-mouth referrals. Especially if any employees were recruited from a large company, or a declining industry, there could be many more qualified workers receptive to hearing about greener grass elsewhere — “particularly when they hear it first-hand from a former colleague who has had a stellar experience,” Kaczor says. Make sure current employees know when and what positions you’re recruiting for to keep it top of mind.

Make your pitch outstanding: One of the most important steps in attracting top talent is having a clear pitch, or employee value proposition (EVP), explaining the benefits of your position to passive candidates. Unlike active job seekers who are innately motivated to see your job in the best possible light, employed workers will compare it to their current situation, and you need to make sure your opportunity comes out on top. Consider how you would describe your company culture, what matters to your employees, why would someone want to work for your company, how do you differ from your competition, as well as what opportunities and benefits does your company offer.

Promote your EVP: Recruiting passive candidates means that you need to create the environment where they’ll be more receptive to hearing about an open position or having a conversation with you. “Ask open-ended questions about what a candidate would look for in a new job — it’s rare that even the happiest employees can’t name one or two things that could be improved,” recommends Kaczor. And because you never know where, or from whom, passive candidates will encounter your company, make sure to share your EVP in your job postings, on your website, on your social channels, in your outreach messages and with your current employees — your most important brand ambassadors.

Be efficient: Avoid lengthy or repetitive steps in your recruitment process to ensure that the process isn’t discouraging to potential candidates. Consider how you can streamline the application and interview process. For example, try to consolidate multiple interviews if possible, and be flexible with the time of day.

Today’s talent-driven job market means that passive candidates are more valuable than ever. Make sure you’re spending time to develop a specific sourcing strategy that takes into account the different motivations of this key population and tailors the marketing and messaging to accommodate.

Want to learn more about attracting passive candidates? Contact Aerotek now.