20 Top Tips to Recruit Passive Candidates

Sometimes the best hires aren’t the ones actively looking for a job. Better known as “passive” candidates, these gainfully employed professionals are reasonably happy, but might be willing to consider a more attractive offer.

“Passive candidates are not really as passive as they say they are,” said Steve Guine (@IIT_Inc), National Director of Staffing at IIT. “Like active candidates, they are more than willing to listen. The big difference being, they are more selective.”

Recognize and appreciate great work! @angiehaugenFinding these potential hires requires recruiters to be more active in their pursuit, but it’s definitely worth the effort – passive candidates comprise 84% of the potential workforce, according to the Department of Labor.

How do you find these passive candidates, approach them, get your company on their radar, and ultimately recruit them? We asked experts in the field who have successfully recruited passive candidates for their advice.

Tip 1: Mine your applicant tracking system (ATS)

You already have a great database of passive candidates, said Matt Charney (@mattcharney), Senior Manager, Online and Social Media Brand for Cornerstone OnDemand. Just go back a couple of years in your ATS. Do a deep dive and cross reference what those old candidates are doing now via social networks and people search engines like pipl.

Ignoring your own ATS has been quite an epidemic in recruiting. Jennifer Hasche (@JenniferINTUIT), Lead Sourcer at Intuit, noted in a Dice interview last year that Intuit had 230 submissions for one position in their ATS, but no one had looked at them. Chances are good those candidates would have been worth considering – Sixty percent of recruiter-submitted applicants are already in a company’s ATS, said Sarah White (@imsosarah), author of the HRTechBlog.

“These candidates, even if they’re not looking, are almost always open to a conversation if they’ve previously applied,” said Charney. “Many times you’ll see that while they might not have been a right fit a couple years back, they are now as they’ve had the chance to gain the necessary skills and experience.”

Similarly, Dice has a Passive Candidates tab built into our TalentMatch search tool. When you search for tech candidates by tech skill, geographical area or any other criteria, you can isolate those coveted passives who have had their resume in the Dice database for 365+ days.

Tip 2: Start blogging

Help people with relevant information in a clear, concise and humorous way. Do that and they will stay and tell their friends.  @JimStroudWe’re not the first to advise “start a blog,” but there’s a reason you hear this repeatedly. People engage around content, and producing relevant content via a blog presents you as an authority in your field for others to follow.

“Don’t write about your company,” said Becky Carroll (@bcarroll7), Principal of the Petra Consulting Group. “Write about topics that people in your industry should be considering, even if they aren’t looking for a job right now.”

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@blogging4jobs) started Blogging4Jobs in 2007 solely to reach passive candidates, answer their job search questions, provide value, and build a reputation as someone who cares.

“[A blog] is the best method in which to build a reputation and recruit with the passive candidate in mind,” said Miller-Merrell.

If getting started seems intimidating, read “Blogging Advice for People Who Have ‘No Time to Blog.’”

Tip 3: Flatter passive candidates by simply recruiting them

=“It’s a compliment to be pursued by a recruiter,” said Sam Friedlander (@sfriedla1), Senior Manager Pharmacy Data Warehousing at Kaiser Permanente. “It’s assurance that one is valuable to the marketplace, and it’s a boost to one’s ego. The pursuit could ignite a thought in the passive candidate to consider an opportunity that might be better.”

Recruiters can take advantage of making a great first impression, but remember to be genuine and honest, not spammy.

Tip 4: Be good to your employees and they’ll spread the word

=“Treat employees as if you are recruiting them,” said Justin Sherratt (@justinsherratt), CEO of Sortbox.

If you want employees to speak positively about your company, they need to actually like working there. Although it’s often out of the recruiter’s hands, a good work environment and employee brand are critical to attracting passive candidates.

It’s also important that current employees know when and for what the company is hiring. As Sherratt said, “The company’s network is far greater than the recruiter’s network.”

In addition, a great venue to get your employees engaged with prospective hires is within a talent community.

“Let employees act as brand advocates – touting your company culture, and even referring their social connections into the community for your hiring consideration,” said Lauren Smith (@Laurn_Smth), Marketing Director for Ascendify Social Recruiting.

Tip 5: Inquire about specific talents, not job seekers

After hearing lots of advice on getting referrals from people you know, we realized that successfully connecting with those referrals depends on how you approach the referral request.

“Instead of asking, ‘Who do you know that is looking?’,” said Shana Farnsworth (@ShanaRandstad), Delivery Manager for Randstad Technologies, “Ask, ‘Who do you know with the same skill set or XYZ skill set?’”

20 Top Tips to Recruit Passive Candidates | Dice Resource Center.


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