Five Effective Ways to Stand Out to Passive Candidates


They say that it’s easier to find a job when you have one. But how do you distinguish candidates that are passively job searching versus those who are truly happy with their current job? The fact is, everyone should be open to new opportunities.

It’s safe to assume the majority of the working world are passive candidates just waiting for someone, or something, to convince them that a shiny new job is something better than what they have. And, as humans, we always want what we don’t have.

Passive candidates can be hard to find, and even harder to reach. So we’ve put together a list of five of the most important recruiting tactics that must be applied when searching for someone who isn’t looking for you.

Write better job descriptions.

In this candidate-driven market, your job descriptions should be more than a standard list of tasks and qualifications. This goes double for reaching passive candidates; the job description must be unique and straightforward. Clearly state who you are looking for. Don’t waste time listing all the required skills—if you are seeking them out, you already know they have the qualifications you’re looking for.

Simplify your application process.

Passive candidates are fully employed, and you expect them to waste up to an hour of their time filling out your application? Not going to happen. Since they are being sought after by you, you can bet you’re not the only one. Why would they spend an hour on yours when another takes 15 minutes and offers the same benefits?

The application process for active and passive candidates should be different. As a passive candidate, they have already passed your screening, so don’t ask all the questions that will be asked again in an interview. Don’t make them enter the same information that can be found in their resume. Be respectful of their time and they will be more willing to move forward in your hiring process.

Add a personal touch.

Passive candidates might not know they could be in a better position and are definitely not openly searching for a new job. So don’t use generic form emails when initiating contact with them. They will be more willing to talk to an actual employee of the company, rather than a recruiter. Same can be said for emails, anything from a recruiter will likely get deleted immediately.

Make it personal. Find their pain point or the reason they might want to consider other jobs and companies. Find what will motivate them to being open to hearing more from you and about the position. Write a catchy headline focusing on that motivator, think about what will make them curious, or question it. Keep it short and sweet, give them the information they need to make an informed decision. And lastly, don’t apologize. You're not sorry you want them on your team.

Don’t be aggressive.

The follow-up for a passive candidate should be simple and courteous, they shouldn’t feel like you’re stalking them. Be respectful of their time, remember they’re still employed full-time. Wanting a highly skilled candidate is going to take time, and some convincing. Flattery can go a long way. Make sure they know you appreciate their time, skills, and dedication. This will instantly take the pressure off them on making a decision on the spot. The more time they take to make the decision will be a good indicator that they are open to (and considering) what you’re offering.

Money is great, but sell them on the possibilities.

A bump in salary is expected when recruiting passive candidates, and it’s your job to sell them on the “more.” The current workforce largely focuses on professional growth within a company and the recognition that comes with it. The personal reward and satisfaction that come from doing their job well is more than a good enough reason to stick around with a company, or change companies. Temptation makes even the most satisfied employee curious. Give them the tools to research your company, be transparent, and sell them on the possibility of what could be.

Passive candidates might be the hardest to connect with, to convince and hire, but is finding the perfect candidate ever easy? Before you set out on an impossible journey, be sure to define your purple squirrel and identify the talent pool in which you want to search.

The bottom line is that you need to understand the reasoning behind a passive candidate before you will be able to recruit them.

Topics: Talent Acquisition

Updated December 21, 2018