What are passive candidates and how to reach them

ALEX LAMONT • 10 Jun 2024

What are passive candidates?

They're individuals who are not actively seeking new job opportunities. They are typically employed and may be satisfied with their current positions. Unlike active job seekers, passive candidates are not scouring job boards or submitting applications. However, this does not mean they are uninterested in new opportunities; they might be open to the right offer if it aligns with their career goals and personal aspirations.

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Why target passive candidates?

The allure of passive candidates lies in their potential. These individuals are often top performers in their fields, with a proven track record of success. Because they are not actively job hunting, they are less likely to have been approached by competitors, making them a relatively untapped resource. Moreover, their current employment status suggests they possess desirable skills and qualities that employers seek.

According to LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce is composed of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching, while the remaining 30% are active jobseekers. Engaging passive candidates can enhance the talent pool, bringing in diverse and highly qualified individuals who can contribute significantly to an organisation's success. However, attracting passive candidates requires a different approach compared to traditional recruitment methods.

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Strategies to reach passive candidates

  1. Leverage professional networks and referrals

    One of the most effective ways to reach passive candidates is through professional networks and referrals. Employees within your organisation can be invaluable in identifying potential candidates from their networks. Encourage a culture of referrals by offering incentives and recognising employees who successfully recommend new hires. LinkedIn, industry events, and professional associations are also excellent platforms to connect with passive candidates.

  2. Enhance your employer brand

    Your employer brand plays a crucial role in attracting passive candidates. A strong, positive employer brand can pique the interest of individuals who are not actively looking for a job. Showcase your company culture, values, and achievements through social media, company websites, and employee testimonials. Highlight what makes your organisation a great place to work, including career development opportunities, work-life balance, and a supportive work environment.

  3. Utilise social media

    Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are powerful tools for reaching passive candidates. Share engaging content that reflects your company's culture and values. Post about company achievements, industry news, and employee stories. By maintaining an active and appealing social media presence, you can attract the attention of passive candidates who might be scrolling through their feeds.

  4. Content marketing

    Content marketing is another effective strategy to reach passive candidates. By producing valuable and relevant content, you can position your company as a thought leader in your industry. Blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, and videos can showcase your expertise and create interest in your organisation. Make sure your content is shareable, encouraging your network to spread the word and reach potential candidates.

  5. Personalised outreach

    When approaching passive candidates, personalisation is key. Generic messages are unlikely to capture their interest. Take the time to research each candidate and tailor your communication to highlight how the opportunity aligns with their career goals. Mention specific aspects of their experience that impressed you and explain why you believe they would be a great fit for your organisation. A personalised approach demonstrates that you value their unique skills and experience.

  6. Engage through talent communities

    Building and nurturing talent communities can be an effective way to engage passive candidates over time. These communities consist of individuals who have shown interest in your company but may not be ready to apply for a job immediately. By providing regular updates, engaging content, and exclusive insights, you can keep these potential candidates connected and interested in your organisation. When the right opportunity arises, they will be more inclined to consider it.

  7. Attend industry events and conferences

    Industry events and conferences are excellent venues for networking with passive candidates. Attend these events to connect with professionals in your field, share your company's vision, and discuss potential opportunities. Sponsoring or speaking at events can also boost your company's visibility and credibility, making it more attractive to passive candidates.

  8. Offer competitive benefits and opportunities for growth

    Passive candidates are often looking for more than just a salary increase. They seek roles that offer growth opportunities, interesting challenges, and a good work-life balance. Highlight the benefits and opportunities your organisation provides, such as professional development programmes, flexible working arrangements, and a supportive company culture. Demonstrating that your company values and invests in its employees can make it more appealing to passive candidates.

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Overcoming challenges in engaging passive candidates

Engaging passive candidates is not without its challenges. These individuals are typically content in their current roles, making them harder to convince to consider a change. However, by understanding their motivations and addressing their concerns, you can increase your chances of success.

According to a survey by Jobvite, 82% of passive candidates are open to new job opportunities if the right role comes along. This indicates that with the right approach, you can engage and attract these valuable individuals.

  • Understand their motivations: Passive candidates might be motivated by factors such as career growth, work-life balance, company culture, or the opportunity to work on exciting projects. Tailor your approach to address these motivations and show how your organisation can meet their needs.

  • Build trust: Building trust is essential when engaging passive candidates. Be transparent about the role, expectations, and company culture. Providing honest and detailed information can help passive candidates make informed decisions and build confidence in your organisation.

  • Maintain relationships: Even if a passive candidate is not interested in a current opportunity, maintain a positive relationship for future possibilities. Keep them updated on new openings and company news, and continue to engage them through personalised communication and content.

Reaching passive candidates requires a strategic and thoughtful approach. By leveraging professional networks, enhancing your employer brand, utilising social media, and engaging in personalised outreach, you can effectively attract and engage these valuable individuals. Remember to understand their motivations, build trust, and maintain relationships to successfully convert passive candidates into valuable employees. In a competitive job market, targeting passive candidates can give your organisation a significant advantage, bringing in top talent that can drive success and innovation.

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