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How to find and engage passive candidates

Karen Henke
Head of Growth Marketing
October 12, 2021

The average recruiter has 30 to 40 open requisitions at any one time with a median of 15 to 20, according to SHRM. That pressure on recruiters could be due to a highly competitive talent market and a lack of qualified candidates, or a cut in recruiting headcount and everyone has more to do. Either way recruiters are feeling the pressure to find qualified candidates who will add real value to their organizations as efficiently as possible. Increasingly, that means recruiters and hiring managers are looking to find and engage passive candidates.

What is a passive candidate?

Unlike active candidates, passive candidates aren’t browsing job boards or applying for positions at different companies. They don’t know that their skills and attributes might serve them better in a different position. That’s where a recruiter can jump start a career path with a more proactive recruiting approach and a strong sourced candidate pipeline.

Sourcing has become the most reliable way to find qualified talent, ahead of referrals and inbound applications, according to our survey. Most recruiters now spend at least 1 day a week sourcing for open roles. Sourcing passive candidates requires a different approach, so building an effective recruiting plan for passive candidates is essential to success.

Check out these tips for finding and engaging passive candidates to get started.

Attract candidates with your employer brand

A differentiated employer brand helps you attract people who will be most successful at your company. When you reach out to passive candidates with an opportunity, you need to give them a reason to make a change. The better they understand your values, culture, and people, the more likely they will be to consider applying. We’ve written a whole post on developing your employer brand and the 10 best careers pages.

In a nutshell, here’s what you should pay attention to and who you should work with at your company:

PR and communications

Work with your comms team to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward and applying for awards like “best workplaces”. Make sure they’re thinking about your brand as an employer as well as a company.

Demand gen and field marketing

These marketing teams are responsible for events, webinars and newsletters. Make sure that they are promoting your employer brand at industry events and positioning your company as a great place to work in all communications.

Digital marketing

These team members are responsible for how your company shows up on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, etc. Are they celebrating success? Highlighting new hires and open positions? You can be a great source of meaningful content to build your brand. They can also help you respond to any negative sentiments in a platform-appropriate way.

Corporate branding

Larger companies have teams dedicated to branding who can help you develop your employer brand messaging with a tone and design that matches your culture and values.

Sourcing passive candidates

Sourcing is the process of finding, engaging, and pre-screening prospective candidates who are not actively looking for a job or have not applied to the job you are seeking to fill. Most talent teams seek to build strong sourcing candidate pipelines. Expert sourcers have developed complex Boolean strings and search techniques to dive deep into LinkedIn, Indeed, Github and other sites where potential candidates share their profiles. Most talent teams seek to build strong sourcing candidate pipelines.Automated sourcing can enhance and support both expert sourcers and recruiting generalists.  Technology is used to translate job description requirements into search criteria and apply it to any number of data sources. If you are considering an automated sourcing platform, a few things to look for include: data sources analyzed, quality of results, diversity in the talent pool, contact finding tools, integration with your ATS, and outreach automation.

Automating outreach to passive candidates

Once you have a list of candidates, you’ll need to contact them to let them know about the opportunity. Prospecting passive candidates usually means a lot of emails with not a lot of responses (most people who are not looking…are not looking). If you can find those people who want to move, haven’t started applying for jobs, and are a perfect match for your company, you’ve got much less competition.One tactic is to find people who have worked at companies in the same stage where you are now, who have seen a company grow from your stage to the next stage, who have worked in similar domains or who share community interests or activities can all be strong indicators of interest. You can use these “intangible attributes” in your email outreach. For example, you can highlight where the company is and where it’s headed or emphasize community outreach that’s relevant to the candidates’ interests. Here’s how you might hire for innovation and passion, for example.

Ideally, your automated sourcing solution includes outreach to candidates. Automating both processes in a single workflow can save days by avoiding the manual task of reviewing profiles and personalizing emails.

Networking with passive candidates

Most recruiters consider referrals to be a key source of qualified candidates, and build referral programs with bonuses to encourage employees to recruit their friends. This is great, but employees only have so much time to keep up with your open job list and their network’s availability. Plus, the referral network will only be so big.

Instead of a push approach to referrals, you can try a pull. Once you have a list of ideal passive candidates, find employees who are connected with them. Ask your employees to support your communications to them with a referral. Findem maps your candidates networks so you can easily see who is already connected to your employee network and leverage that connection.

The more people you get behind the referral effort, the better the chances of onboarding your next great hire.

Recruiting passive candidates and changing lives

Recruiting passive candidates is no small challenge for talent acquisition teams. Passive candidates aren’t currently on the hunt for a new job, so you’ll need to go above-and-beyond in order to convince them to give your roles an honest look. But imagine how you might change someone’s life when that opportunity message reaches the right person at the right time.

Take the time to build passive candidate sourcing and engagement in your recruiting plan and you’ll be well on your way to hiring top-tier candidates to fill your open roles. Looking for the fastest way to build continuous talent pipelines of passive candidates? Check out Findem Sourcing Accelerator, our sourcing experts powered by the Findem platform match your wish list to real people.

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