Here’s a harsh reality some of us don’t often consider: many of your most-qualified applicants to a given job opening will already have a job. How does that shift the picture of hiring them?
Issue No. 1: The respect of time
If the candidate has a job, well, they need to be performing in that job. You might have their talents soon, but for now someone else is compensating them. That means you need to be respectful of their time, and interview schedules may need to adjust — either earlier in the morning (7:30/8am) or after work (6/6:30pm), or a hard one-hour around lunchtime (when they’d potentially be leaving their office anyway). Also, it’s helpful to acknowledge the inherent awkwardness of their position — we’ve all worked with people who were clearly actively interviewing on their lunch break, and everyone seems to kinda sorta know the deal when it’s happening. Thank them for taking the time to get to know you and your company better.
Issue No. 2: Make sure the interview is highly-structured
Because you have time windows to operate within with a currently-employed candidate, make sure your interview questions/process are focused and not generic. You don’t have the luxury of opening small talk as much as you would with a student or currently-unemployed hire, because the demands on this candidate’s time are heavier. Think about what exactly you need from the role and the questions that would map to that, including specifics around what they’ve done, what roles they’ve held on teams, relevant work samples, projects, and more.
Issue No. 3: How does this all tie to candidate experience?
Candidate experience is definitely a hot topic these days, and with the rise of sites like Glassdoor (recently acquired to boot!), it’s an even bigger deal. The candidate experience for a currently-employed candidate vs. other types of candidates is obviously going to be a bit different, largely around time windows and how you show them respect. But open communication is crucial in any candidate experience context. Tell them you value them, you understand their talents, you really want them as part of the team, and you know they’re making sacrifices to even go through your process. Be completely open and upfront with them. It matters. (That should matter to candidate experience overall, but sadly it often does not.)
Issue No. 4: What if the candidate is initially passive?
The real talk would be this: very few companies have a passive candidates strategy, and here’s why. It’s more important for people in HR to tell everyone how busy they are than actually do anything. (This applies to most departments, actually.) If you’re drowning with current applicants as is, who has time to worry about passive candidates? There are seats to fill!
The reality is this: if companies got smart and automated top-of-funnel hiring (AI, chatbots, etc.), the recruiters would have more time for relationship development and working on what to do about passive candidates.
Here’s how to approach passive and currently-employed candidates better:
- When they sign up for emails, actually send them emails (most companies sadly miss this step).
- Send your recruiters out to different types of networking events to build relationships.
- Use LinkedIn wisely, as opposed to spammy InMail BS.
- Have a one-sheet ready about the benefits of considering your company, even if you’re super happy elsewhere.
- Don’t let your ATS be a candidate black hole; actually communicate with candidates so they’ll care about you later.
- Care about them.
- Realize they often are better than active candidates (60-70% of applications for an open job don’t meet qualifications).
What other challenges have you seen around currently-employed candidates, and how have you approached them?