Employee Engagement

How to Attract Passive Candidates

It can be difficult to attract passive candidates. They won't initiate contact so you must take action to build and nurture relationships with them.

The other day my daughter was watching one of her cartoons on TV when I needed to get her attention. You parents out there can probably picture this scene. It took me three attempts just to get her to look up and acknowledge I was there, let alone actually pay attention. And why should she? She was busy and I was a distraction, not relevant at the moment.

That’s kind of the way it goes with recruiting, too.

Only 21 percent of candidates are actually actively looking for work. The other 79 percent (closer to 95 percent in specialized fields) are like my daughter: otherwise engaged.

So, how do you go about getting their attention and attracting those passive candidates? You can’t step in front of them and turn off the TV, but there are things you can do and I’m going to share with you some ideas to make contact and nurture those relationships.

Making Contact

If these candidates aren’t quite running to your job board, how do you find them? Our customers use a few different outlets to source their passive talent.

Google/LinkedIn: Researching online can help you understand the best places to find the passive talent pertaining to your industry or sector. You can learn a lot about passive talent by looking online at their LinkedIn, personal websites and social media profiles. This could be a good starting point for a LinkedIn message or email outreach.

Social Media:  In our recent Global Talent Recruitment Survey, we discovered that successful companies are twice as likely to be getting quality candidates through social media as their counterparts. Try activating your employees and tap into their online networks by providing content for them to share. Get involved in online communities and forums catering to your candidates. Participating builds your credibility and creates awareness of your employer brand.

Networking Events: Despite the proliferation of social media, people still do go to old fashioned live events. Are you recruiting a marketing role? Why not head to a local marketing conference or association meeting. Because you’re there for a common purpose you’ll have something to talk about and won’t come off as aggressive when asking about their work. Request a LinkedIn connection and keep in touch for when an opportunity arises.

Referrals: We all know this is where the best candidates come from, and they have the highest retention rates. Our survey confirmed it. Find ways to activate this channel. Don’t just wait for employees to think of it.  Consider using incentives to motivate your employees to refer qualified friends.

Nurturing the Relationship

You’ve made contact and started that new relationship. What next?  Now it’s time to nurture that relationship.

Take your time: Your best pitch will fall on deaf ears if your audience isn’t ready to hear it. When trying to attract your passive talent remember to take your time and build the relationship. Share useful information that’s relevant to their field. Look for opportunities to connect with them online and at events to build a deeper relationship. This won’t help you fill an immediate opening, but it builds bridges to the right candidates for the future.

Be persistent: Statistics show that, in sales, 80 percent of sales are made between the 5th and 12th follow up call. Just as it’s important not to push too hard at the beginning, it’s equally important not to give up to early.

Listen: What’s keeping them from making the move from their current place of employment to your position? What do they value? What drives them to work hard every day? Learn these things and show them how your company and role aligns with what’s important to them.

What about you? What strategies do you have for attracting passive candidates? 



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