Browse our shortlist of recommendations for Top Recruitment Tools that help HR professionals and recruiters manage relationships with passive candidates.
Or, check out our video overview on passive candidates and recruiting below.
In this article...
Passive vs. active candidates
A passive job candidate is someone who:
- Has in-demand skills.
- Is currently employed and not actively looking for a job.
- Is open to new opportunities.
Recruiters have to initiate contact with passive candidates and persuade them to switch jobs, whether now or in the future. Active candidates, by contrast, are individuals who are actively seeking and applying for jobs. Because passive candidates require extra effort to source and engage, recruiters typically only seek them out for executive positions, specialized roles, and other jobs that have smaller applicant pools.
How to source passive candidates through passive recruiting
Passive recruiting is a strategic practice in which recruiters proactively connect with highly qualified passive candidates in the greater talent pool, hoping to pique their interest in open roles. The goal is not necessarily to find an active job seeker but rather to build a relationship and organically persuade this person to consider a career with your organization.
Passive sourcing relies on a combination of several tools to source and engage qualified passive candidates:
Bear in mind: While these are some of the most effective passive sourcing strategies, they rarely offer enough one-on-one relationship building to engage a passive candidate.
6 tips for recruiting passive candidates
If you want to strengthen your recruitment strategy with passive candidates, consider the following tips:
- Personalize your communications.
- Deliver value with each interaction.
- Keep messages focused and brief.
- Reach out through different channels.
- Respect communication boundaries.
- Tailor your messaging over time.
1. Personalize your communications
A simple, yet thoughtful gesture to build and maintain a relationship with a passive job seeker or potential candidate is to send occasional personalized messages. For example, a LinkedIn message congratulating them on a work anniversary shows goodwill toward the passive candidate and keeps your company on their radar as a place they might like to work in the future.
A more persuasive approach involves sending automated yet personalized messages to qualified candidates about the company, its benefits, and any potential openings.
2. Deliver value with each interaction
When communicating with a passive candidate, make sure your messages offer valuable information that is tailored to that person. Start by explaining why you’re interested in recruiting them and give concrete examples of how they could benefit from working at your company; provide quantitative data about other recent hires in that department to support your claim, if possible.
Additionally, consider sharing resources from your company with them, including white papers, research guides, and any other products your company develops that may be helpful to them in their current job. They’ll appreciate the thoughtful gesture and simultaneously be reminded of what your company is doing and why they might want to eventually work there.
3. Keep messages focused and brief
Outreach messages don’t need to be lengthy essays. To communicate your point quickly and effectively, state the most important information first, incorporate videos and/or helpful infographics, and use bullet points and lists to keep things short. You’ll get more engagement out of content that gets straight to the point.
4. Reach out through different channels
Some candidates live out of their email inboxes, whereas others may prefer LinkedIn messaging or even SMS. When you contact a passive candidate for the first time, make it a priority to establish their communication preferences.
This will prevent you from accidentally spamming them — and wasting your own time — through communication channels they rarely use.
5. Respect communication boundaries.
Sometimes passive candidates won’t engage with your messages at all. If they’re uninterested in your opportunities, it’s usually easier to hit “delete” and hope you’ll take a hint than it is to unsubscribe or type out a response. For your sanity and theirs, monitor the response you get from candidates, and remove them from your outreach list if they don’t interact with any of your messages after a set length of time.
6. Tailor your messaging over time
Personalized messages are the most effective way to reach the passive candidate talent pool. As you interact with more passive candidates on a regular basis, you can and should tailor your messages based on your findings. This is made easier with email drip campaigns, which allow you to automate the messaging a candidate receives based on activities like opens and clicks.
Benefits of recruiting passive candidates
Although it’s difficult to recruit passive candidates, the possible outcome of just one high-quality new hire is often worth the trouble of reaching out to dozens of others. These are some of the specific benefits of recruiting passive candidates:
Challenges of recruiting passive candidates
Many organizations face these challenges when trying to recruit passive candidates:
Why recruit passive candidates?
If you ignore passive recruiting, you might miss out on a highly qualified candidate who could’ve been convinced to apply if a recruiter had reached out with the right message and job opening.
Here are just a handful of reasons why your organization should consider recruiting passive candidates:
Passive recruiting FAQs
Create best-in-class candidate experiences and efficient recruiting processes for hiring success. ClearCompany helps your company find and hire more top talent with modern text, video, and interview scheduling tools. ClearCompany incorporates your job-specific requirements to optimize requisitions, elevate interview conversations, evaluate candidates fairly, and hire top talent aligned with your company's culture and mission.
Find the best candidates with Workable's applicant tracking software. Workable helps you source, track, and hire candidates, all in less time. Whether you’re hiring Employee #2 or 200 new employees, Workable’s scalable tools, know-how, and support comes wrapped in enterprise-grade tech that’s as easy to use as your favorite app.