How Companies Can Connect with “Passive” Job Candidates

Finding the best fit for a job opening means more than just posting and interviewing. Among the best candidates for companies are passive job candidates, those who are not currently seeking a new job and therefore, not searching your employment opportunity pages or searching job boards regularly. Incorporating passive job candidates into your search broadens your pool by about 73% with only 12% of the workforce actively seeking jobs, when an additional 28% are causally seeking and 45% would consider a career change if given the right offer.

Passive job candidates are less likely to inflate their qualifications since they are content with their jobs and do not perceive a major loss if they do not impress you. Passive seekers are also likely to be doing well in their jobs and working well on their teams but are simply ready to grow if the situation comes up.

How can companies connect with passive candidates?

  • Establish an employee brand: A company that becomes known as a good place to work will more likely pique the interests of a passive job seeker; even if a potential candidate likes his or her current position, a different work environment could be what tips the scale. Involving the company in the community through fundraisers, events, and volunteering builds its notoriety and positive reputation amongst the local pool of passive seekers. Managers and employees can contribute to blogs and social media that reflect spirit of the company and can even be targeted to amplify the good things about working for a company.
  • Keep in mind current and projected staffing needs: Before investing too much in recruitment activities for passive candidates, determine what skills and outcomes are needed or currently lacking that would further the company mission. Passive candidates require specific targeting to get their attention since they are not searching. Make sure time and resources go into targeting the candidates that will fit a need or help the company grow. Start by envisioning the company as a blank slate and then think about the end goal. What skills and positions are needed to meet the mission? Engage in this thought process further by writing job descriptions. Then compare these lists with an assessment of the current staffing breakdown—include factors like experience, training, skills, and outputs. Identify the gaps to determine what to look for and target in a candidate.
  • Leverage employee referrals: An employee referral program can help managers connect with candidates otherwise missed who may be more likely to have the skills and personal traits desired. Job candidates are (or should be) seeking to know more about a position and company culture and deciding whether it is a good fit just as much as the hiring manager is trying to determine the same about the individual. These candidates have an inside source, the referring employee, so help them figure out if it’s a match and give them honest insights. In some cases this type of pre-matching can save both the candidate and the manager a lot of time, resources, and aggravation as the traditional process leaves some of these important aspects of employee-company culture matching up to luck and can lead to many hires that don’t work out in the long run. Managers should encourage employees to forward new listed positions and make listings available on social media for easier sharing with employee networks. Keep a database of referrals and continue to collect even when there are no positions currently available.
  • Show long-term growth potential: If a passive candidate is satisfied with their current job, there has to be an obvious benefit to taking the leap and taking a new position. First, a passive job seeker is unlikely to give up something stable without the explicit guarantee that the new job offer is long-term. Passive candidates are also attracted to opportunities that offer growth and development and chances to do nuanced work. Managers should ensure that employee growth is part of the employee brand and that these opportunities are mentioned in job descriptions. In pursuit of a particular candidate, managers may want to highlight the specific advances that the individual will have in the new position by comparing it with their current job and company.

Profiling and speaking to more candidates, increases the odds of finding the right combination of skills, experience, conduct, and personal goals. In a competitive job market, employers miss out by waiting for luck to kick in and send the perfect fit to their door. The effort of the front end to connect with passive candidates can save resources and time on the other end and benefit the company overall.