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6 Ways To Recruit Passive Candidates

If you haven’t considered recruiting passive candidates for your open position(s), now is the time to start.

Who qualifies as a passive candidate?

A passive candidate is anyone who is currently employed but is also open to considering other opportunities should they arise. These candidates are likely not applying to your open positions without significant prompting or recruiting. However, passive candidates make up a majority of the applicant pool as LinkedIn estimates 70% of candidates in the applicant pool are passive.

Why spend time trying to recruit passive candidates?

These highly talented individuals are likely being recruited by other organizations due to their track record of excellence. They have been sought out before. They are the change agents who will leave a positive impact on your organization, and they are a tough sell. They are not going to upend their job on a moment’s notice to join your team. They know the importance of not burning bridges and consider what options they have when making career decisions.

How do you recruit someone who is currently employed?

Here are a few tactics to consider:

  • Deploying social media marketing to create visibility around opportunities at your company. Connecting with passive candidates will need to go beyond traditional strategies of posting opportunities on job boards. Remember, these candidates aren’t actively seeking out a position; however, when presented with an opportunity perhaps via an ad or short video clip, they might be drawn in to start researching your company. Allowing your employees to share information regarding their work experience (of course, following your organization’s policy around social media management) can create a peer marketing strategy that might intrigue a candidate to inquire more about your company.

  • Write more exciting job descriptions. While this is a low-cost, low-risk strategy, not many companies are thinking creatively about how their job descriptions can be used as a recruiting strategy. How can you think outside the box when writing historically mundane job descriptions? What is your organizations differential advantage, from an employee perspective? How can you describe the culture of the organization within the job posting? In one great example I’ve seen, Ro Health listed “bonus requirements” of “You laugh at dad jokes” and “You know a cool handshake that you can teach the team” directly within their pharmacist job description. Who wouldn’t enjoy a bit of fun at work? Also, what great initial conversation to break the ice when the candidate reaches out to inquire about this position? Brilliant.

  • Discuss opportunities for career growth. Passive candidates are highly talented and are seeking a culture that will help them grow on their career path. How can you showcase your mentoring and professional development opportunities even before bringing your candidate on site? Would it be worth recording a short video to interview a few employees about their experiences?

  • Be flexible in the interview process. Passive candidates may not have as much time to attend a full-day in person interview. Remember, they are not the candidates that are even perusing job boards. Could you offer a virtual interview? What about a few phone conversations or meetings for coffee to get to know the candidate in a more informal setting first? Keep email communications concise, to-the-point, and actionable.

  • Foster a relationship with passive candidates. As mentioned, passive candidates are not going to jump ship from their current job overnight. Connecting with these individuals via several conversations/meetings will help them (and you) learn if this is the right fit. What motivates this person? What are they seeking more (or less) of in their career, and how can your organization offer that?

  • Ask your current employees for referrals for open positions. According to LinkedIn, The #1 way individuals find out about a new opportunity is through a referral. Who do they know that would be a good fit for this position? Your employees should be able to point out the qualities that would help someone be successful in the open position. Also, this strategy can have the side effect of increasing employee engagement by involving them in the recruiting and hiring process.

6 Ways To Recruit Passive Candidates
Jackie Boyle

Jackie is a full-time pharmacist and career coach at TheHappyPharmD, where she helps pharmacists live life by design. She loves her family, changing the world and the profession of pharmacy.