Passive candidates make up a huge percentage of the overall potential candidate pool. In fact, studies reveal that more than 7 out of every 10 candidates are passive. At a time when both the labor shortage and skills gap are growing, these passive candidates simply can’t be ignored. Otherwise, your company may never be able to acquire the high-quality workers it needs to grow the business.

What exactly is a passive candidate? These are the candidates who are not necessarily looking for new job opportunities and they are not trying to be found, so they may not have a lot of information on social media. However, they aren’t completely against changing roles for the right position. In most cases, passive candidates are already employed and relatively happy in their current job, but with the right guidance, they might be willing to learn more about other job options especially if they result in career advancement.

One of the biggest obstacles employers incur when attempting to source passive candidates is that many standard sourcing strategies prove ineffective. Think about it. Standard talent sourcing practices, such as online job board posting or company career page development, are going to do little to attract candidates that are not actively seeking employment. Therefore, employers need to think outside the box and develop sourcing strategies that are targeted specifically to attract passive candidates.

To help your company build an effective talent acquisition strategy, we have created a list of best practices for sourcing passive candidates.

1. build a continuous pipeline

Since passive candidates aren’t actively seeking new employment opportunities, it’s vital for your company to take the active role. One of the best ways to do this is to develop a strong sourcing process that is designed to build and maintain a continuous talent pipeline that includes both active and passive candidates.

If managed properly, your company can tap into this candidate pipeline to fill even those hard-to-fill positions and improve overall hiring outcomes. There are a few things employers can do to ensure their talent pipeline includes high-quality passive candidates, including:

  • identify current and future hiring needs

Before you can build a successful talent pipeline that can help your company as it moves forward, you must first identify its current and future hiring needs. This requires an in-depth evaluation of company goals and objectives, a complete skills assessment, and a full understanding of industry trends.

You must also distinguish between which of these skills candidates must possess from the start and where the company can invest in training to equip workers with the right skills. Keep in mind that many skills can be learned on the job, but personality traits can’t be taught so easily

Start by holding meetings with supervisors and hiring managers to get a better understanding of the current skill needs of the company. Continue by conducting industry research to better understand emerging trends and technologies to determine what skills may be needed for the future of work within your company.

With this information in hand, you’ll be better equipped to identify the characteristics, skills, and qualifications your company seeks in candidates for both today and the future. This step, in turn, will enable you to build a talent pipeline that drives results.

  • hold on to unsuccessful candidates

Don’t make the mistake of immediately dismissing candidates that weren’t selected, especially those applicants who made it through one or more screening processes. While these candidates may not have been the company’s first pick for that specific job, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be qualified for other positions within the company, or even for future roles that may evolve over time.

Instead of writing these candidates off, they should become a vital component of the company’s talent pipeline. In fact, studies show that candidates who previously applied for a job within a company are four times more likely to respond to additional job opportunities within that same business. Additionally, these candidates are already partially vetted and engaged, which can help to speed up the hiring process.

Download our summary of these must-know strategies for attracting passive candidates so you can use them as a reference at any time.

2. strengthen your employer brand

Maintaining a strong, positive employer brand is a crucial component of building an effective strategy for sourcing passive candidates. In fact, recent studies show that nearly half of the workforce in the UK and the United States revealed that they would not work for an employer with a bad reputation. That’s right, just one bad review that’s not mitigated by your company can cut your potential candidate pool in half.

A positive employer brand is even more important to passive candidates, which is why it’s vital for your company to make developing a strong reputation as an employer a top priority. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • conduct a brand audit

The first step is to assess the current status of your online employer's reputation. Check various online employer review boards to see what your former and current employees have to say about your company. Don’t panic if you see several negative reviews, you can still revamp your current brand image and build a positive online presence.

smiling woman
smiling woman

The trick is to have a solid strategy in place to tackle these negative reviews and to start creating a positive image. If possible, respond to any negative reviews and ask these unsatisfied workers to contact your HR department to discuss the matter. Additionally, you can encourage several current workers to go online and leave honest reviews. These real-life reviews that provide insight into what it’s like to work for your company can be incredibly powerful.

  • develop a unique employer value proposition

The employer value proposition (EVP) is a critical component of building a strong employer brand. Ask yourself what makes your company different, as an employer, from the competition and why someone would want to work for your company. Your EVP should help to differentiate your company from other similar employers.

In order to attract passive candidates, your EVP must go one step further. It must also explain why someone should leave their job to come work for your company.

For example, Merck formulates its employer brand around the idea that “science is clearly at the heart of everything we do, but what really makes us the company we are is the importance we attach to curiosity.” This statement shows that yes, Merck is a company based on science but it’s the value it places on curiosity that sets it apart. This type of statement lets prospective candidates know that Merck is a company that not only embraces new ideas but encourages them, which is an ideology that can be very appealing to candidates who want to know they can make a difference in the workplace.

  • understand the change in worker’s expectations

If it’s been a while since you’ve revamped your employer brand, now is the time. The after-effects of COVID-19 have significantly shifted workers’ expectations, and it’s important that your employer brand shifts to match these changes.

For example, according to our Randstad Employer Brand Research report, 66% of the global workforce ranked having a healthy work-life balance as one of the top motivating factors when looking for a new job. Aligning your employer brand to show that the company cares about its employees’ well-being can go a long way in attracting passive candidates that may feel that their current employer is not doing enough.

For example, Target now provides its employees with a free subscription to Daylight, an app designed to help users effectively deal with stress, and the Wellbeats app, which offers free virtual fitness workshops. Starbucks, on the other hand, started the Starbucks Mental Health Fundamentals initiative to provide training that covers topics, such as effective listening and the importance of self-care.

Additionally, for the first time in history, the global workforce consists of five separate generations. While this can be difficult to manage, it’s important to create an employer brand that resonates with candidates from all generations. Otherwise, you risk alienating candidates from one or more generations, which could significantly hinder your hiring capabilities.

3. enhance candidate engagement

While candidate engagement is always important when sourcing, it’s imperative when trying to grab the attention of passive candidates. Remember that these candidates are not actively looking for new job opportunities, so they’re not likely to be scanning online job boards or searching for employer career pages. In most cases, the only way you will be able to attract these potential candidates is to reach them where they are online and gently guide them towards the application process. Here’s a look at several effective strategies for boosting engagement with passive candidates.

  • leverage social media

Social media is without a doubt one of the most effective ways to reach passive candidates. Facebook alone has nearly 3 billion active users, while more than 5 billion YouTube videos are viewed daily. The good news is that social media can help your company reach a wide range of potential candidates as they browse through their social media accounts.

It’s important to realize the difference between various social media types and how to leverage these platforms to reach your target candidates. For example:

  • Twitter: One of the fastest ways to source potential candidates on Twitter is to use the hashtag and keywords, such as job titles, specific skills, or location, to conduct a quick search. Not everyone on Twitter includes this information, however, so solely relying on this type of search will limit your results. You should also consider tracking those following various professional associations, searching for professional events, and joining relevant Twitter chat events to engage with prospective candidates.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn makes it easy for employers to identify potential candidates using its advanced search filter. With this feature, you can select job titles, skills, and credentials to quickly find qualified candidates. LinkedIn will also provide you with viable recommendations based on your recent searches.
  • Instagram: Much like Twitter, Instagram focuses on hashtags and keywords. Even when using industry-trending hashtags, however, it can be difficult to find the specific talent you want directly through Instagram. The easiest way to source talent on Instagram is to conduct a site search using a Boolean search string, such as “software developer” (dallas). This type of search will reveal all of the software developers on Instagram that live in Dallas.

There is also a big difference in how various generations use social media. While both Facebook and YouTube popularity seems to span generations, new platforms, such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are more popular among the younger generations. It’s important to keep these factors in mind when developing a social media sourcing strategy.

  • simplify the application process

The last thing you want to do is invest time and resources into attracting passive candidates only to lose them due to a lengthy application process. Studies suggest that as many as 60% of job seekers fail to complete the job application process. Since passive candidates are not actively looking for a new job, they may be even less likely to complete a lengthy application.

Focus on collecting the most vital data during the initial application process. For example, you can significantly simplify this initial process by allowing candidates to apply through platforms like Google or LinkedIn and use their existing profiles. This initial data collection should be enough to prescreen these prospective candidates. You can always request additional data during the recruitment process, if necessary.

Two women working together
Two women working together

4. invest in smart talent sourcing solutions

Fortunately, advancements in digital technology and automation have helped to simplify some aspects of the sourcing process. For example, email automation enables recruiters to enhance candidate engagement by remaining in continuous communication with prospective candidates. Here’s a look at other solutions that can improve sourcing outcomes.

  • analyze results

Today’s advanced technology allows your company to track nearly every aspect of the talent sourcing process, including application completion rate, social media reach, and email response ratio. These sourcing metrics enable you to determine which communication methods, including email, social media, phone, and online paid ads, offer the best results or how many touchpoints are required to entice a prospective candidate to complete the initial application process.

It’s vital to track these metrics on a continuous basis and to make adjustments to your current sourcing strategies as needed. This step will be crucial as the skills gap continues to grow and competition in the job market intensifies even more. You should also use digital tools to track online review boards and to assess the success of your employer branding efforts.

  • partner with an HR solutions company

There’s no denying the business leaders across industries are entering into uncharted territory as the market starts to fully reopen post-pandemic. It’s going to take time and resources to successfully navigate through these times. While sourcing prime candidates may be a top priority, there may just not be enough time and resources to go around.

The good news is that partnering with an HR solutions company, such as Randstad, can help your company save both time and money while improving overall recruitment results. Randstad already maintains a strong talent pipeline that can be tapped into immediately. Using advanced digital technology and professional sourcing experts that can instantly connect you with pre-vetted, prescreened candidates that best match your candidate criteria.

Depending on which company you partner with, it may also assist with job board posting. For example, our Randstad clients can leverage Monster, one of the world's largest job posting platforms, Monster has the power to reach both active and passive candidates.

Find these tips useful? Download our summary of these must-know strategies for attracting passive candidates so you can use them as a reference at any time.

about the author
philipp vogel
philipp vogel

Philipp Vogel

district manager

Philipp Vogel started his career as a polymechanic EFZ. Various further training courses led him to strategic purchasing and most recently to Randstad. Philipp has been working at Randstad for 15 years and, as District Manager, leads the branches from Basel to St.Gallen so that they achieve their goals. In his role, Philipp appreciates the daily variety and the great responsibility. In his free time he does kickboxing and is an active Basel carnival participant.

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