Actively Seeking Passive Candidates

‘A passive candidate is a qualified candidate for employment who isn’t necessarily looking for work, but who may be interested if the right job comes along.’

Alison Doyle, ‘About Careers’
It may be considered a cliché but the old maxim ‘it’s easier to get a job when you already have one’ actually contains a lot of truth especially for employers looking for candidates with very specific skills and experience.

Recent research undertaken by LinkedIn suggests that more than three-quarters of the world’s fully-employed workforce consider themselves passive candidates. The data show that only 25% of the workforce can be considered as actively looking for a new job, of which 13% may only be looking casually. And while 15% of working professionals indicate that they are completely satisfied with their current job and do not want to make a move, another 15% have indicated that they regularly and ‘surreptitiously’ talk to their network, while a further and massive 45% are ‘totally open to considering a new opportunity’ if they were to be approached by a recruiter.

This means that if 85% rather than 25% of the workforce are receptive to hearing from you about relevant new job opportunities, it may be time that you re-thought your current recruitment strategy. Passive candidates may not be actively looking but their receptiveness to considering relevant openings creates a huge recruitment opportunity if you want to find the best person for your job.

According to Recruitloop, the simplest reason for seeking out someone who is not actually looking for a job is that people with exact skills needed are often hard to find. And by the time you do reach them the timing is often such that they have already found someone else. Targeting passive candidates is especially relevant when you are looking to fill a role with someone who has very specific abilities – who best matches the skill set you are looking for.

Recruitment professionals have discovered that there are five key factors about passive candidates that need to be considered in order to effectively reach out to them. They have been shown:

•to be 120% more likely to want to make an impact within an organisation,
•to care more about employer branding and corporate culture. Studies have shown, for example, that 56% of passive candidates want to work in companies whose work culture best fits their personality. This suggests that you are likely to get motivated, engaged, and genuinely interested employees when you recruit passive candidates,
•to be 33% more likely to welcome challenging roles within an organisation,
•to be 17% less likely to need further skill development, meaning that they can make an immediate contribution to the business while saving on initial training costs,
•to be 21% less likely to need recognition when they make a contribution to a company.

It seems clear from this that if you want to attract passive talent then you need to ensure your business brand and corporate culture is strong enough to appeal to those with the culture fit you require. It may also be time that you created a proactive talent acquisition team if you do not already have one – and then focus them on figuring out exactly what it is that makes a satisfied passive candidate tick, how to influence their perception of your company as a good place to work, and what it is about your business that will win them over. And when you write your job advertisements, make sure that they emphasise how the candidate can make an impact or difference rather than just listing the usual required skills and experience.

According to Jobvite, a candidate’s lack of urgency for making a job change means they are unlikely to be interviewing with other companies and therefore less competition for you. They are also likely to be more truthful about their skills on their resumes; because you reached out to them first. But first you have to get their attention!

Use social media as much as you can and make sure that all your media profiles, company sites and application processes are mobile friendly. Make it easy for them to research your company by having multiple social media profiles.

When you next wonder why it’s better to take time and effort to persuade one currently happy employee to come and work for your organisation when you have so many eager applicants already sending their resumes and begging for a job, remember that since passive candidates are content in their work, they are clearly valuable assets to their current employers and therefore could be to you too.


If you have any questions about attracting passive candidates, please get in touch with the Recruitment Marketing Group team today and we will be able to assist you with your recruitment marketing requirements.

Simon Wright is the Director of Recruitment Marketing Group.

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