6 Innovative Ways Recruiters Can Attract Passive Candidates

Feb 24, 2015 -
You know all the usual methods of luring in talent: writing a killer job description, setting up shop at a job fair and creating a “Careers” section on your website. But all of these strategies rely on one crucial factor -- that the talented candidates you want are actually looking for a job. If you focus solely on these active candidates, you could be missing out on some great talent. As it turns out, 44 percent of employed workers identified themselves as “passive” candidates, or people investing little to no effort in searching out new job opportunities, according to a recent study by CEB. Passive candidates aren’t necessarily un-interested candidates. Many could be open to a new position if the right job comes along -- and if that right job does come along, they can prove to be a valuable asset to their new employer. The CEB data showed that passive candidates perform 9 percent higher as new hires and are 25 percent more likely to stay at an organization than traditional candidate… possibly because they’ve been custom-selected by recruiters who know they’d be a great fit for the position. So, how do you find these promising prospects who aren’t actively trying to be found? Here are six smart ways to locate -- and woo -- those elusive passive candidates. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Go online and get connected

A consistent, engaging digital presence is key to establishing connections with candidates who may not be job hunting right now. By sharing information about your company on a blog and on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you help people get to know your company on a more personal level -- which can help them realize they’d love to work for you. Glen Loveland, HR Manager for CCTV News, is an advocate of setting up a LinkedIn company page. “It gives you an opportunity to create ‘followers’ who will receive your company updates,” he says. “If someone becomes familiar with your brand several years in advance of an opening, it means that if/when you want to hire them, they already have a high level of familiarity with your brand.” Lisa Rangel, an Executive Resume Writer, Official LinkedIn Moderator and creator of the Forbes Top 100 Career Website Chameleon Resumes, recommends taking things one step further and actively seeking out potential candidates on LinkedIn:
Mine targeted profiles on LinkedIn using Advanced Search or LinkedIn Recruiter. Don’t ignore poorly formatted LinkedIn profiles, if the company and title are high-quality -- golden nuggets of passive candidates can be found in these types of profiles. However, do not pass on properly optimized profiles, either. They may not be looking, but [they] know their value and how to manage their brand.

2. Host live events

Connecting in real life can also make a big difference. By hosting an open house or one of Brazen's online networking events, you invite top talent into your company, where they can get to know the culture, colleagues and overall vibe in a more casual setting. Margaret Buj, a Senior Recruiter and Interview Coach, has seen the success of live events. “Last year… we were looking for several developers for various brands within [of my client companies]. We invited about 50 employees to our office to an informal event, and a technical lead from each brand would do a short presentation talking about working for their brand, technologies etc. It was very successful and we hired seven candidates from this event, if I remember correctly.” And traditional events don’t have to be your only option.“I've been doing some intense nontraditional recruiting for a startup in Boston,”  says drew Wallace, Director of Marketing at Roundtown (who spells his first name with a lowercase “d”). “Roundtown.com is an event site, so I used a lot of code, recruiting, startup and UI/UX events to try and find talent.”

3. Get your employees to recruit for you

Sometimes the best way to attract passive candidates is with passive recruiting -- creating a corporate environment so appealing your employees are happy to spread the word about how great it is to work for you. Whether it’s taking the time to recognize your top employees or offering attractive perks, if you treat your workers well, they’re likely to tell their friends and family, who just might realize yours is the company they want to be at, too. A little monetary incentive doesn’t hurt, either. “We have a referral scheme in which employees receive a bonus if a person recommended by them gets hired,” says Buj. “This scheme is being promoted across the business to create a ‘recruiting culture’ within the company.”

4. Go old-school

Loveland reminds recruiters that sometimes the “old-fashioned” pays off, too. He works in media, and when overseas journalists visit his area, he invites them out for coffee or a drink for some one-on-one networking. “Yes, this approach takes time,” he says, “but it can pay dividends later. Even if you don't end up hiring these candidates, being able to drop them an email and say, ‘Hey, can you recommend anyone for this opening?’ is golden.”

5. Nurture a talent pipeline

Sometimes you find a candidate who seems ideal but they’re just not ready to switch jobs at this time. Or maybe you locate a rising star, but they’re still finishing up school and not yet ready for a job. When you find these people, you want to make sure they stay in your contacts list -- and that you stay in their minds. Natalina Verta, Head of Talent for Decibel Insight, believes this is key for winning over top talent:
Attracting passive candidates is about scouting for talent before a job opportunity arises -- building a pipeline of talent and relationships with potential candidates who… have the potential and are on the right career trajectory to be of interest at some point in the future. Once you’ve identified them, it’s about building relationships and staying in touch.
Keep these candidates on your radar, and keep yourself on theirs -- and one day you could have a perfect match.

6. Set yourself apart as the place to work

One thing many of the recruiters we spoke with referred to was the importance of “employer branding” -- finding out what your ideal recruits are looking for in a company and making a point of portraying those things in your communications and PR. Trevor Lamson, Senior Recruiting Consultant with CONNECTED Recruiting Ltd., advocates honesty when it comes to identifying your organization’s unique offering:
The best thing a company can do is be true to itself; the company needs to understand what they do better than others. Maybe it is potential for internal promotions, maybe it is amazing benefits, a fun office, high pay, etc. It really doesn't matter what it is; you just need to understand it and who would be particularly interested in it.
The next step is to incorporate your unique message throughout all of your other strategies, whether via your blog or by hosting an event. “It’s not enough to simply say ‘we’re great,’” Vertay says. “You have to contribute something useful and engaging.” Also helpful? Winning a little social proof to really get people’s attention. Lamson recommends applying for “HR lists that suggest the company is an employee favorite,” like  ‘Canada's Top 100 Employers. “Because people like to research and be informed, it becomes reassuring to them to pursue opportunities within organizations that are shown to be better.” Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

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