Talent Sourcing

Why You Should Keep Sourcing Passive Candidates Right Now

Dec 07, 2021 - Cat DiStasio

Passive candidates—those who aren’t actively looking for a job but who may be lured away by the right opportunity—have long been a valuable source of talent for employers in nearly every industry. And right now, they might be the easiest to overlook. While the talent market is flooded with active job seekers, talent acquisition teams would be remiss not to prioritize passive candidates right now, and there are a lot of reasons why.

Research shows that over half (55%) of Americans will consider a new job in the next year. And a recent Monster poll puts that figure as high as 95%. This tells us that, even if people aren’t actively looking right now, they may be very ready for their next opportunity if you reach out to them first.

Focusing on passive candidates is another way to make the most of talent sourcing strategies and build a more robust talent pipeline. When you work now to fill your talent community with great candidates, the dividends can pay off for months or even years to come. This is particularly true if you’re an employer that is offering many of the things today’s candidates want most, such as remote work, flexible schedules, and career development opportunities.

Passive Candidates Will Always Be a Valuable Talent Market

Right now, the talent market is flooded with active candidates and many of them have a laundry list of demands of their next employer. Many of them won’t settle for anything short of their dream job at their dream company, so they’re being choosier about which potential employers they engage with. While passive candidates may also aspire to a dream job, it may not be the most important factor in their next career move. Instead, they may just be looking for a change of pace or for an employer that is more willing to address rising concerns today’s workers have, compared with their current employer. Whether they realize it or not, they may just be waiting for the next patch of greener grass to come along and catch their eye.

There are two ways to think about this dichotomy. There’s the short-sighted view that suggests you only need to appear slightly better than a passive candidate’s current employer to make a hire—and that mindset isn’t going to serve you in the long term, as it leads to higher turnover. Or, you can see this as an opportunity to reveal your organization as the dream employer a passive candidate never knew to look for.

In this second approach, the focus is on finding candidates who are truly a match for the job openings you have, from a skills and aptitude perspective, as well as where your mission and values are concerned. By engaging with lots of passive candidates and working to educate them about your company culture, you’ll have an easier time identifying which candidates’ personal values align with your company values, because they’ll continue engaging with you.

Tips for Sourcing Passive Candidates

The tactics for sourcing passive candidates amid the Great Resignation are, unsurprisingly, not all that different than in pre-pandemic times. What’s changed is the technology available to employers that want to invest more in passive candidates.

  1. Investing more in recruitment marketing to build awareness is still a solid step in the right direction. Once you’ve identified some high value passive candidates (through employee referrals, social media, or even AI tools), lean into recruitment marketing with targeted, personalized messaging to get their attention and create opportunities for engagement.
  2. You can also reach out directly to passive candidates on top career sites (especially niche sites) and get creative by looking for passive talent in other places. One unique tip for sourcing passive candidates is to review the speaker lists of industry conferences and reaching out to speakers who might fit the kinds of openings you have (either now or in the future—again, sourcing passive talent can be a long game).
  3. Host virtual events that aren’t just job/career fairs. We mentioned this earlier but it’s such good advice that it bears repeating. Passive candidates respond well to informational and educational events, networking sessions, hackathons and other virtual events that offer an instant and unique benefit. As a bonus, these types of events help strengthen your employer brand, which in turn helps you connect with passive candidates.
  4. Leverage a sourcing marketplace to gain more traction with passive candidates. Having an events sourcing strategy helps you attract passive talent to your virtual events, and a sourcing marketplace broadens your reach so you can tap into new talent pools to get attention.
Sourcing Marketplace CTA


Nurture Long-Term Relationships with Passive Candidates

While many passive candidates could be ready to accept a new offer within days, chances are it’ll take a little longer to convert most passive candidates. Your job is to give them plenty of reasons to stay curious about your organization and plenty of opportunities to engage with you.

Passive candidates generally want regular communication (via the channel they select—email, text, or something else), and they want to hear about open positions that might fit their skill set or interests, as well as upcoming virtual events you’re hosting. Invite passive candidates to learn more about your organization’s culture, mission, and job openings on a regular basis, and offer events with instant benefits, like virtual information sessions on topics relevant to the industry and other resources that will help them become better at their job, wherever they happen to work.

Ongoing social media campaigns can also help you stay in touch with passive candidates. Create and execute strategies to promote job openings and virtual events across social media channels, especially those where your target passive candidates are likely to engage. Throughout your communications, highlight your company’s culture, values, and incorporate employee stories that help passive candidates envision what it would be like to work at your organization.

Don’t Be Passive about Passive Talent

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, heading into the last month of the calendar year, there are still around a million more available jobs than active job seekers. This disparity alone is enough reason to prioritize passive talent in your candidate sourcing strategy. But remember, as we mentioned earlier, many of today’s workers will become active job seekers within the next year. If you start working now to build relationships with them, you have a good shot at finding matches for your openings before they start interacting with your competitors.

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