Talent Sourcing

Sourcing Passive Candidates: 5 Strategies to Try in 2022

May 21, 2022 - Valery Caputi Lopez

Getting more potential job candidates in your talent pipeline can be a challenge, especially in a hot labor market. Perhaps you have candidates applying to your job posting, but they don’t have the qualifications you are looking for. Or maybe the candidate search has been dragging on for a long time, and you're still on the hunt for the perfect candidate. If this is true for you, it may be time to integrate more passive candidate sourcing into your recruitment strategy. This overview will share why passive candidate sourcing should be a cornerstone of the recruitment process, as well as some of the best strategies for getting started.

What is Passive Candidate Sourcing?

Broadly speaking, prospective job applicants fall into two categories: active candidates and passive candidates. Active candidates are individuals who are currently seeking a new job and have either already applied for your job posting or likely would if they felt it was a match. On the other hand, passive candidates are individuals who are already employed and are not currently job hunting.

According to a recent survey by Willis Towers Watson, 44% of today’s employees are job seekers. While that’s a significant number, there’s still a lot of potential candidates you can reach if you expand your search to passive talent, too.

What are Passive Candidates Looking For? And What Are They Not Looking For?

Passive candidates are, presumably, already happy where they are. So your recruitment strategies will need to double down on why your company is a great place to work and why a change would be beneficial for their career. Some things that passive talent might be interested in include a higher paycheck, a more flexible work schedule, more attractive benefits, a better title, or more growth opportunities. It’s less likely that passive candidates will be willing to take a step down in title or salary, for instance, so make sure your offer is customized to your target candidates. While we never said attracting passive talent would be easy (in fact, it was voted as one of the top 5 challenges TA teams face in our recent research with the Talent Board!), here are some tried-and-true ways to make your passive candidate search all the more effective.  

How to Attract Passive Candidates

1. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

In addition to listing new roles on online job boards or your careers web page, post on your company’s social media accounts that you’re hiring. You can submit posts for specific job opportunities, as well as general “we’re hiring!” posts that list some of the job functions or departments that are currently open.

You can also source candidates directly through LinkedIn. Search by keywords and features like location, job function, job title, and industry to identify individuals who are a good match for the job description, and then send an introductory message directly through the platform. To maximize your chance of success with LinkedIn sourcing, read through the prospective candidate’s full profile to ensure their experience is a strong match, and always personalize your messages.

2. Implement an employee referral program

Word-of-mouth is a tried-and-true recruitment marketing strategy—and who better to drive applications than your current employees? Empower your coworkers to help with passive candidate sourcing by creating a referral program, in which the employee receives a reward (such as a cash bonus) if their referred candidate is hired for the job.

One way to kickstart your employee referral program is to encourage employees to share job posts with their social networks. You can even provide recommended language (or a pared down job description) for employees to share on their LinkedIn accounts.

3. Use recruiting tools like a candidate sourcing marketplace

Aside from the usual suspects of LinkedIn and your own ATS, it can be worth looking into additional recruiting databases to expand your prospective talent pool. For example, Brazen offers a marketplace that will enable you to source candidates for your virtual hiring events. This is especially helpful if you are looking to expand your talent pool through career fairs, or you have specific initiatives underway related to DEI recruiting.

4. Reach out to candidates who have previously applied for roles at your company

You already have a treasure trove of prospective candidates in your applicant tracking system (ATS), so use this as another source for passive candidate recruiting. Search for resumes that applied for similar positions you’ve hired in the past year or two, and consider reaching out to let them know of a new opportunity. The benefit of this method is that you know the prospective candidate is already familiar with your organization and was interested enough to apply for a role. If you haven’t already, configure your applicant systems to incorporate tags or notes from previous interviews with strong candidates so you can keep an eye on them for future roles.

5. Strengthen your employer brand

One of the best long-term strategies for passive candidate sourcing is to cultivate a reputation as a great company to work for. This will go a long way not only in attracting both active candidates and passive candidates, but also in retaining current employees.

On the digital front, keep your company’s Glassdoor page up-to-date and make sure you have a strong social media presence that highlights not only your company’s services or products, but also its people, mission, and company culture. Feature employees’ stories, current DEI initiatives, team-building events, and a snapshot of what it’s like to work there. If you offer a great company culture and benefits, your current employees may also be more likely to refer candidates to open roles.

Finally, remember that your employer brand doesn’t end with recruitment marketing. It applies to the full candidate experience from application to the offer letter, as well as onboarding for new hires, and the day-to-day for employees currently working at the company. By becoming the employer of choice for current and future employees, you can position yourself for long-term success in recruiting and retention.

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