Hiring & Recruiting

Finding Passive Candidates

Open positions are becoming tougher and tougher to fill. Recruiters are looking for options to find more candidates for each role simply to have more options to choose from. Sometimes it’s difficult to even find someone qualified.

One option some recruiters use is to recruit individuals who aren’t actively jobseeking: passive candidates. These individuals have to be pursued because, by definition, they’re not going to be applying for the job otherwise.

The first question is, Where can you find passive candidates that are appropriate for your role?

And then, How do you get them to apply? After all, they’re probably at least mostly satisfied with the job they’re in—otherwise they’d likely already be searching.

How to Find Passive Candidates

Here are some of the ways to find passive candidates:

  • Attend networking events like industry conferences, with the goal of seeking out potential candidates and making an initial connection. This builds the talent pipeline. Conferences are just one example. There may be other options, such as training events or even social events that are sponsored by a relevant industry group. Don’t forget to look for these types of events in areas that may be well outside your normal geographic scope.
  • Create your own networking event. If you want to create interest while networking, consider creating your own networking event. This will bring potential passive candidates to you—which could be valuable now or in the future. Be sure to create an event that has benefits for attendees—it shouldn’t just be a job fair, as that will miss the point.
  • Use social media connections. By keeping an active social media presence that focuses on ensuring the company appeals to potential candidates, you may already have connections who could be future employees. This is especially relevant for job-focused social media sites, such as LinkedIn®, where you can even view candidate work profiles and directly contact them. Consider also being active in groups online, such as LinkedIn or Facebook groups that are relevant for your organization.
  • Set up an employee referral program. Employees can be a great source of potential applicants—their friends may be good for a role but not job searching. If you give the employees an incentive to tell their friends (or those in their network) about a job, there’s a greater likelihood they’ll think of someone who may be qualified and interested.
  • Keep an eye on the news—watch for changes in your industry that may prompt others to be more receptive to a new job. For example, if a competitor has a layoff or other problem, there may be not only people about to be laid off but also frustrated employees who were not looking but are now concerned.
  • Review your own files. Previous applicants who were not selected may still be eager to work for your organization (assuming their rejection was handled appropriately, of course). Comb your own files for individuals who are qualified but simply were not the first selection when they originally applied. This could also apply to anyone who was offered a role but initially rejected it (within reason). For example, if the original offer was rejected due to the pay amount, and that amount has now increased, it may make sense to reach out to see if there is still interest.

In part 2 of the article we’ll take a look at some of the ways employers may be able to convince a passive candidate to become an active candidate.