Proactively Recruit Passive Candidates

man-on-phoneAs a recruiter or talent acquisition professional you are judged on your ability to identify, recruit, interview, and hire better talent than your competitors. Your hiring managers expect you to recruit the best talent for their open requisitions, not just the best candidate who answers a website posting or job board ad.

The best talent are often passive candidates who are currently working.  According to LinkedIn, your website postings or job board ads only attract 15% of the workforce.

Your Hiring Managers Understand That You Will:

  1. Post their opportunity on the employment pages of your website.
  2. Advertise their opportunity on job boards (if that is part of your recruiting process).
  3. Encourage referrals from employees.

When these resources don’t result in a hire, they want you to source and recruit passive candidates. These candidates have the experience, education, skills, credentials, and stability your hiring managers require. Your candidates must also be a fit for the company’s core values and company culture. Not an easy task!

Recruiting passive candidates is different than interviewing candidates who have answered an ad or sent you an unsolicited resume or CV. Passive candidates have been known to withhold information, increase demands, change priorities, ghost you, or use you to receive a counteroffer from their current employer. However, when you become proficient at recruiting and develop trust based on rapport, you can reduce these problems. You can’t change what candidates do or say, but you can change your recruiting techniques to obtain better results.

Passive Candidates (represent 85% of the workforce)

The best talent to fill your requisitions are often employed. Most people don’t intend to retire from their current job and are often willing to listen to new opportunities that represent their next career move.

However, keep the following in mind when recruiting passive candidates:

  • Don’t assume what a candidate is currently doing is what they want to do next.
  • Identify the real reason each candidate will consider a new opportunity.
  • Develop rapport which will lead to trust because initially you are a stranger the candidate doesn’t know or trust.
  • Uncover motivators for each candidate to accept a new job. Money is always a consideration but there are other factors including work | life balance, training and development, flexibility, the ability to work virtually, supporting philanthropic causes that resonate with a candidate, or unique benefits and perks.

Recruiting Presentations That Attract Passive Candidates

Create and utilize recruiting scripts and add your personality. Here is a sample recruiting script that you could alter to fit the level of positions you represent and your personality and brand.

My name is (your name).  I’ve helped other individuals with similar experience to you advance in their career, and would like to know what you see as your next career move?

Passive candidates are tired of recruiters telling them that they reviewed their LinkedIn Profile and have the perfect opportunity for them.  Many candidates do not want to do what they are currently doing, and this type of “sales pitch” does not earn their respect or a response.

If you were referred to a candidate by someone you would adjust the script.  Referred candidates are the best because of the inferred level of trust they have for the person who recommended them.

My name is (your name) and I was referred to you by (person’s name). During our conversation I asked (person’s name) who the best (job title) was from their last place of employment, and they immediately gave me your name. I’ve helped other (job title) with similar experience to yours advance in their career and could possibly do the same for you. What do you see as your next career move?

If the person who referred this person does not want you to share their name, you would use the following script:

My name is (your name) someone suggested we talk. I always ask individuals who I’m representing who they respect from their last places of employment and that is how I received your name. I enjoy helping individuals advance in their career and wondered what you see as your next career move?

Be prepared to overcome common objections you will hear from candidates. If this person is not interested in discussing their next career move, switch your presentation to ask for referrals.

During your recruiting presentations if you ask someone who is working “who they know” or if they can “provide you with referrals of top talent,” you will almost always hear, “I don’t know anyone!” Of course, they know people they could refer to you. A more honest response would be, “I don’t know or trust you, why would I give you referrals.” The common perception is that you are asking them to provide names of their co-workers which makes them uncomfortable, because they are loyal to their current employer.

This is where the extremely powerful six words will dramatically change your results when you’re making recruiting calls. Those six words are, from your last place of employment.” You will ask, “Who the best (job title) from your last place of employment?

This prevents the response, “I don’t know anyone” because of course they remember who the best people were in their Profession from their last place of employment. There is also no loyalty to a past employer, which is why this question almost always results in them providing you with a name. Recruiting an administrative assistant is much different than recruiting a CEO.

When candidates understand the value of utilizing you as their recruiter, often candidates will utilize your services in the future. Benefit of working with you. In recruiting, timing is always a consideration. The talent you contact would benefit greatly from your services.

You owe it to your prospective candidates to become proficient at recruiting passive candidates. You then focus on the benefits and value they will experience by being represented by you and hopefully becoming an engaged and retained employee.



Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno

Barbara Bruno, author of HIGH-TECH HIGH-TOUCH RECRUITING: How To Attract And Retain The Best Talent By Improving The Candidate Experience, is an internationally recognized recruiting expert who has a proven track record of helping recruiters and talent acquisition professionals become more successful and less stressed. She has created several popular LinkedIn Learning courses and is president of Good As Gold Training, HR Search, Inc., and Happy Candidates.

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