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How to Recruit a Candidate Who Isn't Actively Seeking a Job

In the field of recruiting, we have a term for someone who isn’t currently looking for a job, but is the ideal match for an open position at another place of employment. These people are called “passive candidates.” Before we can talk about how to recruit them, we should first talk about why some companies need to recruit passive candidates in the first place.

We are currently in a candidate-driven market, which means that there are more positions available in almost every industry than there are qualified job applicants. Job seekers have a ton of freedom to pick and choose where they want to work based on all kinds of qualifications that didn’t previously come into play. For example, job applicants might only be willing to consider workplaces with flexible schedules, an extremely competitive salary, telecommuting options, or significant opportunities for advancement.

Recruiting in 2019 - Guide to Trends and Best Practices

Job candidates are in a great position because of this economic reality, but unfortunately, this puts hiring managers and recruiters at a bit of a disadvantage. It can take a lot longer to advertise, interview for, and fill a position because there simply aren’t enough qualified job seekers.

This is why recruiters and hiring managers sometimes need to consider moving beyond job boards and pursue a passive candidate. After all, that perfect candidate is out there somewhere. Perhaps you just haven’t found them because they’re not looking for you!

Here are four strategies to recruit the ideal candidate who isn’t currently seeking a job:

One: Develop a strong workplace culture.

This first step requires a lot of time, effort, and intentionality. All workplaces have a culture of their own, but a culture that captures the attention of passive candidates is one that is cultivated. In other words, you have to figure out what strategies will create high employee morale that leads your workers to talk about how great it is to work there. You need to create an environment where your workers feel valued and important.

Competitive pay, good benefits, and high quality management is part of the picture. Going beyond that, you can create a workplace where there are healthy expectations of work/life balance, morale-building activities and opportunities, and funding options for professional development and further education.
Of course, this can’t be started when you realize you need a new employee. This should be something your upper level managers are working on from the very beginning, and it will make recruiting a lot easier.

Two: Communicate your workplace culture to passive candidates.

How will you communicate this culture that you’ve developed?

The best way to do this is through word-of-mouth. When your workers are happy, they tell their friends, family members, and colleagues in the industry. They share stories about work on social media and at professional conferences or industry events. Having happy, fulfilled employees leads to more high quality applicants.

We also recommend working hard on your brand, not just as a marketing tool to potential clients and customers, but to potential employees as well. Having a clearly defined brand and purpose can create awareness of who you are in the industry, and that will lead people to want to work for you. Your goal should be to make people think, “It would be cool to work for that company someday,” so that when you approach a passive candidate, they have already thought positively about working for you before.

Three: Start an employee referral program.

A growing trend in recruiting is developing an employee referral program. Passive candidates don’t always respond well when approached by recruiters or hiring managers at other companies. However, they respond much more positively when approached by a friend who says, “Look, there’s a position open where I work, and I think you would be a perfect fit.”

That’s why referral programs are growing in popularity. They benefit employers by reducing the time and cost of finding great candidates. At the same time, they benefit employees by creating a collaborative work environment where they get to work with the people they want to work with. Employees also enjoy the perks of a financial incentive if you offer one.

Four: Think about bringing in a professional recruiter.

Finding passive candidates and successfully recruiting them isn’t a simple task, even if you follow our advice. You need to be careful in the ways that you approach passive candidates so as not to make them turn you away from the start. And you need to understand the nuances of recruiting that doesn’t get perceived as talent poaching.

Bringing in a professional recruiter can save you a lot of time and wasted effort, and can even save you money! Developing a relationship with a great recruiting firm gives you access to top tier talent that you otherwise wouldn’t know about, and it also allows you to find passive candidates without stepping on toes or feeling lost.

Want to have a conversation about how to know if a professional recruiter is the best next step for you? Contact us today! You can also download our free offer, Recruiting Trends in 2019, to learn more about the best recruiting practices in today’s candidate-driven marketplace. We look forward to learning about your company and how we can help you find your ideal candidates, including those who aren’t looking for a job right now.

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