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5 Ways to Find Passive Job Applicants (And Why You Should)

Talent recruitment is a challenging, time-intensive, and expensive process. Each open position costs a typical company approximately $500 a day. Still, as a business owner, you must strive to find the right talent for the job, especially for critical positions. 

But how can you find the right candidate the first time?

While there are no guarantees, recruiting passive candidates is a critical step towards hiring high-quality talent. 

This post fixates on the elusive passive candidate, helping you understand who they are, what makes them 'special,' and how you can find them. 

Who is a Passive Job Seeker?

A passive job seeker is a person currently employed and NOT actively looking for new opportunities. Nonetheless, they may be open to 'good' career opportunities that suit their skills and expected compensation. 

Passive candidates are generally happy in their current position. Or they haven't considered switching to a different role or company yet. These candidates are only likely to move to another company for:

  • Better compensation and benefits 
  • Better work/life balance 
  • Better recognition
  • Career advancement  
  • More challenging work
  • Better fit for skillset and expertise 

Why Is It Beneficial to Search Out Passive Job Applicants?

As mentioned, passive candidates are content in their current roles. And they are likely a valuable asset to their employer. Their lack of urgency or desperation for a new job makes them desirable.

For one, they are unlikely to lie about their skills or expertise on their resume. They don't feel the need to impress you with inflated work experiences. Moreover, they are unlikely to be interviewing with other recruiters. That, in turn, translates to less competition for you. 

Here's a quick overview of why it's beneficial to search out passive job applicants. 

They require fewer resources and energy to onboard 

Seventy-five percent of passive applicants research potential employers upfront. 

Therefore, if a person has been following your employer brand for a while and decides to come on board, chances are they've researched your company, and they know your values, history, etc., which lightens the onboarding process. 

With the candidate already working in the target field, they have the skills and expertise you're looking for. That further shortens the training process. You only need to get them up to speed with your business operations.  

There's a lot of them (literally) 

Passive job applicants make up over 70% of the global workforce. So not sourcing talent from the "passive candidate pool" only limits your searching efforts. 

Less competition 

You've probably been there before: Gone three interview rounds with a promising active candidate only for them to accept an offer from your competitor. 

Passive candidates are less likely to be interviewing. If they reach out to you, chances are they are interested in your company specifically. That limits competition in a tight labor market.

They are passionate about growth 

43% of passive candidates would switch companies if it meant advancing their careers. They care about their growth and can trickle down their growth mindset to the development of your company. 

Side note, locating and successfully wooing passive job applicants helps you remain competitive in an already tight labor market. It also helps strengthen your employer brand, which, in turn, helps reach even more potential candidates. 

How to Find and Appeal to Passive Candidates 

Seeing that passive candidates are not actively looking for new opportunities, they are not easy to find. You have to deploy a different strategy and cultivate your employer's brand.

Here are some of the ways you can source passive candidates (beyond the job boards.)

#1: Control the conversation

Start by creating a candidate persona if you haven't already. And factor in your company's current and projected recruitment needs. 

To do so, assess your staffing needs to identify the gaps in your company's workforce, including skills and knowledge. Use the insights to determine the type of passive candidates to target and what relationships to build for future positions. 

While at it, emphasize cultural fit over compensation, benefits, and such other specifics. 

#2: Strengthen your employer brand 

Strengthening your employer brand (EB) should be a priority. For one, 75% of candidates will research your company's hiring reputation upfront. Two, a strong EB reduces the cost per hire by 50% and turnover by 28%. 

Moreover, passive applicants are usually attracted to companies with strong employer brands. (More so if the EB aligns with their values and goals.) 

Examples of 'strong' EBs:

  • Giving back to the community through employee volunteering 
  • Employee ownership in the company 
  • A fun, free-thinking workplace that's focused on collaboration and innovation 
  • Dedication to professional growth and development 

You can strengthen your EB by:

  • Sponsoring community events (giving back to the community)
  • Providing opportunities for employees to volunteer for community projects 
  • Applying to regional (or local) HR awards that depict your company as an employer of choice 
  • Marketing your employer brand as you would other services 

#3: Create a database to store candidate information

Create a candidate database where you can 'keep' your past interviewee's data. 

See, while an applicant may not have qualified for a past position, they might be the 'right fit for a future role. 

With a candidate database, document a candidate's qualifications, experiences, strengths, etc. Then refer back to it whenever you have a vacant position. 

#4: Use referrals

Employee referrals are a great way to source passive talents. 48% of companies credit their top-quality hires to employee referrals. 

The reason is simple. Your employees likely know the type of talent the company needs to grow and excel. They also know people in their network who could be a perfect fit. 

One option to encourage referrals, is to establish an employee referral program. Offer a bonus to an employee whenever you successfully recruit their referrals. 

#5: Leverage social media 

Many workers spend time in professional online groups. As an employer, you can use hashtags and advanced search features on LinkedIn and Twitter to find people talking about your desired expertise and skillset.

Additionally, it's important to update positive-happenings on your Facebook page to inspire candidates to take the desired action. Use Facebook ads to promote job openings to your curated candidate persona.

You can also use overlooked channels like Reddit to access people in subgroups specific to your niche or desired skillset. 

The secret here is to go where passive candidates go and look where they look. (Be it virtually or physically.) For instance, if you're looking for data analysts, target Big Data associations like the Association of Big Data Professionals and Data Science Association. Attend their networking events or visit their job boards.  

Be creative too. For instance, create a blog or video explaining what it is like working with you. Run ads on online TV and radio stations or other places where your target candidates spend time. And so on. 

Getting Passive Candidates to Apply

The key to hiring passive job applicants is to get their attention. To do so, you can:

  • Show them that your open position is better than their current role (in terms of compensation, career advancement, recognition, etc.)
  • Build authentic relationships with them (get to know their skillsets, goals, and values)
  • Make the application process easy (to access and complete)

Be Proactive About Hiring Passive Candidates

While challenging, finding and building relationships with passive job seekers can be rewarding. That is knowing your passive candidate persona, their preferences, online behaviors, and more. And using the resulting insights to plan your approach. 

You should also mix your search techniques, be authentic, and be creative. Think of building and strengthening your employer brand with FB campaigns that target specific Facebook members.  

Contact us for more information.