SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

4 Ways to Win Over Passive Candidates

Successfully recruiting passive candidates requires mastering the art of persuasion.

According to LinkedIn’s hiring statistics, only 30 percent of people are actively looking for new jobs. This means 70 percent of LinkedIn users are passive candidates who are content (or at least fairly content) in their current role. So you need to do more than post a job ad to get their attention.

You need to show passive candidates that you’ve done your research. You need to convince them that life will be tangibly better at your company.  And you need to adjust your approach to make life as convenient as possible for them in the early stages of your hiring process.

Of course, there are many different factors that can persuade passive candidates, and they vary considerably from person to person. As there is no one-size-fits-all approach, recruiting passive candidates is more of an art form than a science.  

However, there are some fundamentals that apply across the board. So to help increase your chances of getting a yes, here’s are four ways to make your opportunity stand out amongst all the noise.

1. Use video to strengthen your employer brand.

phone video recording man at table.

When it comes to attracting passive candidates, everything ultimately hinges on the strength of your employer brand. Its importance cannot be overstated. While the other tips in this article are helpful, they won’t be much use if your employer brand doesn’t resonate with what candidates are looking for. Keep in mind the most pressing question for every passive candidate is:

“Is this new opportunity worth leaving the security and familiarity of my current role?”

Your employer brand should convince them that the answer is a resounding “Yes”.  And the most influential tool for doing that convincing is video. Why? Because video strengthens the authenticity of your brand like no other medium.

Passive candidates don’t just have to take your word for it. They can see how great your company and culture is with their own eyes. Indeed, according to research by the Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies are 75 percent more likely to use video tools for employer branding. This helps them grab the attention of great talent with much greater ease.  

Use video to give candidates a flavor of daily life inside your company. If often helps to feature employees talking about why they joined the company and the aspects of their job they like the most. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a hefty budget to make your recruitment video a reality. These days, iPhones, Go Pros, and freely available editing software are more than capable of creating a polished production.

2. Offer what their current role doesn’t.

Passive candidates are very unlikely to jump ship from their current role to take on an almost identical position somewhere else. So to ensure your opportunity catches their attention, it needs to have some unique differentiators.

When you find a candidate who’d be a great fit for one of your open roles, then it’s time to do your research. A bit of detective work should reveal at least some of the limitations of their current role. Are they likely being underpaid? Maybe the environment is a poor fit for them? Have they been pigeon-holed with limited opportunities for growth?

Once you’ve identified a specific pain point for the candidate, highlight this in your outreach. Emphasize how your role will make life easier by resolving the issue for them.

3. Invest time in genuine personalization.

Woman with glasses standing in front of colorful wall.

Cookie-cutter outreaches save huge amounts of time. But they rarely engage passive candidates. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Would you take time out of a busy schedule to respond to a message that looks like it’s been sent to hundreds of other people? Probably not.

Personalized messaging shows people that you care, as you’ve clearly taken the time to research them. It also significantly increases the response rate. Generic templates typically generate less than 20 percent response rate. Far from ideal.

Getting into the habit of always taking the quick and easy outreach option is terrible for the candidate experience, terrible for your employer brand, and terrible for sustainable success in recruitment. Becoming great at personalized outreach takes consistent training and practice. You won’t always get it right. But in the interest of your employer brand, it’s well worth the time investment.

4. Use video interviewing to make life more convenient.

These days, everyone is short on time. So one of the biggest challenges recruiters face when it comes to hiring passive candidates is persuading them to make time to attend an interview. In reality, only a small percentage of passive candidates are willing to make that kind of commitment early in the hiring process.

But what if you could remove the barrier to entry here? With video interviewing, you can. Candidates can record their answers to a set of predetermined questions via a video platform at a time that suits them. They can do their first stage interview from the comfort of their own home. Making the early stages of your hiring process as convenient as possible will help bring more great talent into your pipeline.

James Deeney

James Deeney

James Deeney is a content editor at Venturi, a specialist IT recruitment agency. When he isn't writing research-driven articles on technology, leadership, and staffing, he enjoys listening to podcasts and trying to maintain a consistent meditation practice.