You’ve got your eyes set on that perfect candidate. Skills that match your needs? Check. Experience? Again, check. The right values? Absolutely. An excellent fit that could hit the ground running almost from day one.
The only problem? They’re not looking for a job.
Perhaps they’re not exceptionally thrilled with their current role, but haven’t decided on a future career path — or even someone who was once a candidate for another role in your company.
But for whatever reason, they’re passive candidates for now, not really in the job market.
The irony is that some passive candidates may be better for a specific role than anyone actively looking, so how do you best engage with these candidates? A recent SmartRecruiters webinar offered some excellent tips.
According to LinkedIn, about 60 percent of candidates are “semi-passive.” The upside is that these candidates are already on your radar and you’ve already spent time evaluating them. The downside is that they’re tougher to engage — perhaps unwilling to talk to you, let alone consider an offer.
Being real. Being genuine. It really pays off.
Overall, you can engage more effectively with passive candidates when you’ve established an employer brand that reflects values likely to resonate with them, and you’ve demonstrated those values.
Think about it this way: Would you rather buy a product or service from an organization you already know and respect than from some company you’ve never heard of?
With that in mind, here are 9 specific ideas for engaging with passive candidates from our webinar:
1. Don’t be impersonal
Cold phone calls and emails aren’t very productive. Engage with passive candidates through mentioning some common experience to break the ice. Even better? Ask a third party who knows you both to introduce you.
2. Never forget your story
That great employer brand you have should ring through all of your communications, so there’s no excuse for boring job ads. Make sure each one emphasizes the positive impact a candidate would have and success they’d enjoy.
3. Deliver an excellent application and interview experience
Even active candidates drop out when applications take seemingly forever and interviews are tough to schedule. Be flexible because passive candidates already have jobs – and remember, you’re reaching out to them so you owe them respect and courtesy.
4. Don’t treat your company as a monolith
Just as you don’t hire a resume, but hire a person, present your opportunity in terms of the specific team a candidate will work with. Each department in your organization has its own subculture, so help candidates envision themselves in that setting – even introducing them to team members.
5. Don’t sell a job you don’t have
Not being open with passive candidates can be costly, so always be honest about the specific nature of a role you’re trying to fill. It’s better to part ways than onboard a new employee who will leave in a few months and put you back at square one.
6. Don’t frame leaving as “selling out”
Candidates who are undecided may have conflicting feelings of somehow being disloyal to their current employers. Helping them make the decision that’s best for them enhances your own reputation long into the future.
7. Get hiring managers involved early on
All too many opportunities to hire a great candidate get lost when recruiters don’t collaborate effectively with hiring managers. The hiring manager is actually in a better position to sell a job than you are, so be sure you’re both working together as an effective team.
8. Expand your focus
Sometimes we tend to focus too narrowly on one candidate. When it comes to screening, think about “screening in,” not “screening out.” That way, you build a talent pool where you may be able to engage with several excellent passive candidates for a role.
9. Don’t hire quickly because of time pressures
Being in such a rush that you hire the wrong person can be a very expensive mistake, both in time and money. If a candidate isn’t the right fit, keep looking. You can always stay in touch with passive candidates for future needs.
Be proactive to attract those great passive candidates
Remember, passive candidates can be a better fit for highly specific roles than anyone actively looking, but engaging with them requires some unique approaches.
I’ve only barely scratched the surface on these issues, so be sure to watch our webinar, “9 Ways to Engage Passive Candidates.”