Strategy for Recruiting Passive Candidates

Posted by Kathleen Smith

You don’t need to be a 20-year industry veteran to know that recruiting passive cleared candidates will need a completely fresh strategy that’s different from the tactics you employ to source active applicants.

Likewise you realize that passive cleared candidates are vital because typically the top talent doesn’t need to conduct a job search in the traditional way.  And sadly (for recruiters) when the top tier candidates do step into the actively looking category they don’t stay there for long because some fortunate company grabs them up quickly.  So what’s the best way to tap into this talent pool?

There is not a swift solution but a wise recruiter will take measures for proactive sourcing.

The strategy of proactive sourcing is a genuine investment, taking both time and effort, but with market conditions being the way they are, recruiters will need to make a preemptive effort if they want to be successful in landing top cleared talent.

Here are some thoughts for tackling proactive sourcing.

Grabbing the Candidate’s Attention

Many recruiters will set themselves up for dismissal in the way they approach a candidate.  For example asking, “Do you have a moment to hear about a position at ABC Company?”

For the passive candidate, the most likely response is “No.”

A more persuasive way to engage a candidate would be by asking, “Are you open to exploring a role that is significantly superior to what you are doing today?”  Or maybe, “What are some of the challenges you are looking to tackle in your career?” This approach generally will get a positive response the majority of the time.

Lead Them Past Any Objections

Now that you’ve bought yourself a window with this candidate, don’t spend that time managing their objections.  If a candidate expresses a concern about the company or heads right into compensation, you have to maneuver around those doubts.

Take the lead – don’t let candidates drive this initial conversation or jump straight to salary.  Step up and tell them that you realize in order for this to be a good opportunity you know they will expect at least a 30% non-monetary step up.  This will include more satisfying job responsibilities, duties that align with what the candidate likes to do and the potential for serious career growth.

With these conditions in mind, ask the candidate if they are available to talk for 5-10 minutes.  Most will say “Yes” and you have more time to see if you will be able to create that desired 30% non-monetary bump – the “opportunity gap” you just presented to them.

Deliver on the Opportunity Gap

Now that you have their attention, use the information you have gathered about them to direct your questions.  “What’s the most satisfying part of your job with Acme?”  “Why did you move from Job A to Job B?”  “Tell me about recent accomplishments”

The objective here is to ask discovery questions and determine whether an opportunity gap actually exists.

If you see that it does, inform the candidate of potential that comes with the job you have.  Maybe it’s managing more staff.  The job scope could be wider.  The career path may be more accelerated. The commute might be shorter.

Whatever the circumstances, the recruiter needs to demonstrate to the candidate that the position available will offer them an opportunity they would be wise to consider.

Shift the “Sell” Focus

A professional recruiter will be able to create such a persuasive opportunity gap that candidates are motivated to sell themselves.  A simple thought such as, “I’m a little concerned that the hiring team might see this role as maybe too much for you” can often be enough to shift the conversation to the candidate trying to prove themselves to the recruiter.

Once this shift happens you have opened the door to completing the interview process.

It’s Not a Wrap

A passive candidate strategy can be very fruitful but don’t expect it to work in a day.  It could take weeks or months to build a solid relationship with the candidate before they become seriously open to making a move.  You will need to be patient and willing to work on finding the right fit of candidate goals to company requirements.

This will take time.  Be clear with the candidate that you may contact them again to further understand what they are seeking in their next opportunity.  This means you will need to create a “tickler” timetable to reconnect with those candidates and to continue building a strong relationship.

Keep in mind that success comes in many forms.  If you don’t make a match right away the relationship you have built will strengthen your network and can lead to more passive candidates to call on.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 11:39 am

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