Passive Candidates

Seeking out passive candidates – people who are not actively in the job market – takes more skill, time and effort than traditional staffing recruiting. Unfortunately staffing departments are typically not set up to do this kind of work, and many line managers do not understand their role in attracting passive candidates.

An executive’s success depends on the quality of the people he or she hires. While the typical hiring process usually works smoothly, hiring managers are right to wonder if the most talented professionals are really not sitting at home reading job ads, but currently out in the workforce. Indeed, more and more of the most successful executives have developed the ability to seek passive candidates for critical or hard-to-fill jobs.

Recruiting passive candidates is a longer term investment of time. Since they are not actively seeking opportunities, they tend to be relatively happy in their jobs and need time to build a sense of comfort with you. Establishing contact and keeping in touch with prospects is a very deliberate process. Regular outreach is required to maintain contact with each person. The goal being, we want to be the prospect’s first thought when they begin to entertain thoughts about a new job.

Traditional methods will get you average people. Let’s be realistic: if you want the top 10%, you need to do something different. Overall, recruiting has to be a process that the whole company takes seriously. Which begs the question, how do you build a culture where everyone is constantly brainstorming ways to get the best talent. What the executive suite needs to know about recruitment is that an aggressive approach delivers passive recruits.

RJI attends conferences, develops membership lists, performs deep web searches, and studies our client’s competitors. We develop lists of prospects and make contact with them regularly to naturally forge relationships – an on-going process of developing a talent pipeline, rather than a reactive mode only when a vacancy occurs.

Most executives do not understand that simply urging recruiters to be more aggressive is not enough. Those same executives play a crucial role in each stage of finding and attracting passive candidates. The recruiter’s nightmare? After enticing a fantastic passive candidate to an interview, the hiring manager opens with “Why do you want to work here?” or “What makes you think you’re good enough to work here?”  When it comes to passive candidates, the hiring manager should be in the sales business, not the purchasing business.

Selling a job means coming up with a good value proposition. Hiring managers need to recognize the kind of work that appeals to top performers. It’s not enough to assure candidates that it’s a great company with great opportunities. You need to be specific. Strong candidates are not interested in lateral moves. Hiring managers have to look for capability and potential, not just qualifications. Otherwise passive recruiting simply won’t work.

RJI helps clients learn how to attract, deploy, develop, reward and retain top talent in support of their business strategies. Consider a talent management firm where a passion for people and a focus on growth for our clients are variables of everyday life.