Why You Have to be Active to Attract Passive Candidates

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HR Practices

On paper, hiring is a simple challenge: how do you get the best candidates?

Of course, once you’ve been trying to do that for a while you realize it’s a little more complicated than that. With every position, you get a flood of generic resumes that don’t really seem promising at all. Sometimes it seems like no one on Earth bothers to read the job description before sending in an application!

But you know the right candidates are out there somewhere. Where?

They’re already working for somebody else. They’re not actively looking for a new position, so we call these people passive candidates. These people are high-performers who are excellent at what they do. They’re just not actively looking for a new position, so you have to go out of your way to find them.

You already know it’s worth it because they’re already effectively doing jobs similar to the position you’re hiring for. But why aren’t they already banging on your door? 

  1. Passive Candidates Won’t Come to You

The basic fact about passive candidates is that they’re just that: passive. They’re not out there looking for a new job. They’re not sending out applications every day. They’re not clogging your hiring team’s inbox with resumes.

Instead, they’re working away at their current position. Sure, they might be open to a new job if one came around, but it’s not their top priority. They’re secure in their positions, they’re good at what they do, and they know they’d have an easy time finding a new position if they ever needed one.

So the first problem with attracting passive candidates is finding them in the first place. This usually means having a network built up that identifies potential passive candidates and the kinds of positions they might be interested in.

Remember: these are the best candidates out there. The ones who can make the biggest difference in your business. But they won’t come to you. You have to find them.

  1. Passive Candidates are Happy Where They Are

Remember how I said that passive candidates aren’t actively looking for new positions? Well, that means a lot of them are pretty comfortable where they are. They may hesitate to change jobs, even for a good opportunity, just because they don’t want the hassle that comes from going somewhere new.

Now, what does all this mean for you and your organization? It means that if you want to win over passive candidates (the best candidates), it’s not enough to make an offer. Passive candidates can afford to be selective, which means if you’re going to hire them for a position you’re going to have to sell them on it.

That means understanding what these candidates value. It means knowing what sets your organization apart from an employee’s perspective. It means knowing what these candidates really want and what it will take to get them to leave their current position for the next step in their career.

In other words, it’s not easy.

  1. You Probably Don’t Have the Resources to Attract Passive Candidates Internally

So: these passive candidates are not only hard to find, but they’re also hard to bring in once you manage to find them. Your hiring team is already busy enough working on other positions. How on Earth are you supposed to hire these people?

The simple fact is that most organizations don’t have the time, resources, or network to go after passive candidates effectively. So if you’re going to win these candidates over, you’ll need to partner with an organization that specializes in helping you do that.

So: How Do You Attract Passive Candidates?

If you want to win over the best candidates, you’ll need someone with the network and experience in winning passive candidates over to new positions. This is the kind of thing executive recruiters work on every day.

Executive recruiters are different from your standard recruiting agency. They get to know your business and the position you’re hiring for in-depth. They get to know what you’re looking for in a candidate. And the best of them already have a network of passive candidates who may be perfect for your position.

Sure, you don’t necessarily need to work with an executive recruiter for every position. Your own hiring team or a contingency recruiting agency might be more than enough for some hires. But for the really crucial hires that define your organization, consider reaching out to an executive recruiter.

About the Author

Jeffrey Audette is the President of VMG Recruiting.

With over 25 years of experience in recruiting, Jeff has partnered with small, medium, and Fortune 500 firms, helping them to find the talent they need.

You can learn more at VMGT.com or contact Jeff at jeff@vmgt.com. 

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