5 Best Practices for Sourcing Passive Candidates

5 Best Practices for Sourcing Passive Candidates
Research showed that only 15.2% of respondents are actively looking for a job.

So, what’s with the 84.8%? Such candidates, those who aren’t actively looking for a new job opportunity, are called passive candidates.

To get back to our question, some of that 84.8% are content with where they are and want to keep things the same (26.2%), but that leaves a whopping 58.7% of those who aren’t actively searching but are open to new opportunities. But for a “price”, of course, but we’ll get to it.

Obviously, such a huge source isn’t something to disregard and can be a potent source of hire.

But how do you find people who don’t know you are looking for them and aren’t visibly trying to be found?

Know Your Company Inside and Out

But before setting up a search for passive candidates, it’s important to make sure you know your own company. While active candidates are driven by the desire to land a job and might overlook some details in the representation of your company, passive candidates have no reason to look at your company with rose-colored glasses.

Sincerity is a must - what you present outward needs to correlate with the actual state of things within your company. The services you offer, tech stack, and projects are important but not everything people want to know.

Consider your company culture, values, what makes you stand out from others, and your management’s leading style. What do your employees actually love the most about working at your company? You probably have set up some of these elements, but for some other details, you might need to talk to your employees to get a more realistic picture.

Only when you know your company through and through can you set out to look for passive candidates.

Start Looking at the Right Place

It’s vital to make your company visible on platforms on which passive candidates spend time. LinkedIn is the obvious answer; it gathers 930 million people, but is it the only one?

Of course not. You are looking for community-based platforms where the candidates, such as software developers, interact - exchange experiences, knowledge, and information. However, those platforms function quite differently than LinkedIn, so you need to learn a bit more about how they function to know how to behave.

Reddit has numerous subreddits that function like topic-driven forums. Topics are extremely versatile, but many subreddits gather tech audiences who are actively looking for a job or just want to stay up-to-date with the job market. As it has around 52 million active users daily, Reddit is well worth looking into - for example, check out r/forhire.

As they describe themselves, Stack Overflow is the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share​ their programming ​knowledge, and build their careers. From full-stack developers to DevOps specialists, this community is respected, so their “Companies” section is trusted.

You’ll have the opportunity to show your tech stack, employer brand, company culture, and job openings to the developer community. The community members can also track updates about the companies they are interested in, so making your company visible on Open Overflow's website can only be a good idea.

The idea of developers as withdrawn and anti-social is grocery exaggerated, so networking events, such as conferences, are also a good place to present your company. If you decide to get a booth, make sure to use it to the maximum to display all your company does. Also, ensure some of the other employees go to the event with you as an HR specialist so that people who visit the conferences can feel they get a more realistic perspective about how it is to work in your company.

Leverage Employee Referral Programs

Have you ever thought about looking for passive candidates internally? Not literally on your premises, of course, but your employees may have friends, relatives, and acquaintances to recommend people they think would fit the company’s vision and team spirit.

Naturally, some of them will be candidates who are actively looking for a job but make sure you explain to your employees that you would love to get acquainted with all experts whom they feel could be a great contribution to your company, regardless of their employment status.

If you don’t have an employee referral program and your employees might be reluctant to recommend others, here you can find some ideas on how to encourage them to share those well-hidden gems of experts with you.

Personalize the Outreach

You have to start off with a presumption that the person you want to contact hasn’t heard of your company. As mentioned above, you need to know your company inside out in order to be able to convey what you truly stand for and offer. But another important factor when approaching a passive candidate is that they are not pressed for time - they will have time to mull things over and to dissect your offer and things you say.

If you reach out with a generic message, they will probably not give much thought to your offer. And why should they? If you haven’t put any effort into the outreach, why would they put their effort into exploring your company and considering your interview invite?

It’s always good to find common ground with the candidates, something you noticed they posted, or something in their professional experience. Think about why you are reaching out to this particular person. Your approach will differ depending on the platform through which you are reaching out, but keep in mind that since you don’t have the same information, it’s also important not to sound fake. Just as you need to ‘live’ your company's values, you also shouldn’t feign to have the same interests as the candidate. For example, most people don’t like being contacted with “Hey, I see you have a Rolling Stones T-shirt - they are a cool band! Listen, would you like to work for my company?”

Build a Relationship

As mentioned earlier, time is not of the essence for passive candidates - the first time you reach out may not be a good time for that person; you may pique their interest, but some private reasons may prevent them from considering the transition in detail. On the other hand, it may not be good timing for your company - you have your eye on an amazing candidate, but you know that the current staffing needs are reduced.

So what do you do in such situations? You build a relationship with them. You stay in touch, check on them, and keep them updated so that when the time is right for both parties, it’s easier for the candidate to make a transition, and then onboarding runs smoother. This is all good for you because you are adding them to your talent pool, and then at some point in the future, they will be included in the recruitment pipeline and perhaps come work for your company.

So, How to Lasso a Passive Candidate?

“Catching” a passive candidate demands a long-term strategy and dedication. There are a lot of factors that affect this strategy, timing, and outreach being one of the most important ones. Naturally, constantly assessing your current and projected staffing needs is a must because those needs can change drastically during the whole process.

Sometimes engaging with a passive candidate can seem more time-consuming than with one that is actively looking for a job. However, it’s well worth the effort because the top-notch seasoned talent, as well as those with great potential, will certainly contribute to your company’s business and success.