The challenges in the recruiting industry have evolved quite a bit over the last 18 years or so I’ve been kicking in it. But one thing that has stayed the same is the quest for passive candidates. Why is it that we all dream about those elusive passive candidates?
For recruiters, employed professionals promise a greater ROI of our time and effort.
What are the passive candidate promises?
1) Passive candidates are desirable. They are currently employed and that creates the assumption that they have the skills to be successful in their job and are an asset to their current employer. Any employer in the same industry will see them as a benefit to their organization. This perception makes them highly marketable.
2) Passive candidates are not desperate to accept the first job that comes along. They are willing to wait for the right opportunity before making any effort to change jobs. Plus, they are less likely to lie or stretch the truth about their experience and capabilities. Both situations promise a better interview and less likelihood of fall-off, a situation that is more likely with actively seeking candidates, due to jumping at a more desired opportunity after being hired or from an unqualified candidate being fired by the employer.
3) Passive candidates are looking for positive motivators for them to change, such as salary increase, career advancement, or reduced commute times, the “Big One” in large cities. Their situation contrasts greatly with active and unemployed candidates who have more stressful motivators such as making mortgage and car payments. Being in a calm state of mind, employed candidates make better final decisions that reduce the possibility of them falling off or moving on to another job before your placement guarantee.
4) Passive candidates are less likely to be interviewing with several companies and two other staffing agencies. You do not have to scramble to keep control over the situation. You can steadily walk your candidate through the process to a successful hire, creating a positive experience for everyone.
Why don’t we work more often with passive candidates?
1) Passive candidates require more effort to source while actively searching candidates are easy pickings. They are trickier to find, because they don’t have a resume on job boards, are not usually that active on social media and may not have any digital footprint to search for. They definitely will not respond to a job posting. You really have to call in the big guns when it comes to your sourcing skills.
2) We don’t even try, because it’s natural to think that passive candidates are happy with their current job and conclude it counterintuitive to go after candidates that take some extra effort to “dislodge from their current employer”. But, industry stats (LinkedIn’s global report, Talent Trends 2014) show that 45% of currently employed professionals would be interested in talking to a recruiter and aren’t necessarily actively seeking them out. They may be easier to dislodge than you think.
3) Once you find them, employed candidates can be difficult to engage. Getting them on the phone or to respond to an email is challenging. Based on timing, they could be too busy or they were just promoted, or just got a raise. They may have just started a great project and want to see it through to the end. Some are just “risk adverse” and will take extra convincing to make a move. Even if their current job is not that great, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps them there. With passive candidates, relationship building is a must, to discover what motivates them in their career and lifestyle, and then determine whether you can help them now, file them in the ‘later’ column, or scratch their name completely off your list.
How can we source passive candidates?
Cheer up, it’s not hopeless! When it comes to finding the holy grail of candidates, I find traditional sourcing techniques are required. These strategies worked great before the Internet existed, and still do. The end result is to acquire a list of names with titles, employers and phone numbers. From there it’s as easy as picking up the phone and chatting. No resume required.
The important difference between passive and active candidate sourcing is your goal. With passive candidates, you are to find a qualified employed professional who is open to discussing a new opportunity. The resume comes later. A small change in the process we are used to today, but with significantly better results because of the greater ROI.
So when you set out to recruit for another requirement, stop and think before you start that search for a resume or profile and look for a person instead. Start relationship building and grow your passive candidate pipeline.