How to Attract Passive Job Candidates, a Manager’s Guide

The perfect candidate for that hard to fill opening may be waiting for you beyond the stack of resumes sitting in your inbox. There are plenty of highly skilled workers who aren’t actively seeking a new opportunity, but may consider one if the right fit came along.

A passive candidate can quickly become active if the right opportunity presented itself. The key is how to identify and attract the passive candidate and what best practices you can use to woo passive candidates to your organization.

Network. Network. Network.

Just about everybody finds their jobs via networking. A recent survey revealed that all passive candidates find their jobs this way and over 50% of active candidates do as well.

So the old school way of leaning more heavily on one type of recruitment tool, like job postings is no longer effective. Expand your methods to include a healthy mix of online and face-to-face interaction with top-notch professionals in your industry. For example, a great place to start is by searching the many groups and posts within LinkedIn groups. You’ll most likely discover that many passive candidates are members of one or more LinkedIn groups that are relevant to their field and skill set. Posting messages about job opportunities in the relevant group you are seeking talent for is a great way to target passive candidates and start a conversation.

Have you given us a call? Consider working with a staffing firm. Recruiters often have access to talent you might not otherwise come across. Here at ICON Staffing Network, we have been a leader in recruitment for more than a decade. We have a refined world-wide network of professional talent looking for the right opportunity. Allow us to help you expand your talent pool.

Go where the professionals you want to recruit routinely network. Professional associations are often where talent go looking to network with other like-minded professionals, learn, and discuss industry issues and trends. Have a presence at industry conferences as well as online. Engage with commenters on your company blog, chat regularly with members of a LinkedIn group, and distribute a monthly newsletter. The more people know your company from conferences, associations, web content or however you get the word out about your business the more likely talent will respond when you reach out to them.

Slow Dance – Make Sure you Are Leading as Much as Following

Building relationships is at the heart of our company core values. Trust us, it works. This takes time to develop but the time and effort put in will pay off in the long run. Since a passive candidate isn’t actively on the job hunt, they might need to be warmed up to the idea of a new opportunity before given the hard sell or offered an interview. Have a conversation not a sales pitch. Be patient and build the relationship before making a sales pitch approach. If you do make an offer and get a definitive “no,” consider asking for recommendations of others who might be interested. If nothing else, you’ll expand your network.

Know What to Sell and How to Sell It

When a passive candidate is ready to consider joining your team, consider these to keep their curiosity piqued:

  • Job Branding. A recent LinkedIn survey based on one of the largest behavioral and survey studies of job changers in the world – 7 million LinkedIn members and 10 thousand survey takers revealed that job branding is more important than employer branding when it came to passive candidates. People’s biggest obstacle to changing jobs is not knowing what it’s really like to work somewhere. You have the power to fix that by ramping up your recruitment marketing and showcasing your employer branding. People want to know that they are going to make an impact. In this case the job content is more important than the employer name. Emphasis the work itself and why it’s important, not the skills needed to do the work.
  • Work/Life Balance. What sort of incentives can you offer to improve their work/life balance? Find out if their current work/life balance is meeting their needs. If you can offer more flexible hours or telecommuting as part of the package that might be enough to motivate a passive candidate.
  • Career Opportunities: It’s not always about money. People want career growth. To attract the best candidates offer them career opportunities, not jobs. Having a competitive salary certainly can’t hurt.
  • Small is the New Big. In every part of the world, people are flocking to smaller organizations. Attract and recruit entrepreneurially-minded professionals by appealing to what attracts people to small organizations.


What tips do you have for recruiting passive candidates? Has your strategy changed over the years? Share your thoughts in the comments below.