Maximizing Your Reach: 10 Tactics for Finding Quality Passives Candidates


Did you know that 1 in 72 passive candidates are hired, as opposed to 1 in 152 active applicants?  Passive candidates are often stronger and smarter hires since they have already exhibited the skills and know-how in their current roles. The struggle, however, is in finding the right ways to identify and engage with these working professionals.

This blog sheds some light on 5 sure-fire strategies for sourcing passive candidates, plus some classic ideas that have made sourcers and recruiters successful in getting passive candidates interested in their open roles…for decades.

Social Media Sourcing is Still Massive

If you aren’t staying active on social media sites and posting frequently, it’ll be tough to grow your network and engage with passive candidates. Social media is, frankly, the first foot forward when it comes to making people aware of your brand and opportunities.

Checking the social media channels of the company you are interested in working for has become the new window shopping. Providing prospective employees with a curated insider’s view of what it’s like to work with you undoubtedly can set you apart from the competition that doesn’t pay enough attention to their social presence.

Sourcing #PassiveCandidates can be tricky, but with these 5 sure-fire strategies, you can engage and win over top talent: via @Visage_Jobs Click To Tweet

Considering 78% of recruiters expect the use of social media for finding candidates will increase, not considering social media presence could harm your ability to attract passive candidates. Having a frequent but not overwhelming posting cadence provides context about your workplace culture, informs followers about your vision, and confirms that your organization prioritizes keeping its community up to date.

Old School Trick: Call and Email

Gasp! In an age of social media, AI, and just about everything the Jetson’s had on offer (except flying cars…), calling and emailing may seem like the last thing to do in order to stand out. But you know what? It works!

Email is still by FAR the best marketing channel for many B2B sales, so it stands to reason that it works pretty well when you’re trying to get in touch with people who are already employed. You just need a couple of small tweaks to make this old-school method fresh for today’s passive candidates.

Switch the order. Before, recruiters would call first, then follow up with an email. However, with passive candidates (or even active ones), this is now seen as a bit rude. Instead, start with an email (grab some info gleaned from their social profiles to make it human) and then mention you’ll text them the details. Don’t text them the apply link.

Do the leg work. Why don’t we text the apply link? Well, it’s kind of lazy. For a great, in-demand passive candidate, you need to be different. And let me tell you. They’ve been approached by people who have wasted their time endlessly. How are you going to stand out? By being the one hiring professional who doesn’t ask for a resume, an application, a pre-screen, a salary range, and then decide it’s not a match. Instead, confirm the information you have from their social media profiles and any resume you have access to and give the salary upfront.

Ramp expectations. What are they going to get from you if they give you 15 minutes of their time on the phone? At the most, an incredible new career opportunity and a relationship within the company. But at worst, you can help them get their resume up to date or give them a little tip on their LinkedIn profile “for when they are ready to make a move.”

Relevant Still: Emphasize Company Culture & Growth Potential

Today’s job seekers have more power than ever before. There’s a surplus of open positions and a shortage of talent available. Workers can be pickier about who they work for and look for specific things from their employers. Two factors that are highly important to today’s candidates are a healthy, strong workplace culture and bountiful growth opportunities.

No one wants to work in a negative environment. So, ensuring your workplace culture offers strong work/life balance and priorities, diversity, and respect is critical if you hope to attract and persuade a passive candidate to move to your organization.

Passive candidates, just like any candidate, also crave professional development and growth. Before sourcing candidates, be sure you have a strong development program in place. There are some great benefits to creating paths for growth.

Employees that undergo professional development are:

  • 15% more engaged
  • 34% more likely to stay within their role

The numbers make it clear — professional development matters, especially if you want to recruit and attract passive talent.

Old School Trick: Show them THEIR Journey

Emphasizing company growth is great, but helping candidates to envision themselves in your company, working on important projects, alongside amazing people, with endless opportunities to grow their career and learn. That’s something that’s music to candidates’ ears, especially right now. A Leadership IQ study discovered that only 35% of employees say that they’re always learning something new at work.

“Saying ‘we provide career growth’ pales in comparison to telling candidates, ‘each quarter, you’ll have an hour-long goal-setting meeting with your manager during which you’ll select mentoring and training opportunities for the next few months to best help you achieve your career goals.’”

Mark Murphy, Leadership IQ

While every company has different offerings, there are certainly things you can draw from in the list below. Try these categories for more specific ways to promote your company’s approach to individual career development.

Focus on coaching and feedback:

  • Our company offers regular coaching and feedback sessions with managers to ensure each employee is growing and moving forward in their career.
  • We offer performance reviews twice a year that incorporate feedback from colleagues, clients, and supervisors in order to help our staff members maximize their potential.
  • Our performance review system tracks employee growth over time, allowing us to recognize their achievements as well as identify areas for improvement.
  • We provide quarterly reviews and goal-setting sessions to ensure our team members are on track to reach their highest potential.
  • Our managers are committed to engaging in monthly conversations with their employees, so they can get regular feedback about their performance and areas for improvement.

Explore formal education or certifications:

  • Through our tuition reimbursement program, we offer employees the opportunity to learn new skills and gain knowledge that will help them in their current and future roles.
  • Our employees have access to educational resources, such as online courses and seminars, to help them stay up to date on industry trends and hone their professional skills.
  • Our tuition reimbursement program encourages employees to pursue additional education and gain new skills.
  • Our organization offers course reimbursement for further education and certifications that are relevant to the employee’s growth path within the company.

Showcase professional development opportunities:

  • Our professional development workshops equip employees with the necessary tools they need to grow and progress within the organization.
  • Our professional development workshops equip employees with the necessary tools they need to grow and progress within the organization.
  • We have an extensive professional development program available to help employees build skills and gain experience in their chosen field of work.
  • We also have a number of activities designed to foster collaboration between departments and teams, such as hackathons, team-building events, and social gatherings.

Zero in on mentorship and collaboration unique to your organization:

  • We offer mentoring opportunities with senior leadership in the organization to help employees develop their skills and advance their careers.
  • Our company offers a robust mentorship program, with experienced professionals and industry leaders available to coach and guide our employees through their career paths, helping them meet their long-term goals.
  • We provide career mapping sessions with managers every quarter to make sure our employees are on track for career advancement.

Show tangible ways the company offers those who want to advance in their careers:

  • Employees are given the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and lead projects that allow them to showcase their strengths and demonstrate leadership skills.
  • We have an internal job board that allows our team members to explore different roles within the company without going through the external recruitment process.
  • We create a consistent learning environment where all team members have access to the latest developments in their field and receive constant support from our management team towards improving themselves professionally.

Never Stop Working on Employer Brand

With today’s tools and technologies, job seekers and passive candidates can research and read up on your company well before they ever engage with your job postings or hiring managers. But, if you need more convincing, 75% of candidates are more likely to apply for a position with a company that actively manages its employer brand.

To establish a strong employer brand, your organization needs to look internally at your mission, values, and where priorities lie. This is the core of your business and should be communicated via external messaging and internal communications.

Answer questions like:

  • What makes your organization different than your competitors?
  • What makes you stronger?
  • What do you do differently, and what makes it notable?

These questions can guide your employer branding strategy and give you insight into what exactly speaks to your target audience.

Tight talent market continues. It’s time to start building out a strategy for sourcing passive candidates: via @Visage_Jobs Click To Tweet

Old School Trick: Employee-Generated Content!

One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is the increased desire for IMperfect content. No one wants super expensive, slick ads (except at the Super Bowl) anymore. Instead, invite employees to write blurbs on company values, make a Day in the Life video of their work, show off their favorite (silly) benefit of working there (free unlimited granola bars), or do a 10 Questions With type article, video or podcast with various workers in the organization.

We all have the access to make quick, fun videos or content, right in our pockets, so you can even personalize this to a particularly stellar candidate. Show them the team they’ll be working with, the donuts they’ll get to eat, and the volleyball league your firm has on Wednesday nights. It’s all part of helping them SEE themselves in the role.

Employee-Generated Content Ideas:

  • Ask employees to write a blog post about the company culture and how their job fits in with it.
  • Have employees record a video of their office space, talking about why they love working there and any unique features that make it special.
  • Ask employees to take pictures of themselves doing something fun or exciting related to the company, such as attending an event or using a new product/service.
  • Invite employees to create a podcast series discussing different topics related to the company, such as customer success stories, tips for success in the field, or interviews with key figures in the industry.
  • Encourage employees to write mini-profiles on various colleagues that highlight their talents and unique perspectives on the job.
  • Have current employees showcase any innovative technology they’re using within the organization and discuss how it has improved their workflows and productivity levels.
  • Ask employees to describe one accomplishment that they are most proud of achieving since joining the company, as well as how they leveraged their skillset to make it happen.
  • Request that workers submit short testimonials explaining why they chose this organization over others when seeking employment opportunities and what sets it apart from its competitors in terms of values and benefits offered by employers.
  • Create videos highlighting unique benefits like flexible work schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and interesting perks such as a monthly delivery of snacks or free gym memberships.
  • Feature photos of modern office spaces, including comfortable workspaces, recreational areas, and eye-catching artwork on the walls.
  • Record interviews with current employees discussing their favorite aspects of working with the organization, such as job satisfaction, growth opportunities, and professional development courses available to them.

Always Important: Create a Stellar Candidate Experience

Passive candidates need to have a good reason to leave their current job. When your hiring process creates a poor candidate experience, that can be enough to dissuade someone from making the jump.

Whether active or passive, all candidates want to feel like they have a personalized experience and strong relationship with their recruiters. The experience you provide candidates should make them see the benefit of taking the leap and making a change in employers. Having a robust and positive candidate experience can also help ease any tension or anxieties passive candidates may have about leaving their current job.

Added Tip: People who have a great candidate experience are more likely to share their experiences with others. Investing your time and efforts into building out a strong, positive hiring experience can pay off greatly in the long run.

Old School Trick: Audit Your Career Site Experience

Recruiters should audit their applicant experience to attract passive candidates because a positive experience can be one of the biggest factors in swaying them from staying at their current job. A good candidate experience shows passive candidates that switching to a new employer could be beneficial for them. It also helps build trust between the recruiter and the candidate, which is an important factor for passive job seekers.

When recruiters invest time and effort into creating a great experience for applicants, they show passive candidates that they are serious about offering them a great job opportunity. Additionally, providing a great applicant experience can make potential passive candidates more comfortable with making the jump, since they know they’ll be respected and treated well during the hiring process. Investing in a strong candidate experience will help increase the likelihood of successful hires from passive job seekers.

Audit your application process:

Are you clearly communicating the steps in the application process?

Do you have a system in place to track and follow up with candidates?

Do you collect feedback from candidates at each stage of the process?

Career site:

Is your career site mobile-friendly and easy to navigate?

Do you provide clear and concise job descriptions?

Is there a way for candidates to easily apply for jobs on your site?

Candidate experience:

Do you proactively reach out to candidates after they’ve applied?

Do you provide timely updates and feedback throughout the process?

Do you make an effort to get to know each candidate on a personal level?

Candidates should be able to quickly and easily find key information on job postings, benefits, and company culture. Additionally, recruiters should consider adding a section dedicated to discussing why a current employee would make a great addition to the team. This could include outlining the potential career growth opportunities as well as any unique benefits for passive candidates. Having an organized, up-to-date career site will make it easier for passive candidates to evaluate whether or not making a change is in their best interest.

Implement a Referral Program

Finding talent is tough. And what’s worse is spending the time and money recruiting a new hire, just for them to discover it is not the right fit soon after. One way to avoid this is by relying on your current employees for help with filling open positions.

A strong employee referral program can help you discover talent you’d never have found otherwise. What’s even better is that the referrals you receive are ones you can trust to be quality candidates. After all, your existing employees know the culture and what it takes to succeed in the role. They’re not likely to recommend someone who isn’t experienced enough or up to the challenge.

As you build out your employee referral program, keep the following in mind:

  • Make your employees feel appreciated for their referrals — employees like being appreciated, and when it comes to referrals, you should celebrate them when they’re given. It doesn’t have to be much. Just show your team that you’re thankful for their help finding a quality candidate.
  • Keep the candidate and employee updated on the referral process — transparency in the hiring process is critical for a positive experience. Let your employee who made the referral know how the process is going, and keep your referral in the loop as well!
  • Be sure to reward engagement, not results — rewarding employees for referrals should occur immediately, even if the reward is small. The best referral programs are built around rewarding and encouraging referrals rather than rewarding a successful hire. Frequent rewards and recognition go a long way in keeping your team engaged with the process.

Old School: Referrals that Work

Using referrals to boost your hiring pool is nothing new. But did you know you don’t have to get buy-in from the entire executive team to make your referral concepts successful? Have a quick meet n greet with the engineering team at a local pub and ask them to bring a friend. Offer a sweet treat (full-size candy bar starts feeling some kinda way at around 2:30 in the afternoon) if folks come to your office to talk through a referral. Create excitement around new roles by accessing the company intranet, employee communications, and in-office watering holes to get some attention on the roles you have the toughest time filling (and those that aren’t so tough.) The referral fee is a small price to pay for employees that are more engaged, go through the process more quickly, and are proven to stay in their roles longer.

Try out some different strategies and approaches for encouraging and rewarding referrals in your organization. There is no “one size fits all” approach; each organization is unique in its structure and operations. Talk with your team to discover what they want out of a referral program, and work together on building out your strategy today.

Sourcing and recruiting passive candidates can help you fill positions quickly with quality hires. In today’s tight hiring market, passive candidates also significantly extend your network and talent pool. Finding and engaging passive candidates can be tricky, but you can secure high-quality talent and create a wider professional network with the right tools and strategies in place. Reach out to us to see how Visage can help you connect with and secure passive candidates.