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Recruitment Strategy   | 3 Min Read

Slow Dance While Hiring The Passive Candidate

Written By mettl
In the world of recruiters, a passive candidate appears almost mystical, the metaphorical unicorn or sphinx of job seekers. What makes these elusive creatures so fascinating to the recruiter? Is it the fun of pursuit, the trial by fire?

Or are these the reasons that nudge recruiters to turn towards the more easily accessible demographic – the active job seekers? In doing so, dear recruiter, you may be losing out by closing your eyes to the colossal figure of 79% of passive job-seekers!

By simple definition, desirable passive candidates are the ones who are not inclined to moving from their current jobs but may be interested, if the ‘right’ job comes along. It could also be that they are probably unemployed, willing to explore, but haven’t made an effort to search for a job themselves or haven’t found one that interests them. 

The candidates who are currently employed may be more difficult to source and attract, but they also make a great pool of potential hires. Ok, maybe not all 79% of them; however, according to a 2011 LinkedIn study, passive candidates are:

  • 120% more likely to want to make an impression
  • 56% more likely to want a corporate culture that fits their personality
  • 33% more likely to want challenging work
  • Less needy, 17% less likely to need skill development and 21% less likely to need recognition

Despite this, getting passive candidates interested in your organization and the job often requires the use of every skill set of even your sharpest and most eloquent human resource person.

What you get from a passive candidate is the advantage of not interviewing elsewhere since they are not looking for a new job. What you don’t get is – an updated resume, since the candidate is not out looking for a job. It’s up to you to use ingenuity and offer an alternative way to let them share their background and experiences.  Convey how you found them and what interested you enough to reach out to them. While there ia a myriad of social networking tools available today, to use them for fabricating a robust plan to engage and interest passive candidates is an art that requires skill, tenacity, and fortitude. Move steadily, interpret their moves, and make sure they are leading and following! Dance slowly but elegantly.

Today’s employers are better placed to source and recruit these ‘elusive unicorns’

Be cautious to start with, especially if you are gauche in this manner of dancing. Your first clue to knowing if you are doing it right will be if your unenthusiastic ‘partner’ begins to show signs of being inclined and trying to convince you that he or she meets the requirements.  You see this slow dancing is not about you selling a brilliant job, but them selling you on why you should have them for it and no one else!

Here are some ways to master your Hiring:

1. It’s a career move, not a job

The reason you are eyeing a passive candidate is that they have skills or qualities that stood out over the average candidate. However, it is most likely that a passive candidate is either disinterested or hesitant to talk at the outset, and as a result, is going to be turned away by your traditional job description that is crawling with skills requirements. As a career move, it should highlight some key performance indicators and at least one high impact of the role in the form of a major challenge. Emphasize the ‘what’s in it for me’ value proposition for the prospective employee – the high importance of the role and the impetus it would give to the person hired.

2. Analyze the profile to see what the candidate would view as better

For your job to be seen as a career move, you would need to include some factors that are probably missing in the person’s current job but would certainly be a career need. Enlist at least one phenomenal job objective that ties in with being indispensable to your company’s goals and mission. Leading a bigger team, an important role in plum projects, learning new skills are all examples of what these factors could be, and that would take the person from no to the magic yes.

3. Identify and point out the unrealized sore points

The passive candidate must be able to instantly relate to the job you are offering once you show them their compensation potential, use of latest technology in the company and other such information that you can clearly see as missing in his / her current job.  The passive candidate is probably passive because they probably don’t realize the pains until you can show them something way better in the offer you have.

 4. ‘The push-away move’ to make the candidate convince you

Express now, your plausible concerns about some of the tasks that they are doing or not, which is sure to make them even more eager to know and engage with you. As an example, you could point out that they have never really been a key player in a strategic company endeavor but that you would still like to know what their most significant contribution to management affairs been. Point out that you would just like to ascertain if it would be a fit or would over-extend the individuals’ capabilities. This is a sure shot move to get the candidate to be forthcoming and sell you on why they are qualified for the job and would be the best fit.

5. Getting to ‘yes’

This is a very important dance move – it’s how you entice the candidate with the details of benefits and high points of the job.  When a passive candidate feels that a senior person is leading this search, he or she is more likely to react positively rather than if you had a consultant do the work. Make the offer when you believe the candidate is fully convinced of the possibilities in the role and is as excited to join, as you are to extend an offer.

6. Moving on

If despite your best and most concerted efforts, the person still refuses, use your networking skills and ask the person to give you a few good references for people who could probably fit the job.  This saves time for you to start the process from the beginning and also keep this person within your networking system. Also, always keep in touch – while the passive candidate may not be available today, but whenever they are, you should be the first contact they reach out to. Remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint and while most of the hiring is need-based, in young companies, you should always be open to get the good guys in.

Today’s employers are better placed to source and recruit these ‘elusive unicorns’ given that they have social media and varied technologies at their disposal. Getting to these persons is now a cake-walk or as we have said – as fluid and lucid as the movement of a slow dance!

Topics: Recruitment Strategy

Originally published May 09 2019,updated June 29 2019

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