Engaging with Passive Candidates to Build a Talent Pool

5 min read

The hard-to-find talent is usually unwilling to leave their current job. But that will change one day – will you be ready when it does?

A recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report revealed some fascinating insights about passive candidates, notably:


  • For all but the critical jobs, 75% of the people you want to hire aren’t looking – they are passive candidates.
  • For critical jobs, 95% of the people you want to hire aren’t looking.


A passive candidate is someone who is currently employed and who is not actively searching for a new job opportunity. Because they are happy in their current job, passive candidates tend to be highly motivated and rich in the experience and skills that employers are looking for. Which may seem annoying, but there is some good news:


  • They are probably not talking to your competitors.
  • They are nevertheless interested in progressing their careers
  • They will probably move eventually; maybe not this year, but perhaps next year or the year after.
  • Money is not (usually) the main reason they would make a move.
  • A major reason they would move is to find more challenging work.


Why candidates move from passive to active

Very often professionals are passive candidates out of loyalty to their current employer. This can change for a number of reasons: new management or a company takeover, for example. Or a feeling of being passed over for a promotion. Alternatively, there could be personal reasons.

Very often, however, candidates are passive because they want to see a project through to a successful conclusion, or because “job hopping” looks bad on the CV. That means sooner or later they are going to get active. A digital software developer might get itchy feet after a pet project has finished. A product engineer might look for the next challenge after a successful new product launch.


If you have engaged with these individuals as passive candidates, you are more likely to attract their attention and interest when they become active.


Strategies for engaging talent

OK, so how do you grab attention and sustain it in order to build a pool of (currently passive) talent? Think of the process as a funnel. You need to get candidates into the funnel, take care of them while they are in the middle of the funnel (i.e. in your talent pool) and you need to act decisively when they are ready to leave the funnel (i.e. become active)


1. Digital “word of mouth”

Social media offer numerous opportunities to network with passive candidates. This is especially true when looking to build a talent pool of professionals in a niche discipline (for example, product engineers in the medical device sector). LinkedIn is the obvious platform of choice for social recruiting but you can also reach hard-to-find talent on Twitter, using the right hashtags, and on Facebook.


2. Content is king

Once you have started building a network of contacts it is imperative that you keep your content flowing: content that always meets (at least) one of the following criteria: it is useful, it is interesting, it is timely and it is relevant. Just reaching out for the sake of it will only earn you a reputation as a spammer. Above all, however, it must be eye-catching as professionals are bombarded with communication across all platforms (email, social media, mobile etc.) Web content must also be search engine-optimised. Identify the right keywords that will attract your target candidates and avoid off-putting clichés and vague phrases.Your content strategy must enhance your brand reputation so it is important that it should be compliant with your corporate identity and professionally written.


3. Data capture & management

Nurturing relationships with passive candidates is not a one-off; it is not even a series of touch-points, it is an evolving process in which candidates become more or less receptive to new opportunities. Therefore, you need to track their responses to your communication and rate them accordingly. Given the large numbers, ideally this should be supported by customer relationship management (CRM) software. This will help you to identify which candidates are getting active.


4. Human contact

Never forget the power of human contact, by telephone or ideally face-to-face. While social media is important, there’s nothing quite like meeting someone in person for building trust and rapport. Plan to reach out at regular intervals to the passive candidates where there is already mutual interest and respect. You should also consider attending professional events and conferences to further your network, or host your own seminars on relevant topics. Prepare for such events by reviewing the attendee list (if possible) as that will make it easier to introduce yourself and maintain a conversation.Keep a record of each contact that you make and ensure that these records are also scrupulously entered into your database/CRM system.Practice makes perfect: by engaging regularly with candidates in this way, you soon find out which ones are now active job seekers – without having to ask the question unprompted.


Talent Pooling Services

Of course, many companies would like to build their own talent pools but lack the time and resources. And other better-resourced companies may decide that it is a non-core activity. If you'd like to know more about the services M3S can offer in this area, please fill in this form and one of our experts will contact you to arrange an informal chat.

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