How To Recruite A Passive Candidate

Published on 5/10/2012 by Jimmy Hurff

Categories: Recruiting Software Blog

Tags: applicantscandidatecandidatescareercareersemployeeemployeesemployersemploymenthiringinterviewinterviewingjobjobsjob seekerpassive candidaterecruitersourcingstaffingtalenttalent acquisition

By: Mary Catania

Some of the most appealing job candidates already have jobs. So, how do you deal with this conundrum and entice an employee to quite a stable and secure position to start a brand-new career at an unfamiliar company? Passive candidates are a different breed; they are not as eager to say "yes" as active candidates who are unemployed and need the job now. According to a recent survey conducted by, 83% of fully employed people classify themselves as passive candidates. Below is advice on how to tap into this large pool of passive, but highly potential, employees:

1) Make sure you know the perks of switching jobs.
The best candidates are going to ask you a lot of questions about the company and position, so make sure you know all of the job benefits up-front. It's not enough to list out the job description and responsibilities. Be really ready to "sell" the position and why it's a better opportunity over the person's current job. What kind of impact can the person make on the company as a whole? Also be ready to overcome rebuttals by knowing the challenges and fears a candidate may possess about beginning a new job. Also, to hook the candidate, ask questions that will only get a positive response from them, such as: "Would you consider a new position that offered you more flexibility with your schedule?"

2) Be prepared to sell the company culture.

Some candidates will agree on a reasonable salary if they know there is great opportunity for advancement. Will the candidate be able to move up the corporate ladder quickly if they prove themselves? Will they have high-level exposure to executives? Describe the company culture, is it familial or impersonal? Friendly or corporate? Laid back or strict? Are their potential coworkers long-term employees or is there high turnover? Be prepared to answer these questions open and honestly.

3) Make sure you know what the hiring manager is willing to offer.
Establishing a working relationship with the hiring manager will get the right candidate in the seat a lot faster. Is the boss willing to offer a higher salary if the candidate is the perfect fit? Will they allow the person to work from home? Do they provide meal or transportation compensation? Day care? Find out what is important to the passive candidate's lifestyle and highlight it as a bonus to the position. Some companies even offer discounts on pet insurance. What is their 401k package? What type of health insurance do they provide? These benefits can be equally as important to a candidate as salary. Know your candidate inside and out.

4) Make sure the job is really a step forward, not a regression. Examine the current level of the passive candidate and evaluate whether this is a step forward in their career or a step back. Is this a more senior level position? Or perhaps a new industry that the candidate wants to break into? In this instance, the candidate may be willing to make a more lateral or even regressive move if they lack the industry experience, but want the new position.

5) Be persistent without being a pest.

A career change is a critical and life-changing decision that is not easily made on a whim. Candidates may not call you back right away or return your emails, either because they are busy or need to think about their next career move. Make sure you follow up with them frequently, but not annoyingly. Entice them by not revealing everything about the position up front. Also, keep the emails and voicemails friendly, but very professional. Be patient and set a realistic timeframe for filling this position. Some job placement processes can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Good luck!

About the Author, Jimmy Hurff

Jimmy is a seasoned technology executive & entrepreneur noted for leading business transformations. Over his 25+ year career, Jimmy has developed multi-platform expertise in the domains of engineering, data analytics, security, compliance & business transformation. Starting in 1995, Jimmy worked with his best friend, David Webb, to develop one of the world's first Internet job board and resume bank applications. From then to now, Jimmy has been consistently helping his customers to build great teams, using best practices and world-class technology.

Try It Now

Make a BrightMove: Sign up for a free applicant tracking system trial

Start Now