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recruiting Passive Candidates

Best Practices For Recruiting Passive Candidates

March 26, 2021

By: IQTalent

A recruiter’s job never ends. Whether it is sourcing new candidates to add to your existing talent pools, responding to candidate outreach, or nurturing a passive candidate for a potential future role, recruiters need to find ways to maintain their competitive hiring advantage. Understanding the nuances of recruiting and talent acquisition can help you better customize your passive talent approach. Overall, the majority of surveyed recruiters feel that passive candidates are better quality than active candidates. But, what is it that makes a candidate active or passive? And, how do you navigate the differences in recruiting strategy?

Below we compare and contrast active and passive candidates and offer critical insight into best practices for recruiting passive candidates.

@IQTalent says that #recruiters need to tweak their sourcing strategies for #PassiveCandidates. Check out their latest advice for attracting candidates who aren’t actively applying to new jobs:Click to Tweet

What Makes A Candidate Passive?

On a fundamental level, the difference between an active and passive candidate is simple. Active candidates are currently looking for a job and are actively applying to open positions. Alternatively, passive candidates are not in an active job hunt. Through workforce changes, companies need both. Active candidates are ready to make a career change and fill open positions, and passive candidates can be sourced and added to a candidate pipeline for future openings or actively recruited to make a change presently.. Through efficient passive candidate sourcing, you can create a database of high-quality candidates you can draw from when looking to fill an open role in your company.

Across the talent market, passive candidates make up an overwhelming majority of all candidates. Recent findings categorize 75% of candidates as passive in their job search. While these candidates are not necessarily applying to jobs now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in making a move down the road, or even now if the right opportunity comes around. Recruiters need to find ways to recruit and attract passive candidates to expand their pool of applicants.


It may seem counterintuitive to recruit individuals who are currently employed, but there are many benefits to engaging and recruiting passive candidates:

  • Their skills match your needs. Passive candidates are proven to have the skills and work ethic needed to succeed in their current role. Recruiters can save time and energy combing through unqualified candidates by engaging and recruiting top passive candidates.
  • They are honest candidates. Passive candidates are open about their skills and qualifications — after all, they are already employed, so why wouldn’t they be? Unlike applicants who are more seriously applying to jobs, passive candidates do not need to pad their resumes.
  • They are good employees. 14% of surveyed recruiters believe that passive candidates are much better than active candidates. Passive candidates got the job they have for a reason, and they’ve stuck within their role for a reason too! Passive candidates tend to be high-quality employees and add value to whatever team they join.   

How Do You Recruit and Engage Passive Candidates?

Engaging and recruiting passive candidates takes a different approach than typical recruiting strategies. Recruiters need to tweak their approach to create an enjoyable interaction that sticks with a candidate for a long time. As you analyze and engage with passive candidates, make sure to:


Research the Candidate and Track the Conversation. Before you reach out to passive candidates, you should be doing your research. What kind of candidate are you looking for? What skills are necessary for the job and culture of your team? Does this passive candidate tick off the necessary boxes? Take the time to understand your passive candidates’ experiences and determine what motivates them professionally. Then, create an outreach strategy that plays into these motivations. Once you reach out to a passive candidate, make sure to track your conversation history. What catches their attention? Are they interacting with your content? Knowing what sort of interactions are more likely to engage your passive candidates will help you adapt and personalize your recruiting strategy.



Build A Strong Recruiter Brand. Your online and social media presence needs to be strong to attract and recruit top talent. When you initially make contact with passive candidates, they are almost certain to research your company. Ensure that your online brand reinforces your company’s culture, mission, and values to make sure you are recruiting the right candidates. Some things to make sure you have are:

  • The main webpage promoting your company, what it is you do, and why you do it
  • A career page with open positions, benefits listed, and reasons why an individual would want to join your team
  • Links to your social media profiles to engage and network with candidates
What should #recruiters do differently when targeting #PassiveCandidates? @IQTalent breaks down the similarities and differences of engaging and sourcing active and passive candidates:Click to Tweet

Ditch the Long Applications. While a long-form application helps ensure applicants are genuinely interested in your position, it can be detrimental to engaging passive candidates. Individuals who currently have a job and aren’t actively looking for a new one can be easily turned off by an organization that requires them to input a lot of information. No one wants to spend time entering work history, education history, and skills for a job they aren’t actively applying for. Consider removing the need for a lengthy initial application when conversing with your passive candidates. All the information you need is most likely listed on their resume anyway. 


Look Outside the Job Boards. In today’s employment landscape, recruiters need to expand their sourcing strategies outside of job boards. 59% of recruiters say they have found high-quality candidates through social media. This showcases the potential recruiters have to engage with top-talent across a plethora of social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Quora are examples of platforms where recruiters can network with and create lists of potential passive candidates.


Tip: Don’t rush your passive candidates. The goal of engaging with passive candidates is to plant seeds for a long-term investment. If you need to fill a role immediately, it may be more efficient to stick to active candidate pools.


Tap Experts For Help

Let’s face it — sourcing and gathering information on passive candidates can be time-consuming. Recruiters don’t have time to search through every social media platform for potential candidates, and obtaining contact information and organizing your records can eat away at your day. IQTalent Xchange helps to take the burden off of recruiters by sourcing and storing these candidates for you so you can focus on strategically engaging with qualified, screened talent.

Rather than searching the internet for hidden, passive talent yourself, you can simply provide a job description, and we provide the rest! Our platform expertly vets and ranks a list of professionals that match your specific needs. We take care of the hassle of obtaining contact information, and we make sure to send this to you, so you can reach out in the strategic way that makes the most sense for you. By taking the candidate sourcing off of your hands, we can help you reduce time to fill and enable you to spend more time doing what you do best — selling your company to top talent.


Full end-to-end solution


Organizations need to prioritize sourcing and nurturing passive candidates to expand their talent pool. Finding ways to source and engage these individuals can be tricky, but with the right tools and strategies, recruiters can ensure they target and hire the best candidates regardless of if they are in an active job search. IQTX helps to alleviate the burden that recruiters face with sourcing and storing passive candidates. Our sourcing experts are standing by, ready to help you create a talent pool of highly qualified and highly skilled individuals. Reach out to our team of experts to get started on sourcing high-quality candidates today.

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