Expert Tips For Engaging Passive Candidates

Magnet attracting candidates

Passive candidates are like the average cat: they’re easy to find, but they’re probably not interested in you.

Engaging a passive candidate and holding their attention throughout the hiring journey is undeniably tough. However, even though 86% of the most qualified candidates for your open positions are already employed, this doesn’t mean they won’t consider a well-crafted opportunity.

With the right approach and attention-grabbing tactics, you can easily engage passive candidates and fill every position with the best talent. Here’s how.

1. Email to convince, not hire

What’s the purpose of reaching out to a passive candidate? Well, to ask them to apply for a new job, of course.


Yes, 73% of candidates are open to switching jobs, but that doesn’t mean your first email should go straight for the jugular. Your purpose with the first message is to simply open up the possibility of making a switch. You want to plant the seed, not ask them for fruit.

Passive candidates go through a careful decision-making process before seriously considering your proposition. If you rush straight to the final stage like a hungry salesperson, the only decision your candidate will make will be a resounding ‘Nah’.

Here’s how a typical decision-making funnel goes:

  1. They receive your first email and realise a new and improved job exists.
  2. This triggers the ‘research stage’, where they dig around online for more information on your company (like reviews, blogs, social media, etc.).
  3. Inevitably, they’ll check similar companies to see what the same job entails.
  4. Finally, it’s time to make a decision. If no red flags come up during the first three stages, then they’ll likely be interested in pursuing the opportunity.

At this point, you may have twigged that that much of your success hinges on stage #2. We’ll get to that on the next tip. If you’re more concerned about writing an email that doesn’t scare off your candidate, check our six fool-proof tactics to send irresistible outreach emails.

2. Brush up the company image

This is what stage #2 is all about. According to Hubspot, 92% of candidates would consider switching jobs if the new company has a good reputation.

In the digital age, a ‘good reputation’ means two things: a solid online presence and good reviews. Here’s a quick checklist to help you brush up the company image and nudge your passive candidate in the right direction.

  • Update web/social presence: A professional-looking website and active social media pages can make all the difference to a passive candidate. They’re looking for indicators that the company is legitimate, trustworthy, and worth pursuing a position in. So show them those indicators loud and clear.
  • Showcase company culture: Whether it’s on the company website or on social media, include photos showing happy employees at work. Highlight what makes the company unique and enjoyable (maybe skip the pool table in the middle of the office though).
  • Encourage online reviews: Too many negative reviews or no reviews at all is a huge red flag. Make sure all company profiles are updated with plenty of positive reviews from current employees to build trust with candidates.

It also helps if current employees share branded content on their social media profiles. People tend to trust peers over brands, so if a ‘friend of a friend’ advocates for the company you’re hiring for, there’s a good chance the candidate will get back to you.

3. Leverage social media

A whitepaper by CV Library showed that 80% of employers say social media helps them find passive candidates. It also revealed that 75% of recruiters actively use social media to find and contact potential hires.

If you’re not using social media as the effective recruiting tool it truly is, then you’re missing out on great hires.

LinkedIn is known for its wealth of quality candidates, but engaging those candidates can be tough. Every other recruiter out there is doing exactly the same as you, so it’s hard to make your message stand out. Use these quick techniques to become the only recruiter candidates want to talk to.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are less commonly used for recruiting, which is precisely why you should use them. Track the groups and threads your passive candidate is involved in and use that info as a conversation starter. It shows you’ve done your research and may help you find common ground to skyrocket your chance of getting a response.

If you want to go a step further (into Millennial territory), Snapchat and Instagram have recently proven themselves as worthy recruiting platforms. Companies like GrubHub, JPMorgan, and even Snapchat themselves actively use these channels to engage qualified candidates. You have to go where your candidates are, right?

Final recommendations

Engaging passive candidates doesn’t have to be a headache. With these three tips, you’ll be miles ahead from your competing recruiters when it comes to reeling in top talent.

If you really want to gain a competitive edge, check out these free recruiting tools for help hiring smarter and faster. To learn more about a platform that can instantly generate a spreadsheet of passive candidates complete with social media profiles, check out Triggr or schedule a demo.

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