The RCI Blog

Why does passive talent matter?

Posted by Staff on Apr 1, 2015 3:57:00 PM

With a steadily improving economy, companies are beginning to feel the need to hire more workers. But a rapidly declining unemployment rate means many of the best qualified candidates are already back to work. This talent, who is often very skilled, is what comprises the elusive and highly coveted pool of workers referred to as “passive candidates.”


What is "passive talent"?

Passive candidates are different from active candidates in a variety of ways. They are usually not submitting resumes, tend to be more honest about what skills they possess and correlate their job satisfaction with how valuable they feel to their employer.Recruiting passive talent may seem like an unattainable goal to human resource professionals, but the truth is, these candidates are more willing to talk than we might think. A recent survey found that only 15 percent of current employees say they aren’t open to new opportunities. With a labor pool this large, it makes sense for recruiters to expend time and energy chasing down these leads.

An article on LinkedIn revealed that most passive candidates actually describe themselves as “explorers.” Although they aren’t actively job-seeking, they would be willing to talk with potential employers at other companies. With a recruiting approach focused solely on active candidates, HR professionals limit themselves to a tiny percentage of the talent pool. Recruiters absolutely must learn how to connect with these candidates if they want to stay competitive in the increasingly cutthroat fight for talent.

How to reach passive talent

In a quarterly research eBook with HCI, Jim Povec, CEO and founder of HiringQ, said the best way to approach passive talent is to discuss growth, improvement and additional responsibility. He said the value of working in an industry they’ve wanted to work in their whole life will amount to more than money.

By Povec’s definition, the needs of a passive candidate are partly intangible, making the job of recruiting them difficult. The recruiter has to discover what the passive candidates are specifically looking for and find a way to meet those needs. A keen HR professional will research what channels these candidates are using to seek out opportunities and then strategically build a presence on those channels.

Courting a passive candidate requires a lot of patience and a more refined, long-term approach. This recruiting tactic can actually be compared to dating. Let the candidate know that you like them, and then give them a reason to like you back. 

One proven way to do this is to showcase your industry expertise and become a resource of information. Start an industry specific blog and find ways to get published in leading magazines both on and offline. This lends additional credibility to your brand and increases the likelihood of attracting top talent to your company.

Joey V. Price, CEO of JUMPSTART: HR told HCI, "Passive candidates have the ball in their court...they won’t make the leap unless you communicate a unique proposition that scratches an itch not being met by their current employer."

Sourcing from the passive talent pool requires you to utilize a direct, highly targeted approach in your recruitment strategy. Not every job you send their way is going to meet those needs and it may take a long time before you present them with what they view as a golden ticket.

Find a way to present an opportunity with both monetary and intrinsic value to your desired candidate. Top talent know their value and in a job market that is increasingly shifting power to the employee, it takes an honest and compelling approach to bring them out of their current positions.

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Topics: Human Resources, Talent Acquisition

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