Top 5 Strategies for Sourcing Passive vs. Active Candidates

Time to Read: 4.3 minutes

Updated: March 27, 2023

The talent market is tough right now. Many organizations are finding it hard to source candidates with the right technical skills and experience thanks to ongoing talent shortages and growing skills gaps in industries like healthcare, technology, retail, professional services, manufacturing, etc. One solution to the challenge of attracting the right candidates (at the right quality and quantity) is to take a more proactive approach to your talent acquisition processes, targeting passive vs active candidates for roles.

By taking your opportunities to candidates that fit your ideal profile rather than waiting for them to come to you, you can dramatically increase your recruitment ROI and reduce the chances of making a less-than-perfect hire.

What’s The Difference Between Active And Passive Candidates?

Active candidates are those who are currently looking for a job. They can be either employed or unemployed, but they are actively searching, applying and interviewing. Statistically, active job seekers make up around 25% of the workforce and most vacancies are filled by active candidates. Active candidates are easy to reach since they are searching for open vacancies, and they are involved in boosting their personal brand on LinkedIn and social media.

Passive candidates are currently employed but not looking to change roles. They may not be searching for a new role but that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to a conversation. Reaching passive candidates can be a little more difficult and requires some care but since they make up 75% of the workforce, sourcing a passive candidate can be the perfect way to hire in-demand skills and the exact level of experience you need.

Why Are Passive Candidates Better For Your Roles?

If active candidates are much easier to reach, why you should take the trouble to source passive candidates instead? There are many benefits to targeting passive candidates in your talent acquisition strategies, including:

There’s Less Competition for Passive Candidates

Since most roles are filled by active candidates that’s where many employers and recruiters focus their time, so there is less competition for passive candidates. Plus, since you approached them, you can be relatively sure they aren’t interviewing elsewhere.

Passive Candidates Are Pre-Screened

When searching for ideal candidates, you look for certain skills and experience levels. Since you’ve researched and approached the candidate you know they’re qualified. You’ve effectively pre-screened them, skipping a step in the recruitment process and saving you time.

The Chances of a Bad Hire Are Reduced

Since they already have the skills you need; you’ll need to invest less in training to get them up to speed and you’ll get a faster return on your investment. Passive candidates perform better than active candidates in the initial stages of employment too as they tend to have worked in similar roles already. Overall, the chances of making a bad hire are vastly reduced.

So How Can You Shape Your Hiring Strategy To Source Passive Candidates?

Reaching those perfectly qualified and high-performing passive candidates requires you to adjust some aspects of your hiring strategy.
We have five ways you can target passive candidates as well as active.

1. Be Proactive

Use social media, resume databases and your own ATS to make the first move and reach out to candidates. Your ATS will be full of candidates who just missed out on being hired or who weren’t quite right for a role at the time but may be perfect for your needs now.

2. Take Advantage of Your Current Employees and Their Networks

Throughout your career you’ll have met plenty of talented and exceptional colleagues and so will your employees. You can tap into this incredible network through employee referral programs. Not only can your employees refer potential candidates to you, but they can also help get passive candidates excited about your organization. You can even use them in employer branding campaigns to help you sell your brand to passive candidates.

3. Use Personalization to Tailor Communication

It might take time to convince a secure professional that your business is the right move for them so work to build up a relationship with them and keep them warm with friendly communication. Personalization can be incredibly useful when it comes to follow-up emails and messages. The average LinkedIn in-mail response rate is around 25% whereas personalized messages perform 15% better with an average response rate of 40%.

4. Speed Up the Recruitment Process

As we mentioned above by researching and approaching candidates you’ve already pre-screened them. You know what skills they have so you can allow them to skip recruitment process steps, such as supplying a CV or technical testing, and jump straight to the interview stage. Put together a specific hiring pipeline for passive candidates.

5. Connect with an RPO partner

What sets an RPO apart from other recruiting solutions is the all-inclusive strategic support. Pierpoint can help you create a customized passive candidate attraction program based on the specific needs of your organization, your industry and the level of experience required, and the volume of talent needed. Learn more about how our flexible solutions can enhance your employer branding and help you make great hires so your business can prosper. Contact one of our solutions experts for more information.

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Jen Mulholland

Jen is a successful recruitment and marketing professional. Driven by a genuine passion for writing, she provides insightful, accurate and engaging content for the Human Resources community across a wide range of topics and industries.

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