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passive talent

How to attract and engage passive talent

Before approaching passive talent who may be good fits, organizations must first understand their own current and future workforce needs. Once established, Hiring managers and recruiters can often identify passive candidates through physical and online communities related to their professions as well as their own talent pools.

Your next perfect hire could be a passive candidate if you know where to find one. Passive job candidates are those who are currently employed and not actively seeking new job opportunities.

So why would you seek out a candidate who already has a job?  What sets these individuals apart is that they possess desirable skills and experience, and they may be open to a change if they were aware of other opportunities.

Consider these top options for identifying and engaging passive talent:

Understand future staffing needs before engaging passive talent

Monthly or quarterly routine staffing assessments should help determine immediate and projected gaps, including knowledge gaps and skills gaps. This analysis will establish the type of professional experience and skill sets necessary for future positions and guide how you build relationships with passive talent for those roles.

Where to find passive talent

Hiring managers and recruiters can often identify passive candidates through physical and online communities related to their professions. Talent sourcing suggestions include:

  • Associations
  • Job applicant tracking systems
  • Referrals from other professional contacts
  • Silver-medal candidates from previous opportunities
  • Social media outlets
  • Talent communities, either online or local networking groups
  • Trade conferences and forums

The best recruiters and hiring managers understand the nuances of the industries and positions they’re hiring, and they target passive talent accordingly.

Build relationships with passive talent 

Forming relationships with passive candidates requires more time than recruiting multiple candidates for an immediate position. Passive talent will often tell you that they are satisfied in their current roles and are not exploring other options.

As such, passive talent won’t leave their current employers without compelling reasons. Engaging passive candidates with transparency and without pressure to make a rapid decision is critical.  Approach passive talent with authenticity and personalized messages with content-rich information about their areas of expertise. Remember that passive candidates are not active job-seekers; develop an understanding of what they want to know about a prospective employer and possible position.

When communicating with passive talent over time, provide a powerful employee value proposition. Use potent video and static content to showcase the job opportunity, the organization and its culture.

Present job opportunities that offer additional responsibilities beyond passive candidates’ current roles or the chance to develop new skills. Don’t try to steer passive talent from their current positions to ones that are similar and offer no other significant reasons for a change.

Make the most of messaging 

Interpersonal communication is crucial to building a relationship with passive talent. Messaging should be personalized and demonstrate knowledge of the individual’s background.

According to LinkedIn, passive candidates are nearly 50 percent more likely to accept InMail messages if they’re connected to another employee at that organization. When making introductions with passive talent, include social proof, such as mentioning shared acquaintances, common professional connections or a professional referral.

While passive talent may not be looking for opportunities, they’re often willing to consider new opportunities for the right reasons. Learn about the individual, their current position and their current employer. Consider what factors might compel that individual to accept a new job with a particular organization. Develop at least three convincing reasons why passive talent might be motivated to leave their current role for a new one and tailor messaging accordingly.

Why would passive talent leave their current positions? 

The 2021 Voice of Talent survey found that the top reasons workers would leave their current roles include:

  • Low salary or pay rate
  • Overwhelmed by the job or burnt out
  • Poor career growth
  • Lack of benefits or perks
  • No upskilling or reskilling programs

Drive the conversation 

When narrowing in on an individual’s unique compelling reasons for considering a change, consider questions to drive the conversation:

  • What would it take to fuel a move to a new position (elevated job title, higher salary, additional responsibilities, job flexibility, improved work-life balance, different management style, etc.)?
  • Does the individual believe they will be in the market for a new role in the future and do they have a timeframe for when they may actively look?

The answers to these questions can inform ongoing communications with passive talent and ensure any opportunities presented are good fundamental fits for the candidate and the new organization.

Verify Alignment of Current Salary Data 

In addition to understanding passive talent as individuals and identifying potential motivators for considering a new role, it’s also vital to understand contemporary wages for comparable positions. Maintain up-to-date rate cards and salary guides. Fill any holes relative to a passive candidate’s experience and skills before establishing a viable pay range and salary cap.

Make sure any financial offers extended to passive talent are competitive and backed by candidate-focused incentives. Be prepared to negotiate.

It’s not often easy to entice passive talent, but it’s often worth the challenges when there’s an occasion to unite top talent with an elite organization.

The recruitment landscape has changed

Over the past two years, we have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagement by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a setp-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.

Download your copy today:

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