3 Ways to Engage Passive Candidates in a Competitive Talent Landscape

3 Ways to Engage Passive Candidates in a Competitive Talent Landscape

Key Takeaways:

  • Attracting passive candidates is a strategic approach for organizations to address workforce gaps and maintain productivity and innovation.
  • Effectively engaging passive candidates necessitates customized messaging and personalized efforts sustained over time, as generic outreach is unlikely to capture their attention or interest.
  • Building relationships with passive candidates over time is essential. It allows for a better understanding of their motivations and concerns, leading to more successful recruitment outcomes. 

There’s no denying that America’s workforce is shrinking. As of January 2024, there were nearly nine million job openings but only 6.1 million unemployed candidates who could possibly fill those roles. Experts believe that workforce numbers will only continue to diminish, making competition fiercer than ever.

For many hiring professionals, attracting passive candidates is one strategy to help them close gaps in their workforces and maintain productivity and innovation in their organizations.

Engaging passive candidates in a competitive talent landscape is crucial because it widens a company’s talent pool. When done well, it keeps an employer's brand visible to candidates and gently nudges them to reconsider a company’s offerings, even if they’re being recruited elsewhere.


What is a Passive Candidate?

A passive candidate is not actively seeking a new job but could be open to considering new opportunities.

Passive candidates have distinct qualities that set them apart from active candidates. Active candidates, those currently seeking new job opportunities, leave their current company for various reasons, including career advancement, better benefits, and company culture. However, most passive candidates are content with their positions. That said, though they may not be reviewing open roles, these individuals are generally open to new opportunities if they are presented convincingly. 

Such candidates are valuable to employers for three key reasons:

  1. Passive candidates have already shown loyalty to an employer, which means they have a high potential for long-term commitment.
  2. They have also demonstrated that they aren’t easily swayed by salary increases alone, which means they value company culture, career growth, and job satisfaction.
  3. They often bring fresh perspectives and ideas from rich backgrounds and meaningful experiences.

Still, engaging passive candidates can be challenging for hiring professionals. They are often resistant to leaving the familiarity of their current work environment and colleagues.

Recruitment marketing professionals usually need to develop targeted messaging that gets to the root of their motivations and addresses their concerns about moving to a new employer. Generic outreach generally doesn’t work with these candidates, as they are clearly happy right where they are. The challenges that come with cold outreach are why building relationships with passive candidates over time can be beneficial, as they may be more receptive to considering new opportunities when they arise.

what is a passive candidate


Innovative Engagement Strategies for Passive Candidates

If a hiring professional wants to attract passive candidates to their organization, it’s important to employ innovative engagement strategies. After all, these candidates are often highly sought after despite their hesitance to actively enter the job market.

One crucial strategy for engaging passive candidates is strengthening the employer brand, and building the right perception of an employer brand starts with creating the right content. This is especially true for the content easily visible to passive candidates who are likely to do in-depth research on an employer before making any career moves.

Companies trying to attract passive candidates can begin their content marketing strategies by focusing on their resources. Ensuring the latest content contains valuable information such as industry insights, career advice, and company updates not only gives candidates the information they want to know but also provides them immense value in their current positions, something they are likely to appreciate.

Hiring professionals can additionally focus on creating videos. Among consumers, 44%, including the passive candidates employers are trying to sway, would rather learn about something through video than text. Also, video viewers retain 95% of the messages they see and hear through video compared with just 10% of the information they learn through text. Videos showcasing day-in-the-life stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses can show passive candidates what it’s really like to work for an organization and help them understand how a company values its employees.

Tip: Jamyr is a great tool for taking the company’s employer brand to the next level. It helps companies manage, integrate, and produce visually captivating videos aimed at engaging and converting top talent.

The important thing is that employers aren’t just creating content without a goal in mind. Companies need to ensure each piece of content is carefully tailored to resonate with what passive candidates need to be convinced to leave their current positions and bring their talents to a different organization.


3 Ways to Engage Passive Candidates 

It is crucial for hiring professionals to become intentional about engaging passive candidates if they expect to win them over. Here are three strategies for making that happen.

recruitment strategies


1. Personalized Outreach

One way to purposefully engage passive candidates is through personalized outreach. Since passive candidates aren't actively seeking open roles, they anticipate being treated differently than the general pool of applicants. They’re happy with their jobs, meaning they’re only likely to leave if something piques their specific interests.

Hiring professionals must tailor their communication with a passive candidate to that person’s unique preferences. They must avoid painting all leads with the same broad stroke. Instead, hiring professionals must follow a sales or marketing team’s lead and segment their audience to create candidate personas.

Candidate personas help hiring professionals group passive candidates based on concrete data, such as employer website behavior, social media contact, email messages, or other categories of previous interactions. This allows recruitment marketing professionals to deliver precisely targeted messaging to candidates and nurture leads at different stages of the decision-making process. This, in turn, makes it easier to convince passive candidates to work for the organization.

Hiring professionals must also take a proactive approach to engaging with passive candidates through multiple preferred channels. With a total of one billion current members, professional social media sites like LinkedIn make it easy to search thousands of possible passive candidates and assess their qualifications and interests based on their profiles and recent posts. These platforms also make it easy for hiring professionals to message candidates they want to engage and learn more about.

Additionally, employers can use tried and true marketing tactics like targeted ads on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok. These ads can potentially increase employer brand awareness and passive candidate engagement.


2. Offering Professional Development Opportunities

To engage passive candidates, hiring professionals should also consider showcasing their organizations' robust professional development opportunities – which can identify internal career paths for employees and candidates. In turn, they can outline clear criteria and milestones for career advancement and provide guidance on the steps employees and candidates can take to advance.

Showcasing robust professional development opportunities also helps by strengthening an employer's brand by highlighting employees and their success stories. By doing so, company’s can showcase to candidates their commitment to employee growth and how it’s possible for team members to advance in their careers – which is something passive candidates will likely be interested in.

It also shows that the organization actively invests in employee development and promotion from within, with opportunities for upward mobility and skill enhancement. Diverse training options and access to training programs and certifications show passive candidates that the employer recruiting them will also do what it takes to retain them.

Note: A study shows that 83% of Gen Z workers identify as job hoppers. These young workers cite various factors influencing their career choices, such as opportunities for growth and flexibility, not solely financial considerations. The crucial role of professional development for this generation indicates that companies can pique their interest by addressing their specific needs and preferences in job content – even when they’re not actively job hunting.

passive candidates


3. Hosting Networking Events and Webinars

One final way for employers to engage passive candidates is by hosting networking or hiring events and webinars. Passive candidates may not want to leave their positions now, but that could change one day. They might also learn something about an organization that pushes them closer to considering another role.

These events serve as powerful platforms that highlight the credibility and authority of the participating companies and reinforce the importance of their contributions to the industry. By showcasing their expertise and achievements, these events instill confidence in attendees and reaffirm their decision to network with these organizations.

Tip: Encourage interaction and relationship-building among attendees and provide platforms for them to exchange ideas, experiences, and contact information.


Winning Over Passive Candidates Takes Intentional Time, Effort, and Strategy

Winning over a passive candidate is no easy feat. If it were, no employer would need to worry about recruiting candidates to fill open positions and getting the talent they need to compete in crowded markets.

The key to moving passive candidates toward an organization is personalizing the messaging to reflect their personal and professional desires. Hiring professionals must give candidates a good reason to consider leaving their positions beyond just an increase in salary or benefits.

Employers must also show how their mission and values align with a candidate and that they are willing to invest in helping them reach their goals. Then, a passive candidate might be willing to do the same for that organization.

If you're ready to refine your recruitment strategies to attract passive candidates, Recruitics is here to help! Our specialized team is equipped to offer strategic assistance and personalized recruitment marketing solutions, empowering organizations of any scale to target and attract passive candidates effectively.

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