Seven tips to improve sourcing passive job candidates

Many recruiting colleagues have told me their organizations do not know how to source passive job candidates — that is, someone who is not actively looking for work. They depend on posting jobs on LinkedIn or Indeed, hoping active candidates will apply. In a tight labor market with two times more job openings than the unemployed and over 21 million resignations in the past five months, posting and praying don’t work. Learn my seven tips that will improve finding and hiring passive job candidates.

No. 1 – Reach out to the second or third place job candidates you did not hire in the past year and ask if they are still open to a new opportunity.

No. 2 – Reach out to your good employees who resigned more than three months ago to ask if they like their new job or are open to returning to your company. This tactic doesn’t work well if you have not addressed why they left, such as below-market pay, a bad boss, lack of development and promotion opportunities, or no options for hybrid working. If you can address what caused them to leave, you have a good chance of luring them back. Enlist the support of their best friends at work to attract them back.

No. 3 – Learn where your passive candidates are on social media and reach out to them there. Many recruiters depend on LinkedIn to find job candidates, but your job candidates might not be there or are not looking for job openings because they are not looking for a job after all. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can increasingly help find job candidates for younger and hourly workers and college graduates.

To search on social media, you will need to develop short posts and videos to attract candidates. Slick marketing posts are losing their attraction with millennial and Gen X workers. It is better to post testimonials by employees using their smartphones to film themselves speaking about the chill work they are doing and the fun and supportive work culture. Do not fall into the temptation while using social media to look at job candidates’ personal profiles. You may find information about the candidates that will prejudice your job search or may be illegal to consider in a job search, such as race, age, pregnancy status, sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity.

No 4 – Use AI to find and screen passive job candidates. While about 25 percent of recruiters find candidates on social media, many would have better results with AI, apps, and chatbot texting. AI platforms such as ThisWay Global can be used to find where your ideal job candidate exists on the internet and then to target ads to those sites.

If your applicant tracking system has a chatbot for reaching out to applicants, use it to find applicants. Some platforms, such as Olivia, Humanly, Ideal, HireView, and Mya screen job candidates with friendly questions, and may eliminate the need for job candidates to send in a resume. The experience can be so seamless that 73 percent of surveyed candidates who had interacted with Mya reported they had an interaction with a recruiter when they in fact had spoken only with the bot. I have seen this work for many hourly roles and with younger employees in professional careers. For the job candidate, it feels like they are speaking with a friend by text, and it speeds up the screening process.

No 5. Establish a referral program. If you are not getting 25 percent of your hires from referrals, there might be a significant problem with your work culture or the pay and benefits offered. Jobvite research shows that 25 percent of recruiters find their best candidates through referrals. Other research reveals that referrals perform up to 15 percent better than differnt types of hires, and they tend to have a 25 percent better retention rate. Pay for referrals. Even when paying for referrals, it is less expensive than ads. Just be sure to screen referrals like other job candidates.

No. 6 – Ask your managers for their top-ten list of outsiders to recruit and new hires. Whether you find candidates ready to move now or later, this will help you build a strategic talent pool for the same role.

No. 7 – Speed up the hiring process and make it easy. Many companies still have slow recruiting processes and clunky technology that frustrates job applicants. Work towards “one-click” application processes where candidates can either upload a resume or LinkedIn profiles (answering only a few short questions that are initial screens or legally required).  Speed up your process further by using the AI technology recommended above and training everyone who interviews on how to do tasks more effectively. Most importantly, measure how quickly your organization fills jobs and where speed breaks down in the process.

It is a tough labor market, but you will find the qualified job candidates you need by sourcing passive candidates – not just posting and praying.

Victor Assad is the CEO of Victor Assad Strategic Human Resources Consulting and managing partner of InnovationOne.. He works with companies to transform HR and recruiting, implement remote work, and develop extraordinary leaders, teams, and innovation cultures. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, Hack Recruiting: the Best of Empirical Research, Method and Process, and Digitization. Subscribe to his weekly blogs at 

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