A recruiter’s guide to passive candidate sourcing in 2021

Is your vacancy list piling up? Found yourself facing a shortage of candidates lately? Well, you wouldn’t be the only one. In 2020, there was a tidal wave of candidates with record-breaking applicants for new vacancies. But in 2021, the market looks a bit different, doesn’t it? Companies are reigniting their hiring plans from 2020 (thankfully), but you might be one of the many recruiters struggling to actually fill their vacancies.

You can’t always guarantee an influx of applications, especially not in today’s volatile market. That’s where having a backup plan will come in handy. Let’s take a look at how to source and build a strong pipeline of passive candidates.

What are passive candidates?

Passive candidates are talent pools of people who aren’t actively looking for a new career, but are open to new opportunities. They’re in the market, but not necessarily on the market. They’re quite happy in their current position, and therefore their CVs won’t typically be found on job boards.

7 real benefits why industry leading recruiters pipeline passive candidates

There are a few different reasons you’ll want to build a pipeline of passive candidates:

  • Overcome candidate shortages
  • Sets you apart as a recruiter
  • Increased referrals
  • Quicker time-to-fill

1. Overcome candidate shortages

The recruitment industry will always fluctuate depending on the economy. There will always be times when there simply isn’t the necessary volume of applicants coming through. In times like those, it’s important to have a strong network of passive candidates, and to not be reliant on active candidates on job boards.

2. Sets you apart as a recruiter

Very often, recruiters can end up fishing from the same pond, submitting the same candidates to clients. This can be a pet peeve for clients who want to see something different from the market. With a strong passive candidate pipeline, you have the opportunity to cast a wider net and show your clients something different, setting you apart as a recruiter.

3. Increased referrals

As you build up your network of passive candidates, you’ll also be strengthening your relationships with those candidates. As you build a trusting relationship, candidates become more likely to recommend other professionals in the field.

4. Quicker time-to-fill

After taking the time to build strong relationships with a network of passive candidates, you’re likely to fill a position quicker than if you were having to start from scratch. It takes time to build relationships with passive candidates, so the sooner you start, the better!

5. Better match

More often than not, passive candidates tend to be a better match against the job brief. That’s because you’ve been able to scout out the talent you need, rather than waiting for it to come to you.

6. Less risky

Since passive candidates aren’t actively applying for new roles, they rarely have other opportunities on the go at the same time. This is a GREAT benefit since you run less risk of the candidate taking another role elsewhere and your placement falling through.

7. Candidate to client

There are countless stories of passive candidates turning into great clients. They may not be interested in your career opportunity, but if you impress them with your expertise and approach, there’s a window of opportunity for you to recruit for their business. What better way to show clients they can put their trust in you than by giving them first-hand experience of your recruiting approach?!

Where do you find them?

You can find passive candidates anywhere along your recruitment journey. In fact, you speak to passive candidates everyday. You can find them on LinkedIn, on job boards (if they uploaded their CV a long time ago and are no longer seeking work), or even at networking events.

The trick isn’t in finding passive candidates, it’s in recognising them and how you nurture a relationship with them.

It’s all too common for recruiters to hear ‘no’ from a candidate and then scuttle onto the next. Just because a candidate says ‘no’ doesn’t mean you disregard them. If they’re placeable in your market, your aim should always be to build a relationship for a future opportunity.

How to engage passive candidate

1. Check-in calls

Check-in calls are a great way of keeping in touch with your passive candidates. Don’t wait for them to call you. If they’re not actively looking for a role, just ask them if it’s okay to touch base in a few months time. A lot can change in a few months that might prompt the candidate to look for a new role - perhaps they move house or get a new boss - so it’s important you keep yourself in the loop.

2. Provide value

Candidate-recruiter relationships are a two-way street. As a recruiter, you can provide a lot of value to your candidates by filling them in on what the industry’s doing, or even helping them to revamp their LinkedIn profile. Make sure you’re always giving back to your candidates and being helpful in any possible way!

3. Understand their motives

It’s absolutely vital you get to know your passive candidates and understand exactly what sort of opportunity would pique their interest. Although they’re happy in their current role, find out what their motives would be for switching roles whether that be money, location, projects etc. No matter how happy a candidate says they are in a role, 9 times out of 10 they’ll always have that one opportunity they wouldn’t want to miss out on.

4. Establish your credibility

Candidates get contacted by recruiters on a regular basis and, let’s be honest, it’s probably not always a productive experience. So it’s important you show them why they want to keep you around. Prove to your candidates you’re not just another recruiter. Instead, show them you’re knowledgeable about their industry, mention the different types of roles you recruit for and companies you work with, and maybe even share a success story or two. This will help gain the candidate’s trust.

5. Stay connected

Make sure you keep yourself on the radar of your passive candidates. They’ll likely be contacted by several recruiters, but many of them won’t stick around long enough to be remembered. So connect on LinkedIn, email and WhatsApp.

Don’t forget the Millenials and Gen Z too - they love to engage with other types of content like blogs, case studies and social posts/groups, so get creative and make yourself visible.

Engaging passive candidates isn’t always an overnight process. It often involves several months of relationship building until the time comes when the candidate is ready to make a move and call upon your trusted services. So it’s important you start building a pipeline of passive candidates as soon as yesterday. Don’t wait until you’re stuck on a role - make it part of your everyday routine.

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