Recruiting Passive Job Seekers: A Full Guide

by Sandra Jenkins

The wake of the pandemic and its various shake-ups have left us with a job seeker’s market. Job seekers come first in today’s recruitment scene, and cut-throat talent competition is the norm.

Not to mention, you’re looking at a market of tough-to-convince, already-employed potential applicants. Recent data from Zippia reveals that as much as 73% of potential candidates are merely passive job seekers.

They’re looking for better opportunities, and you have to do more work to convince them that that’s you.

This article will discuss how you can bolster your recruitment game to target passive job seekers.

What are Passive Job Seekers?

What are Passive Job Seekers?

When it comes to recruiting, passive job seekers are one of the most talked-about demographics today, so it’s essential to define them precisely.

Passive job seekers are potential applicants who are not actively looking for a job. Most of the time, these are candidates who are already employed and in a pretty comfortable employment position – yet they are open to seeking better opportunities when it arises.

The current Great Resignation is a good example. Last August 2021 saw a record-breaking mass-resignation in the US, with over 2.9% of the entire American workforce (about 4.3 million individuals) quitting their jobs almost simultaneously.

This means that recruiters are going to have to work harder to compete, not just with other recruiters, but with the applicant’s current jobs.

What Makes Passive Job Seekers Different?

Now we know their basic definition, but if you want to bring them over to your side, you’re going to have to dig deeper.

Knowing your enemy is half the battle, so they say, and for us, this means that we need to know the four main characteristics of a passive job seeker. Passive job seekers are ambitious, open to opportunities, forward-thinking, and dynamic.

Let’s discuss each one.

1. Passive job seekers are ambitious

Passive job seekers know what they want, and what they want is something better. This is just common sense; if you’re already on one side of the fence, you don’t have any reason to go to the other unless you’re sure that the grass there is greener.

But not all passive job seekers want more money. While this can be a main driving force for some, they could be looking for more flexible work hours, better work-life balance, a shorter commute, and more.

A recent article by Glassdoor lists job benefits more likely to attract quality candidates:

  • Work hour flexibility
  • Good medical, visual, and dental insurance packages
  • Better retirement benefits plan
  • Comprehensive life insurance
  • Health and well-being programs

If there ever were any high-quality candidates, those would be already-employed passive job seekers.

2. They are Opportunity Seekers.

As mentioned, passive job seekers are currently employed; however, they’re open to looking for something better.

Because they’re not actively looking for new jobs, recruiters need to trigger interaction with aggressive and well-placed marketing or strategic contact. Although passive job seekers are relatively comfortable in their new position, this doesn’t mean that they’re closed off to better jobs.

The US Pulse Survey conducted by PwC revealed that 65% of part- and full-time employees in the US are looking for a new job, and 88% of employers are seeing above-average turnover rates.

As mentioned in the previous section, this survey also reveals the reasons for this shift:

  • Wages (41% of executives reveal this is the reason for leaving)
  • Benefits (23%)
  • Career advancement (33%)
  • Work flexibility (34%)

This just goes to show that there’s a huge opportunity for you to attract these high-level candidates, especially if you address their core concerns.

3. They are forward-thinkers

Passive job seekers know what they’re looking for, and they’re not afraid to think long term.

After all, these individuals are already in a relatively comfortable position, so they won’t make any rash decisions and there aren’t any pressures for them to look for a new job. If anything can sway them, it’s going to be profitable long-term prospects.

A 2017 research revealed that at least 70% of employees don’t feel like they reach their full potential every day. If passive job seekers are thinking long term, they’re going to want:

  • Quality professional training and development
  • Long-term health and life insurance
  • Robust retirement benefit plans
  • Meaningful, inspiring, and recognized work

4. They are dynamic

Staying up to date is a core characteristic of passive job seekers. Job seekers are more aware of trends than ever before, and they know when the time is right to level up their careers.

Thus, it would help immensely if you stayed close at hand to passive candidates you source. You can do this by keeping in regular communication with passive candidates.

As your organization and their professional status change and develop, it’s all the more important to stay in touch. Keep them updated with current and relevant events in your company, especially those that highlight your employer brand and work culture.

Steps to Recruit Passive Job Seekers

Steps to Recruit Passive Job Seekers

Now that we know our targets, we’re going to detail each step of how you can attract the best passive candidates for your organization today.

Build a stronger employer brand than your competitors

Your employer brand will be your primary asset when it comes to attracting passive candidates.

These candidates need to know that your company is a good place to work, and their best source for that is going to be your reputation among other employers and the fact that you show to the world.

Glassdoor reveals that 83% of applicants meticulously check out your company brand while doing their research, while 84% of candidates from ReviewTrackers attest that your brand will affect their application decisions.

As if that’s not enough reason to be a better employer, about 96% of companies believe that employer brand even impacts your revenue.

If you want to attract passive candidates, you need to be better to work even compared to their current employers and other recruiters.

You can build a better employer brand by focusing on the following factors.

  • Social media activity. The world is becoming more social, so attract and maintain a good following on relevant social media platforms for your company.
  • Community involvement. Customers and employees alike are demanding more community involvement and social responsibility from their companies. Make sure you are involved with your community by organizing donation drives, community clean-ups, and other activities.
  • Employee health and wellness. The recent pandemic is an excellent example of how companies reveal their priorities. In times of great need, employees prefer companies that care about their well-being.

Conduct a Skill Gap Analysis

Before going full-throttle on your marketing and networking efforts, you first need to know your current and future staffing demands. Sourcing passive candidates take time and effort, so you need to be very targeted about your efforts.

Conduct a skill gap analysis to see the current job demands for your company. More than that, you also need to make an audit of whatever future needs your company might have.

For example, opening a new product line or opening a new business location will create an additional workload. Can your current employees handle it, or will you need to hire more staff? Will there be any future needs of a specialized employee?

You can start your data gathering with the following steps:

  1. Create a research plan. What kinds of data will you need, and how will you go about getting it? Will you need to interview department heads? Or maybe create a questionnaire for current employees?
  2. Conduct the evaluation. Go through with your planned research. Make sure that its implementation is both time-bound yet comprehensive.
  3. Analyze your results. Assess your data to see any current or projected skill demands. It would also do you well to see whether these demands can’t be filled with internal hires.

With this background knowledge, you’ll know which passive candidates you need to focus on and how you can build up your relationship.

Source your target population

With a solid employer brand and a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to begin your sourcing of passive candidates.

To source the best possible applicants, you need your message to reach them. Posting on job boards isn’t enough anymore; you need to reach out in a more attention-grabbing and engaging way.

Reaching passive job seekers involves a mix of creativity and practicality. For example:

Social media and internet marketing

There are a wide variety of ways that you can advertise on the internet; all you have to do is find a way to reach your targeted demographics.

You can create and maintain a social media presence on the most relevant platforms for your business and then run target ads through that. You can also create your own careers page, blogs, communities and forums, website ads, and YouTube channels.

Employee referrals programs

Your employees are a valuable source of referrals for passive job seekers. Create a profitable referral program to incentivize current employees to provide high-quality contacts.

Creative physical advertising

Nobody looks twice at ads posted in the newspaper, but if you attach your job vacancy announcement to your store’s free wifi network, people are going to take notice.

Be creative and capture people’s attention with television ads, attractive posters and signages, and other paraphernalia.

Engage your targeted passive job seekers

Passive job seekers are not in a hurry to change jobs, but they are more than willing to jump to new and better opportunities. Now that you’ve captured their attention with your advertisement efforts, it’s time to engage their interest and cultivate your relationship.

Here are key tips on how you can keep them engaged and interested in your company.

Don’t pressure them

Passive candidates will most likely be put off by aggressive marketing. They have no reason to go to your side yet, so aggressive marketing will only make you a nuisance to their job.

Slowly build a relationship over time

Instead of being pushy, you need to cultivate and maintain your professional relationship over time. Be patient and remember that the most effective efforts take time.

This is where your previous analysis comes in; you need to be sure that this candidate is worth spending all the time and effort on.

Communicate often

Cultivate your relationship by being in touch. Engage them genuinely and enrich your network, whether that communication is through emails, phone calls, or short personal meetings.

Send your candidates targeted messages and informative documents tailored to show off your company subtly. Discuss industry events and trends.

Another benefit of this method is that even if they don’t accept in the end, you have still gained a valuable contact in your professional network.

Use analytics

Utilize analytics tools to determine how much of your efforts are bearing fruit. There are many software tools that can give you insight into your advertising efforts.

Data such as how many of your ads are being clicked, how many of your emails are being opened, and how many people visit your website can all be gathered.

With this information at your disposal, you’ll know exactly which parts of your recruitment efforts are worth it and which should be pruned.

Streamline your application process

Lastly, make sure that your application process is easy and accessible. The difficulty of your application process ties into your candidate experience, and this is an important metric when you want to keep your applicants.

Data from CareerBuilder reveals that at least 60% of applicants stop filing online job applications simply because they find the process too hassling.

If that’s the case with typical applicants, then you really don’t want to discourage passive job seekers who are currently employed and don’t have the time or inclination for your complexities.

Thus, you need a streamlined and efficient system where passive job seekers can become candidates in the blink of an eye. You can do this by using an ATS or HR tools such as HireNest.

Recruiting Passive Job Seekers

Recruiting Passive Job Seekers in 2022

Passive job seekers are a valuable talent pool you need to tap into this 2022. However, this group is not an easy catch: you need to dedicate significant time and effort into enticing these potential hires – and even then, you might still not get them.

However, the rewards are great. Passive job seekers are motivated and skilled. If you want to increase your chances of recruiting them, you need to follow all the right steps.

One of the most actionable tips that we can give you is to use HireNest, a recruiting and collaboration platform that makes HR easy for your team.

With HireNest, you can expect your passive job seeker recruitment to be a breeze.

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