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Advice for recruiting and managing the passive candidate

Hiring is becoming a priority in many companies as the economy continues to improve. With a dropping unemployment rate – the best candidates are currently employed. How does a company, both recruit and manage this highly coveted pool of talent?

It’s important to understand that a person who is not actively seeking employment is different than active job seekers. Active job seekers are highly motivated to learn about new opportunities and are quick to sell themselves to a prospective employer. Passive candidates, on the other hand, are content. They are not looking for a new opportunity. They often approach the prospect of a new position with a great deal of skepticism. To be successful in both recruiting and managing the passive candidate here are some thoughts:


Do understand their motivation

What would motivate them to make a move? The initial conversation should always be centered on them, their career, what type of opportunity would be important to them. Is there anything they don’t have today that they would like to have in a position, corporate culture, etc.? As you speak with them, it is up to you to determine if you really having anything to “sell” them in terms of overall opportunity with your company.

Do communicate

Communication is a key component to keeping the passive candidate engaged. This applies to all phases of the process. Candidates expect feedback in a timely fashion. Candidates expect the process to move forward, also, in a timely fashion. We all know that the recruiting process doesn’t go as quickly and smoothly as we all would like. Delays occur. If you wait weeks to provide updates, these people will lose interest. It’s important to ensure that communications are done timely and consistently. A high touch approach goes a long way to keeping this highly coveted group of candidates fully engaged through and to the end of the recruiting process.

Do sell them

The passive candidate will need to be sold. They will need information to see how your opportunity will take their career in the right direction. Don’t assume just because they agree to an interview that they will automatically accept a job offer. They will need to be courted.

Do close them

Don’t assume that they will accept an offer. If the passive candidate sees your opportunity as a good one, they will move, but for the right offer. Make sure any offer is well thought out and definitely is one that will move their compensation in the right direction.

To build a dynamic workforce, it’s important to understand that it takes effort in time and well thought out strategies.


Do not treat them like a candidate

Candidates are not always treated well by prospective employers. This has been documented time and time again during the last few years. Passive candidates will pick up on this immediately and question whether or not they would want to work for you. Always put your best foot forward.

Do not put efficiency over effectiveness

Too often companies are so quick to want to fill a position, they will take anyone. Remember, the passive candidate takes more time – they will not jump. However, when you successfully recruit a passive candidate, they have made the decision to join you for the right reasons. Their contribution and longevity will make the wait worthwhile.

Do not worry about cost

Often it requires outside assistance to identify and thoroughly manage passive candidates. The caliber of candidate is what is important. Don’t shy away from spending money on outside assistance. The cost will be minimal compared to a wrong hire.

Do not be too busy

Passive candidates are interviewing you as well. Spend the time to let them get to know you. If this is someone you have high interest in – show it. Provide them a tour of your facility; give them the history of the company.

Jumping cartoon

The time, effort and money put into hiring the best talent will determine the quality of people you hire. Remember, successful organizations are made up of successful people. Mediocre organizations are made up of mediocre people.

More expert advice about Career Success as a Manager

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Cathleen FaerberManaging Director

25+ years as an executive search professional. Successfully executed search engagements throughout the United States and Canada in many functional areas, disciplines and industries. ...

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