Just because your inbox isn’t flooded with job applications, that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential to lure great talent into your business. Here’s how to engage a passive candidate.
Not everyone is actively looking for a new job in these times of economic uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean they’re not open to change if the right opportunity comes along and you pitch it the right way.
With the current shortage of candidates, you can’t just rely on potential candidates actively seeking you out. Instead, you need to be proactive and make the first move in reaching out to passive candidates.
Remember, quality candidates are typically inundated with cold emails from recruiters and talent acquisition specialists. Sometimes you’ll struggle to get a response from prospective candidates, so you need to know how to be persuasive and stand out from the crowd.
Reach out the right way
Most emails to passive candidates remain unopened because recruiters overlook two simple things: who you are and how you can help them.
Most people glance at the sender’s name and subject line before deciding whether to even open an email, so it’s critical to make the right first impression. The personal touch makes all the difference.
Using your name as the sender, rather than a general email address or company name, makes a huge difference – increasing your open rate by more than 15-30 per cent. You should accompany this with a well-crafted subject line, anywhere from six to 10 words long, to capture their attention.
If you’re leaving voicemails, you want to pique their curiosity and make them feel important. Perhaps add a line like, “When you call me back, please tell whoever answers the phone to interrupt me no matter what I’m doing, so I don’t miss your call”.
Show them they’re important
With the tight competition for talent, your passive candidate is certainly tired of being contacted by recruiters. You’ll never get anywhere if you make them feel like just another number, and that you care more about filling a job opening than supporting them in achieving their goals.
Even if they’re not actively looking, many passive candidates would still be open to making a change if it aligned with their long-term goals and represented career advancement. It’s vital to pitch the role in a way that will appeal to them.
On first contact, refrain from beginning with your WWD (What We Do) spiel. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Ask questions to determine their biggest challenges, greatest needs or most pressing problems, and then position yourself as the solution. The better you are at addressing their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) concerns, the more successful you’ll be at winning them over.
Later in the conversation, let them know you’re well-placed to help them find what they’re looking for and achieve their goals. Share your track record of success and explain how you have helped plenty of other candidates just like them find their dream roles.
Be a good listener
Active listening doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s a skill you need to hone if you want to win over passive candidates.
When you’re actively listening, you’re completely focused on the person who’s speaking, rather than also trying to juggle other tasks. Give them time to elaborate and try not to interrupt. If you need to ask clarifying questions, it can help to repeat what they’ve said in your own words, to check your understanding.
Read HRM’s guide to discover your default listening type.
Active listening makes an impression on people, even if they don’t realise it. It shows them that you respect them and view what they say as important and worthwhile.
Firing off a quick text message might be the fastest way to get a response from someone, but building a true rapport requires a personal touch. Sometimes a phone call or well-written email is the better option.
Remember, you’re not just trying to strike a deal, you’re trying to forge an ongoing relationship. The only way that will happen is if you make a real connection, which leads to trust.
Stay in touch
If a passive candidate says no, make it clear you would still like to get to know them for any future needs they may have. Even though they aren’t interested now, one great question to ask is; “Do you plan to leave your current position?” Also, ask if there are any roles that you should make them aware of.
Email them an introductory letter and a sample of your current opportunities. This way they have your details when they need them ,plus they might share this with people they know who are looking for a career move.
If a passive candidate says yes, and you want to differentiate from your competition, continue to communicate on a regular basis to ensure they’re happy. This is where most recruiters and talent acquisition professionals drop the ball, which is why you’ll stand out if you do have a strong follow-up and nurture process in place when dealing with passive candidates.
Ensure your team’s recruitment processes are up to date by signing up for AHRI’s short course, Effective Interviewing and Selection Skills.