Passive candidates: that group of employees most organisations seek – but don’t quite know how to reach. What can you do to get your job ads in front of this elusive but massive talent pool?
In a nut shell, passive candidates are employees who are engaged and motivated in their current role, but might consider a move if a better career opportunity comes along. As you can probably guess, they are pretty hard to get in front of. How do you attract these candidates?
Since active candidates aren’t as discriminating, you are able to offer traditional job descriptions. However, a more discerning candidate will want to see how the new job defines the challenges, key projects and impact that they can make.
You will need to demonstrate a career – not a job. You will need to outline long-term growth aspects of the role, company potential and demonstrate that this job will offer the candidate the opportunity to make a bigger impact, gain more exposure or take on a significant learning opportunity.
The first step to writing an effective ad is to make sure you define the real job. You can home in on this by identifying what needs to be delivered in the first 12 months. What will the person need to do? What stakeholders will they have to engage with to achieve these goals? What is most important in making this happen, and the least important? What tools and resources will the person have to utilise?
Information about the budgets, projects, resources and challenges they will need to work through can all help grab the attention of passive candidates. The more detail that you can include – especially quantifiable information: size of team, size of budget, etc. – the better. Outlining what the person will learn or get as a result of this position will be important in attracting good candidates.
It’s also important to emphasise opportunities, rather than job requirements. “You must have five years of experience in X” might actually cause an outstanding candidate who has progressed faster than their peers not to apply. However, if you rephrase the sentence to say, “Use your experience in X to drive Y,” it covers some mandatory points without eliminating potential top and passive candidates from applying.
Top people are motived by exceeding expectations, and they are only able to do that when the expectations are clear. It’s easier for a person to measure if they are competent for a role if the job is clearly defined in terms of success.
By clearly defining the work that needs to be done in the job advertisement, with the critical hard and soft skills required to achieve the outcomes, a good candidate can picture themselves in the role.
By highlighting opportunities in the role and focusing on the talent required, rather than the exclusionary experience clauses, you will be attracting passive candidates with high potential. Focus on outcomes, rather than input, and make your objectives as clearly defined as possible.