It’s a candidate’s market, we just live in it. With the unemployment rate in technology dipping to 2% and lower in some markets, the demand for talent only continues to grow. According to Glassdoor, 90% of recruiters agree that the market is in the candidates’ favor. When available tech talent dwindles, you have to find them.
Only a few technology professionals are actively seeking new opportunities. LinkedIn states that 25% are actively looking for new work, with 2/3 of them currently employed. Meanwhile 75% of jobseekers are considered passive, employed but open to new opportunities. These candidates are called passive candidates or non-candidates. They are the majority of talent available.
Passive jobseekers shouldn’t be your “last resort” when it comes to building a strong tech team. Instead, actively strategize a recruiting approach that allows you to reach out to those who are currently employed. Their casual approach to a job search requires dedication on your part, however. This “non-candidate” pool is where the majority of talent is and can result in the best hires.
Desire & Intent
With the demand for candidates high, and the availability of talent low, top performers have the luxury of being able to find new work somewhat easily. While Millennials are labelled as “Job Hoppers,” more frequent career change is a phenomenon expanding across generations and industries.
A survey by Willis Towers Watson states 3 in 10 employees say they are likely to leave their employer within the next two years. The average tenure has decreased from 4.6 years in January 2014 to 4.2 years in January 2016 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Meanwhile, only 15% of workers are completely satisfied and don’t want to move on to another company (LinkedIn).
Job-hopping and dissatisfaction elsewhere can work in your favor. With satisfaction low and intent to leave somewhat moderate, employees are more likely to be open to a passive candidate experience. Casually talking to recruiters or browsing the occasional job post are relatively lowrisk methods of exploring new opportunities. Plus, with today’s social networks, platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor introduce new opportunities to passive candidates on a daily or weekly basis.
Even satisfied workers glance at outside opportunities. While 80% of passive jobseekers are satisfied in their current job (LinkedIn), almost 60% of workers look at other jobs at least monthly (Indeed), and 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job (Glassdoor).
In 2015, 75% of workers with new jobs hadn’t actively applied for the position but were “poached” or referred (FRBSF Economic Research). Seeking passive candidates is common practice, for reasons beyond necessity.
Another untapped resource lies in former employees: 40% say they’d consider returning to their former company (Workplacetrends). These are called boomerang employees. You already know their skills and culture fit, and they know what to expect from your workplace.
Passive Candidate, Active Results
Passive candidates have up-to-date experience, in-demand skills, and current industry knowledge. They likely won’t have a gap in their resume. They are also 120% more likely to want to make an impact, 33% more likely to want more challenging work, and 17% less likely to need skill development (Undercover Recruiter).
Passive candidate performance was rated 9% higher than active candidates, and these individuals were 25% more likely to stay with an organization long-term (CEB Recruiting Leadership Council Global Labour Market Briefing).
However, these perks come at a cost: 32% of passive candidates expect a salary increase of more than 15% if approached by recruiters, and that figure rises to 51% if the job in question requires relocation (Indeed).
They are harder to find and are less likely to jump through hoops. To get their attention, they require a great deal of flexibility in your talent acquisition process.
The 3 P’s of Passive Candidates
Passive candidates are less likely to find you, less likely to participate in long hiring processes, and less likely to take the leap without plenty of information. No matter the circumstance, a new job requires risk and therefore, trust. To attract passive candidates, the process must be quick, informative, effective, and friendly.
When pursuing passive candidates, you must have a plan: be prepared, be proactive, and be persistent. While these steps may feel numerous, they are the building blocks of a comprehensive strategy that will lure in both active and passive candidates.
- Culture: Before you begin your attempts to attract new employees, focus on creating an engaging culture for your current employees. The right culture will keep your current employees from the job-hopping trend and instead make them your biggest advocates in attracting future employees.
- Referrals: Encourage your employees to join the cause. Create a referral reward program to increase your prospects. Referrals tend to be faster, cheaper, and have higher retention rates.
- Resources: Be sure you have the resources available to capture the attention of passive jobseekers. Be prepared to make a competitive offer and have opportunities available for advancement.
- Online Presence: Update your website and social media pages to appropriately reflect your culture and other offerings. Be sure your site is mobilefriendly for casual, passive browsing. Pay close attention to your Glassdoor page so candidates can gain a candid understanding of your workplace.
- Simplify: Streamline your application process and simplify your hiring process to move prospects along quickly. Be sure to test your online application process yourself from a candidate’s perspective.
- LinkedIn and Beyond:
This will be one of your most powerful tools, but only if you use it correctly. LinkedIn is a dynamic community of both active and passive jobseekers. But how you interact with them may change the outcome.
According to Social Talent, 81% of recruiters choose to send a LinkedIn “connect request” or InMail first to engage a passive candidate; but only 14% take the time to send an email, and only 5% try to reach out through a phone call. Utilize LinkedIn, but don’t be afraid to go beyond. Send personalized messages and follow up with other forms of communication.
Make sure your profile is professional, up-to-date and utilized regularly. Share articles and posts, especially ones that would apply to someone who may be looking for a new job.
- Meet Needs and Expectations: Give passive candidates a comprehensive view of what this job change will look like and what they can expect in the new position.
- Research: Gain an understanding of the candidate: their current position, their past positions, their passion projects, their volunteer work, etc. The more you know about them, the better you can understand them, their needs, and the potential impact on your organization.
Kelli Dobbins is a seasoned recruitment professional and a National Talent Engagement Manager at Roth Staffing Companies, the parent company of Ultimate Staffing Services. Roth just wrapped up its biggest hiring year in history, increasing headcount to its workforce by 20% year over year. Kelli has filled positions ranging from entry-level opportunities to leadership roles.
Here’s her advice on winning over passive candidates:
“Double down on the communication with candidates you are working with and stay in touch frequently (via phone, text and/or email).
“Take time to get to know who they are, what their future goals are and what is going to be important to them in a new role, rather than trying to sell them a specific opening we have right now. It’s much less transactional… and more of a process of building a relationship. I like to keep track of the passive candidates I speak to and remember to reach out quarterly, just so they know that I haven’t forgotten about them.”
- Maintain: Stay in touch with former employees. Send holiday cards and check in on LinkedIn. Not only can they become boomerang employees, they can provide referrals.
- Patience: Just because a candidate isn’t ready or available now, doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. Keep in contact without being overwhelming.
- Meeting Places: Passive candidates will likely not want their current employers to know they are looking. Allow for calls beyond 8-5 and meetings in less-public places.
- Diversity: Jobseekers use up to 16 sources in their job search, while passive jobseekers may use none. Advertise openings on non-job centric sites, like Facebook or Instagram, to attract those who are not frequently on LinkedIn. Diversify your platform search and presence, so you can find and be found.
Being recruited is flattering, so allow yourself to get involved in the excitement of the process. Passive candidates are an elusive entity and in hot demand. With a dedicated strategy, though, you can improve both your passive and active candidate prospects.
Although challenging for employers, a limited pool of candidates is a good thing. It means the economy is improving. Jobseekers now have more opportunities and you have the chance to be part of their journey. You can provide the dream job someone doesn’t know they’re looking for.