Recruiting Passive Candidates during an IT Talent Shortage

May 22, 2018

Recruiting Passive Candidates during an IT Talent Shortage

Group Of Diverse People Waiting For Job Interview In Office


How do you attract and hire a perfect candidate who isn’t actively looking for new work? That question has become an all too common one. At least 60% of the talent pool consists of passive candidates, but much of that potential workforce has developed a callus from endless bad offers rubbing them the wrong way. More than ever, IT professionals need to be approached with finesse, slowly building trust in your business and enthusiasm for your opportunities.

Recruiting passive candidates is the most tactical way to secure the best talent in the current market but requires a shift in mindset to be successful. Here’s how your business can make momentous change in the effectiveness of your hiring process – and how working with a staffing provider can enhance your talent acquisition.

Maintaining the Flow of Your Pipeline

How reactive has your business been in recruiting tech talent? Traditionally, the talent pipeline has been treated like a spigot that can be turned on or off without impacting flow. When top IT talent is out in droves, businesses can get away with only periodically sourcing but not when the majority of the talent pool has gone on a job search hiatus. Those conditions require a hiring process that keeps the pipeline full and ready to tap at a moment’s notice, whether you are hiring a single IT consultant or an entire team.

Passive candidate sourcing depends on long-term relationship building. Talent acquisition needs to be systematic from the start. Identify promising candidates on LinkedIn, those who appear to be technical and cultural fits, and begin the outreach process to that group. Making connections with as many candidates as possible hedges your bets, increasing the odds that several prospects will be available when you hire next.

How do you kick off the conversation? Discuss candidates’ careers rather than the opportunity. Focus on their growth and objectives rather than what candidates will do for you. Passive candidates are used to being treated as a means to an end; respect them as a worthwhile connection, and their skepticism is more likely to diminish.

Building trust this way can take considerable time and effort, especially when you are reaching out to a multitude of candidates and duplicating long-term interactions. Staffing firms have the time to cultivate these relationships and track when candidates are available, making them indispensable for a single hire or contingent workforce management.

Making Your Messaging Pull Triple Duty (Or More)

Recruiting passive candidates is all about sending a strong and consistent message – our company is the right place for top talent – yet that message will not sink in on the first attempt. Communicating with passive candidates requires multiple touch points to even make a dent. Rather than running your team ragged making direct calls or emails, you can focus your efforts on crafting messages that reach multiple candidates, minimizing their exertion and lowering hiring costs.

Your message needs to stick in a passive candidate’s head like an earworm – no matter where they go, your company continues to catch their attention. When they’ve had a rough day on the job, your business comes to mind as an alternative workplace. When they are enhancing their skillset, your company is on a mental shortlist of places they could use those new skills. In this case, the quantity of messages can be just as important as the quality, and there are a few ways digital media can help make your company front-of-mind in a candidate’s head:

Content – Building trust requires your business to back up your conversations in more ways than one. Original content boosts your authority, showing passive candidates your team consists of thought leaders and subject matter experts with unique perspectives and great experience to learn from. Even community engagement and culture posts reinforce that your company is more than just another place to work. For example, our team creates content that is valuable for passive candidates to apply in their careers, in addition to blogs that keep our recruiters in their sphere of awareness.

Social media – As many as 70% of companies use social media to screen candidates, but it can be used to attract them as well. Use your whole team to share original or curated content. Promote your culture with eye-catching posts. Get your team active in groups, even if they are just weighing in on the conversation. Regular posts make your company more visible and keep you in a candidate’s feed. Having a staffing firm involved in this process is equally helpful, because recruiters can dedicate their time to communicating with passive candidates through as many channels as possible.

Using a Staffing Firm when Recruiting Passive Candidates

Though all of these passive recruiting practices are effective in relationship building, they can take time away from the primary focus of your business. Who has the time to maintain a pipeline across multiple channels and successfully achieve their business goals?

Working with a staffing firm can help to engage passive candidates long before a role opens and funnel high-quality professionals into your interview process. That way, you get all the benefit of that upfront work without having to break your back building an intricate web of relationships.

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