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Ensure a Positive Candidate Experience When Hiring Contingent Talent Remotely

As digitization, coupled with the global pandemic, propels contingent hiring online and with more individuals relying on employer reviewer sites to evaluate businesses, delivering a positive[...]

March 10, 2021

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Techniques to Actively Source Passive Candidates

Passive Recruiting Isn’t Passive

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.”

This quote, like so many coined by British writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton, was immensely popular with 19th-century readers. Forgiving Bulwer-Lytton this latter literary transgression, which even in his day must have seemed a bit lazy, the man was gifted with keen insight to the human condition. And with the condition of today’s labor market, particularly the drive to hone and innovate recruiting strategies for top talent, we’re taken with his observation on patience and the misunderstood nature of passive sourcing.

As the battle for exceptional talent intensifies, leading staffing professionals are deploying bolder and more creative candidate sourcing strategies. The concept of passive recruiting has been around for years, though it really hit its stride with the advent of social media. Current studies across the staffing industry indicate that anywhere from 77 percent to 92 percent of all agencies now utilize social networking sites as primary hiring tools, finding them especially effective for courting passive talent and creating virtual benches of prospective candidates.

Still others, such as Dr. John Sullivan, an internationally known HR thought-leader from Silicon Valley, are taking passive recruiting to the next level. Since 1999, Sullivan has been advocating a concept he calls “evergreen jobs. 

“Simply put, these are the one or two most critical corporate jobs where you literally continuously search and hire every more-than-qualified applicant who fits the culture in order to ensure that you always have enough talent in these critical positions,” Sullivan explains. 

He invokes the term “evergreen” as an allusion to the fact that these job orders remain open indefinitely. 

“Imagine if you were an NBA basketball team and LeBron James suddenly became available,” Sullivan says. “Would you hire him immediately, even if you didn’t have an open job or requisition? Of course you would. That’s the concept behind evergreen jobs.” 

Imperative positions in high-impact sectors such as technology and IT can benefit most from an evergreen program, Sullivan believes. He also emphasizes the need for the same solution in environments with historically high turnover rates: retail, call center and nursing, as a few examples. It’s a solid concept any organization can embrace. Yet to realize the full potential of an evergreen strategy, you’ll want to work with a leading-edge staffing partner skilled in the active, concentrated strength of passive recruiting.

Actively Recruiting Passive Candidates

Back in 2015, LinkedIn reported that 70 percent of its fully employed members identified themselves as passive candidates. “It seems to me that if you’re not an expert at recruiting this, you’re missing the 800-pound gorilla,” said Lou Adler, best-selling author on hiring tactics and CEO of The Adler Group.

The process of recruiting passive candidates poses significant challenges and has been the source of frustration for organizations uninitiated in the art. Capturing the interest of ideal yet passive candidates -- many of whom are currently employed -- requires piquing their attention, keeping them engaged and presenting an offer alluring enough to win them over without breaking the bank, besides other tips.

Success in online “cold calling” through social networks requires a great deal more than a fearless attitude, stamina and ability to post messages; it requires preparation, a deep understanding of branding and unparalleled expertise in the best practices of sourcing -- the world in which your staffing partners live and thrive. 

Staffing professionals know how to promote the job and convey its exceptional qualities. Top passive candidates aren’t necessarily looking for work, so the work must come across as intriguing and compelling as possible to sell the candidate on the job. Staffing experts are adept at creating performance profiles that define the job – its rewards, opportunities and challenges. 

Hiring managers no longer have the time to conduct exploratory interviews and pore over resumes. Performance profiles can be powerful tools that persuade hiring managers to interview select candidates who meet the listed requirements. Partnering with hiring managers in this way will also influence them to fight for the increased compensation needed to reel in a passive candidate on the hook. 

“Passive candidates will always check out the job posting once they decide to find out more,” Adler says. “That’s why the job posting itself must address the career-oriented mentality of the passive candidate.” Top passive candidates have no interest in “lateral promotions.” Leading staffing professionals understand how to transform job postings into career opportunities that play to the goal-oriented mindsets of passive candidates, enticing them to explore openings in greater depth.

Experienced staffing recruiters develop tailored and sequenced sourcing plans to maximize the quality of hires, reduce fill times and optimize costs, including the usage of job boards and recruiting marketplaces. They’re careful to refrain from divulging too many details about the job right away, and instead engage candidates to talk about their backgrounds, work experience and career goals first. Based on this approach, staffing professionals can quickly ascertain whether or not to pursue a candidate further.

The most successful recruiters won’t take “no” for an answer. They know that a candidate who expresses no interest in a position may still desire to pursue new opportunities. People can be reluctant to make long-term career decisions when speaking with a stranger. Recruiting experts excel at engaging people and imparting informed, professional and compelling messages to candidates. Additionally, recruiters keep conversations going by anticipating concerns and objections before candidates bring them up. The ability to provide rebuttals enhances the overall presentation, demonstrates knowledge and establishes trust in both the staffing firm and client company. 

Top people will remain actively engaged and will ultimately accept offers without large compensation packages if the job offers greater potential. Savvy staffing partners identify growth and advancement opportunities by using the information they glean from the candidate’s description of his or her background. 

Building a Team of All-Star Players

“If hiring great people is important to your company’s success, the process used to recruit passive candidates should become your company’s default method, not the exception,” Adler says. 

Engaging a skilled staffing partner can demystify the process and allow companies to build a virtual bench of all-stars to fill critical needs as they arise. Your staffing partners know how to instill knowledge and an accompanying sense of confidence in describing jobs to passive candidates. They understand the unique differences in sourcing, assessing, recruiting and hiring processes for this top talent. Passive candidate recruiting requires patience, finesse, expertise and a never-give-up attitude. It is not, by any means, a passive process.


Photo credit: -EMR- via Flickr

Casey Enstrom
Casey Enstrom
Casey is one of the staffing industry’s household names, specializing in sales and operations leadership. He brings extensive knowledge of business development and sales strategies, predictive analytics, leadership, and human capital solutions. Prior to Crowdstaffing, Casey served as the Vice President of Technical Sales, North America, for a Fortune 1000 staffing firm.
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