Attracting passive candidates – Why starting the engine takes the most fuel

Attracting passive candidates – Why starting the engine takes the most fuel

Attracting passive candidates – Why starting the engine takes the most fuel Despite how it seems, reaching out to the passive candidate isn’t some mystical art form or a result of some hidden knowledge passed on through the ages. The truth is that it is more about knowing the market, knowing the candidates, understanding what people want and, yes of course particularly on the part of the recruiter, a lot of very hard work.

What is a passive candidate?

Before we take a brief look at what helps to attract them, let’s just take a moment to remember who we are talking about and why they are important. The passive candidate is, for want of a better description, someone who, at the point of you instigating your search for a suitable person for a role, has no real interest in taking it. Usually, they have a job and are not actively looking to leave it. This is an oversimplification, however. There is an additional factor to remember, which is that they can also be categorised as having desired skills or experience for a specific job. The passive candidate, therefore, has value to a business because not only do they fill a hole in the team, they also meet the needs of the employer to a very high level of specification. They are valuable because they have skills that will add value to a business. To achieve this, the employee has certainly gathered a lot of experience at a minimum, and most likely a mixture of job knowledge and high levels of training or education. For the candidate then, this is a career they have been building specifically to make themselves valuable to an employer. If you put that into the context of the statement that they have no desire to move to a new role you immediately begin to see a dichotomy.

In other words, it just doesn’t add up that someone who has worked so hard to be valuable does not now want to maximise on that work. We should probably more accurately say that a passive candidate is someone who does not yet know that a more appropriate role is available. They only do not want to change because they are not aware of the potential for the change to happen.

Keeping a team member once they are in a job they feel good about and that meets their needs is a relatively easy business. Getting someone to recognise the potential career gains in your job offer is considerably harder in that it takes more energy and effort. Just like starting a car engine, once it is idling it will tick over quite nicely. Getting that engine started, though, requires a big kick of power from a battery and lot of combustion and fuel. The engine will only start if it gets the input it needs to make it work.

Attracting a passive candidate

If you are a potential employer who is in need of candidates with specific skills, we are more than happy to look at sourcing and introducing them to you. An effective search is a collaboration where we will need to be able to offer a competitive package with specific motivators. These can be surprisingly small things such as location or perks. You will need to reach out to the market with a strong employer brand that matches not just the role (they probably already have that) but the ethos and story of your business. The introduction process needs to show you, not just in your best light, but in a way that reaches out to them on a personal level. The passive candidate does not really care too much about a few pounds more; they need motivating to move to a better life, not a slightly higher wage.

To attract a passive candidate, we need to work together to present them with a proposal for exciting, career-focused, lifestyle-enhancing change. If we present them with that opportunity and they still do not want it, then frankly, they were probably not right anyway. We need to look at what motivates people to leave and put that into a focused approach to finding the right person for your business.


Why not call us and we will chat through the options for a passive candidate strategy. Once we have that in place, everyone here will get down to the hard work of matching, sourcing, filtering, refining, and introducing you to your next great team member.


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