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"Passive" Job Candidates Can Be a Great Catch

Passive job candidates aren't lazy. They're just people who aren't actively looking for work because they're happy where they are. But that doesn't mean they might not be even happier working for you. You might assume luring people to join your team would require you to give them a hefty raise, but that's not necessarily true. This article looks at why you might want to go fishing in the passive candidate pond and suggests some ideas for creating effective bait.

Why Go Fishing?

If you're able to meet your staffing needs with traditional recruiting strategies in today's low unemployment environment, that's great. But are you really getting the best people? Even when more active job-seekers are available, you might want to pursue passive candidates as well.

After all, someone who's not out looking for a job probably already works for an employer who considers him or her talented enough to retain and keep happy. And he or she is probably too busy being productive to job hunt anyway. Doesn't that sound like just the kind of person you'd like to have working for you?

Fill Your Tackle Box

Professional recruiters suggest a broad array of tactics that, over time, will enable you to lure passive candidates to your organization. Think of it as your tackle box. The first step is to lay the groundwork so when you reach out to a passive candidate there's a good chance the person already knows something about your company — and has a good impression of it. In today's social-media-centric world, this means building up your online presence.

Make sure your website is optimized for search engines and includes a robust "careers" section. Next, if you haven't already, start producing blogs of potential interest to the kind of people you'd like on your team and promote them on social media. Some blog posts should cover topics demonstrating your company's thought leadership in its field; others might highlight innovative policies that make your business a great place to work. Get input from your top employees about professional subjects that interest them, and possibly have them contribute to your blogs.

People often blog or create social media accounts just to make themselves known to prospective employers, should they decide they're ready for a change. You can also follow, like or connect with them, depending on the platforms they use, to call their attention to your company.

Other Spots To Consider

Of course, social media isn't the only body of water in which to cast your line. If you aren't already, become engaged in your local community, as well as in trade organizations. Try to land a speaking slot at an industry event. Recruiting passive job candidates isn't a job for introverts.

You might also be able to look no further than your own workforce. In fact, your existing employees may be your best lures. Offer them meaningful incentives to recommend friends and acquaintances if you end up hiring someone your employee brought to your attention.

What about your own contacts? You might not have considered your circle of friends or business contacts as a conduit to fresh talent. But remember, you're not trying to sell them something — only give them an opportunity to potentially do a favor for someone else.

Other options include Google, which has the capacity to deliver up relevant resumes if you learn how to narrowly target what you're looking for. In addition, you can do a search for "Facebook recruiting" for pointers on finding the right people on that very popular social media platform. And don't overlook LinkedIn's "Talent Solutions," which has a lot of information you may be able to use.

Reel Them in Gently

When you ultimately connect with people you might like to hire — but who aren't technically in the job market — don't immediately launch into a recruitment pitch. Doing so could elicit a curt "I'm not looking for a job" response. Rather, indicate you're trying to get to know people who might, in the future, be interested in joining your team. That way they don't feel forced to react.

Provide them with information that might be of value to them, so it's not a one-way conversation. Perhaps talk about an industry or technology trend that pertains to that passive candidate's field.

Your goal is to learn not only about whether the individual would be a good fit for your organization, but also what motivates him or her. What are his or her career aspirations and the facets of an employment opportunity that would make it most attractive? Compensation is important, but it's not always top of the list.

You can also seize the opportunity to ask people whether they know of anyone they could recommend who might be interested in seeking a job with you.

Hook, Line and Sinker

If the conversation is low-key and interesting enough, a prospect will probably be amenable to staying in touch. That way you can check back later to see whether anything has changed. You might even be pleasantly surprised to find the person reaching out to you, or maybe not. Either way, in a tight job market, enticing good workers hook, line and sinker requires frequent fishing expeditions that include efforts to net passive job candidates.