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Motivating A Passive Candidate: 4 Steps to Turning a Recruiting Nightmare into a Dream

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Kurt Jones
on May 09, 2016

When I was a recruiter my area of focus was sourcing software engineers. The market I worked, Boston, was experiencing a huge growth in start-up companies working on some of the coolest ideas coming out of places like MIT, Harvard, and other start-up incubators. Funding was readily available and companies were growing faster than the availability of talented engineers. It was in this frenzy that I learned my hardest recruiting lessons. The most significant lesson was that I would fail unless I learned to find, connect with, and motivate passive candidates. There were some sleepless nights but, all things considered, I came away with some strategies that led to wins that are worth sharing and are applicable in today’s improving economy and comparable job market.

Before you start reaching out to candidates, know what your company culture, environment, and style are.  The first step to understanding whom to target is to understand what your company offers a candidate. I’m not just talking about what you offer financially, although that is important later in the process. Know what career growth opportunity you offer. Know what is exciting/challenging about the work the candidate will be doing in this specific role. What type of person would be best suited for the work that role is responsible for? What type of person would culturally fit best with the team they would be working with? The answers will point you toward the right candidates.

Don’t just think about the culture you foster inside of the building, either. Other factors like location and geography can affect fit. For example, an early stage start-up located in incubator space in the city may appeal to one candidate, while a larger, more established firm in the suburbs may be the better fit for another candidate. Based on where your organization fits, build out a profile of a target prospect. Once you have that, it’s time to start hunting/motivating/engaging/insert your favorite recruiting metaphor here. Here are some ideas on how to get the conversation started:

Start with the people you know

Your existing database is a gold mine of prospects that your organization has been building for years. Better yet, the contacts in your existing database have already expressed interest in your organization at some point in the past. The deeper you can dive into your existing contacts, the more complex your search capabilities, the more success you will have in finding strong candidates who will take your call or respond to your outreach via e-mail or social channels. Make sure your organization has an ATS system that allows you to mine your database quickly and easily.

Ask the question to everyone

Every good recruiter should ask everyone they meet, “Who is the best {insert job function} you’ve ever worked with?” Imagine starting a cold call to that prospect by telling them they were considered one of the best Engineers/Analysts/Executives your mutual contact had ever worked with. That opening line might just get you an additional minute over the phone to start to build a case for considering your opportunity. If the prospect is not open to a change at this time, you may entice them to make an introduction to a contact that could potentially be a fit. At minimum, you will have broadened your network and began the relationship building process that could payoff with a future opportunity.

Get out of the office

Assuming you are not chained to your desk, although it may feel like it some days, get out to the places where your best prospects are. In my time working with software engineers, networking group meetings were happening every week. With the explosion of new technologies, new programming languages and tools, many engineers were using meet-up groups as a way to learn and explore cool new ideas that they didn’t have exposure to in their day-to-day jobs. These events were a great way to network and informally build relationships that would later translate to specific conversations about job opportunities. These events will often produce the best candidates, those who are investing their own time to advance their careers.  In addition, speaking at industry events is a great way to showcase your organization, your expertise, and provide another non-traditional way to network with potential prospects. Everyone you meet provides an opportunity, make sure you are expanding your network constantly, and try doing some of it outside the office.

The Power of Video

Read any research, blog, or demographic trends and you will be inundated with statistics about what makes the millennial generation tick. They are the digital generation and video and social are a big part of their everyday lives. Video is a powerful tool and can tell an engaging story. Even more powerful is that you can reach many more prospects with video than you can possibly reach on your own. How can you best use video to motivate a passive or luke-warm candidate? Consider some of these options:

  • Corporate Vision/Values Video: If your organization has a powerful culture and/or your vision is industry leading, your web site and career portal should showcase that with a powerful video demonstrating what makes you great.
  • Employee Testimonials: Nothing is more valuable and insightful than an existing employee, or group of employees, sharing their story and why they love coming to work every day. Making a personal connection can help inspire a passive candidate to look deeper into open positions at your company.
  • Video Job Descriptions: Imagine being able to learn about a specific role directly from the Hiring Manager and your future boss. Additionally, wouldn’t it be great to meet, through video, some of the colleagues you would be working with on your team. Video provides a uniquely powerful way to bring a role to life and give a prospect a look inside their day-to-day experience working on a specific team in your organization.

All of these video options can be delivered via your web site, career portal, as well as sent through social channels to incrementally expand the audience for your message.

Motivating passive candidates and building your network are pieces of a successful sourcing strategy. The more robust the job market, and the more competition for top candidates, the more important it is that you make a stronger effort to engage passive candidates.

PeopleFluent’s Recruiting Solution has incorporated many sourcing strategies into our technology to help make attracting candidates simpler and faster. Let us show you how to build and execute a powerful sourcing and recruiting strategy; join us for a demo of our award-winning solution, and learn how we can empower you to source and engage top talent.









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