Sometimes your best candidates are already employed. Persuading them to make a career move can be tough, but it’s not impossible.
Passive candidates are highly qualified individuals who aren’t actively looking for a new job, but might consider a change for the right opportunity. Recruiting them takes finesse, as their motivation differs from that of active job-seekers.
With passive candidates, you have to polish your power of persuasion as well as your sales skills since they may not be very familiar with your company. Here are some tips to help you build relationships with passive candidates and convince them to consider a new career with your company.
Make them want to work for you.
More so than with active candidates, passive candidates want to know, “What’s in it for me?” A well-developed employer brand can answer this and may provide the push passive candidates need to consider making a change.
An employer brand refers to the reputation and image your company has in the marketplace. It’s typically what attracts – or repels – potential job candidates.
Your brand’s message should speak to your company’s values and culture. For example, if your company puts a lot of value on innovation, your brand needs to reflect that. Highlight ways in which you foster this innovation. How do you promote creativity in the workplace? What kind of recognition or rewards do your thought-leaders receive? What does management do to gather employees’ input?
If you want to earn buy-in from passive candidates, you need to show them that your company is their ideal workplace. A dynamic employment brand can help persuade them to take the leap.
Give them what they’re not getting from their current employer.
It’s human nature to want what you can’t have. Sometimes the most effective way to win over passive candidates is to play off the weaknesses of their current employer.
Study the company he or she is working for, including the culture, work environment, salary, benefits and growth opportunities, says Rivas. Find out where that company falls short. When you talk to the candidate, you can emphasize how your company can fill in these gaps.
For example, if you’re recruiting a candidate who works at a company that’s known for its dull work environment, talk about what your company does to foster a lively culture, such as team-building and volunteerism activities you host. This may be the missing link in your candidates’ career and it could have the power to turn their “no” into a “yes.”
Write emails that get to the point.
It’s easy to fire off an email to potential candidates. The tough part is getting them to read it. Lengthy or convoluted messages will likely end up in the trash. To get candidates to read your emails, keep it short and simple.
With a constant flood of emails pouring in every day, passive candidates are more likely to read messages they can quickly skim versus something that looks like a short novel.
When writing emails to candidates, your subject line should be no longer than 35 characters and the body of the email should be no more than four to six sentences.
It may take some time to fashion a strong and concise message. But when you find something that works, save it and reuse it when contacting other candidates.
Keep it conversational.
When you first call a passive candidate, the worst thing you can do is start rattling off a job description. If you come on too strong, you’re probably going to get the cold shoulder.
While you want to be honest and forthcoming about why you’re calling, don’t just jump into your pitch. Start by mentioning something you know about them, such as something unique about their professional background or even a hobby they listed on their online profile. This shows the candidate that you’ve done your research and they’re not just another name you drew out of a hat.
Take some time to get to know the candidate before you delve into the details of the job. Let the candidate do most of the talking. You’ll likely discover what motivates them, what they like about their job, as well as what they dislike. You can use this information to guide your conversation and explain why your company is a good fit.
Move things along.
When a candidate shows interest in a position, you’ll need to act quickly since they may not necessarily need the job. This may entail working around their schedule.
If they reach out to you, be prepared to take action right away before they lose interest or second guess their decision. Don’t wait for candidates to set up a meeting. Take the initiative; try to get on their calendar within days of your phone call.
If the candidate seems to be a good fit, keep the process moving. Make arrangements for follow-up interviews and assessments as soon as possible.
Regardless of how great a candidate seems to be, follow your normal screening and hiring process, including performing a background check. Skipping these steps could put your business at risk.
If they say no, keep the door open.
Don’t throw in the towel when candidates say they’re not interested. They may just need a little more coaxing. Start by asking them why they are not interested. It may just be that there is a misunderstanding or that they have some questions. With a little more conversation, you may be able to ease their concerns.
But be careful not to be too pushy. This will only make candidates more resistant. If all else fails, at least give candidates your contact information and ask them to connect with you on a social media site, such as Twitter or LinkedIn. If they agree to connect with you, foster this relationship and stay at the forefront of their mind by maintaining an active social media presence. When there’s an opportunity, participate in online conversations with them.
Be patient. They may just need some time to mull it over. If nothing else, in time, he or she may lead you to another individual who is equally qualified.
Alaina Rivas has over nine years of recruiting experience and is currently the Director, Sourcing Services at Insperity. Her focus is in recruitment talent identification, recruitment advertising, marketing and branding methods. This enables her to find the best talent using the latest recruitment strategies, talent attraction methods and technologies. She holds a B.S. in Management, Human Resources from the University of New Orleans.