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Thought Leadership

How to Rock a Passive Candidate Sourcing Strategy

Want an effective way to engage passive candidates? Then consider following these tips.  

Friday, February 9, 2018
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Description generated with very high confidenceGiven the candidate shortage in many industries today such as healthcare, technology and retail, the need to create candidate pools long before a position becomes open is critical. In fact, Bersin's high Impact Talent Acquisition research indicates that candidate pool development is the second most influential driver of talent acquisition performance.  

So why are so many organizations still struggling to incorporate this into their overall strategy? The bottom line is that having a passive candidate strategy takes time. While talent acquisition departments continue to be stretched thin, the time is now to develop your passive candidate strategy. Here are some tips for getting started:


Don't boil the ocean. Ensure you are regularly meeting with your business leaders to understand the key critical positions for the organization. Start your passive candidate strategy with the critical positions that will add the most value to the organization's bottom line.  


Be sure you understand where to look and go where your candidates are active. With all the avenues of social media today, you can research and uncover literally billions of candidates utilizing sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to integrate other underutilized social media sites such as Instagram and Snapchat. Domino's Pizza leveraged the power of Facebook (through its partnership with Work4), to reach millions of restaurant workers who were targeted to their specific demographics. With social media, one thing to keep in mind is that some types of candidates, such as mechanics, don't necessarily visit these sites regularly and require other tactics. 


Have a way, whether formal or informal, for systematically reaching out to these candidates. Today there are a plethora of recruitment marketing systems that will help you to define campaigns, automatically connect with your candidate pools and create awareness of your organization, its culture and open positions. If you don't have one of these systems, don't be afraid to keep it simple. Make sure to track specifics of the conversation you have with a candidate so they can be utilized in follow-up conversations. The more personalized you can make the experience, the better. The goal is to ensure you stay in touch with those valuable passive candidates that you've taken the time to research and find. CDW, a $12-billion provider of integrated information technology services, recognized the need for this strategy when it began to retool for growth. The company needed to improve the way it sourced talent before they applied to positions. The HR department sought out a technology that would help them keep in touch with these prospective, passive candidates. The end result was that they selected Smashfly, which integrated with their ATS, Taleo, and implemented it within four months, allowing them to track and easily interact with their passive candidates.


Set a goal and measure yourself. Recruiting in this way is like sales. It will require you to talk with several candidates before you get one interested in taking the next step. However, don't discount those in your pipeline who say they're not interested. Ensure you continue to stay in touch, because timing is everything.  


A typical strategy will take at least six months to a year before it bears the fruits of passive candidates. This also depends on how much time you're willing to dedicate to this strategy. We recommend dedicating one sourcer/researcher to every three to four recruiters in mid-size to enterprise organizations. If your organization is small and recruiters wear many hats, try dedicating a percentage of time every day to researching where your best passive candidates work.


Remember that not all sources cost money -- just time. Research what associations and conferences your candidates attend and meet up with them live. Even though we're living in the digital age, there are many positives to a traditional face to face meeting. If it's not a conference that you would typically attend, reach out to your hiring manager to meet up with the candidate. Candidates will love to learn directly from hiring managers what it's like to work in their area of expertise. 


Work with your hiring manager and HR business partners to identify alumni and stay in contact with previous employees. Given that 20 percent of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment, often times keeping up with previous employees who thought the grass might be greener with another organization can produce the boomerang effect and convince them to return.


Promote your employee referral program vigorously. It's a great way to uncover candidates who would be open to a conversation even if they're not actively seeking employment. It's been proven time and again that employees who are referred are better producers, learn faster and have a higher retention rate than those from other sources. 

Kim McDonald is vice president for client services at Talent Growth Advisors.

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