How to win over passive candidates and not turn them off (part 1)

What is a passive candidate? For me, it refers to someone who is NOT expecting a call in relation to a position.
Engaging these candidates is the most exciting part of any recruitment assignment in my opinion. Not only will you get to market test your skills and methodology on the job you are filling, talking to these candidates gives you instant feedback that may leave you pleasantly surprised (or otherwise). You just don’t really know what to expect.
So how can we excel in what I describe as the “We Find You” approach? In this part 1 of 2 series, I’ll outline the initial steps we should be taking before we start engaging passive candidates, based on my experience over the years.

1. Talking to the Hiring Manager to build a Candidate Success Profile

Just like an iceberg where 90 percent of its mass lie beneath the water, I spend most of my time preparing myself for the assignment as opposed sticking my head out immediately into the candidate market.
In every case it is essential to speak to the Hiring Manager and his/her team to find out their benchmark of a person who would excel in the role and the type of people who may be trained to undertake the position. During this process, I’ll also get them to consider high performers they know or have worked with in the past so I can better understand what they are looking for.
Some of the questions I would ask include:

  • Who is the best person that you have worked with in this position?
  • Who do you know of in the industry that would be amazing in this position?
  • If you could get a person and had no restrictions at all, who would that be?

In addition, chatting with the Hiring Manager will also help you spot bias within the hiring processes so that you can work together to correct them.
My mantra #1 is – “I need to know how you will know”. It is ok if they are unable to provide you with a clear direction initially, but what you will get are ideas that will help guide you along and provide you the direction you need as the assignment progresses.

2. Eliciting an authentic candidate value proposition

Understanding why a person would want this job is a huge clue to the type of person who would be successful.
The candidate value proposition will be both tangible and intangible:

  • Tangible is always easy to define and measure and includes items such as remuneration, career path, location, travel time, training and benefits.
  • Intangible includes brand, culture, team environment, work-life balance, leadership style and so on.

When I learned to recruit, we termed this “Benefit to Need”. The candidate must gain a benefit from taking the position and they must be also able to fill the organisation’s needs. If there is a neutral or, at worst, a negative “Benefit to Need”, there is a strong chance the employee will leave for something else that suits their needs better. This match is really critical in a skill short market and is often overlooked.

3. Gaining internal and external market intelligence

Not many people do this typically but this is crucial if you want to know how the value proposition of your role is stacking up against similar offers in the market. This market intelligence when consolidated is vital feedback to share with all stakeholders.
A simple search on job boards such as SEEK, Indeed and LinkedIn will enable you to find out the number of similar positions in the market, companies who are hiring, remuneration packages and locations.
Conducting further analyses using SEEK’s Talent Search and LinkedIn Recruiter will provide information on numbers of potential candidates with similar skill match, location and a remuneration range. Looking at salary surveys will also provide you with a good idea on how competitive your salary packages are.
Based on this picture, it is critical you look at your Position Brief and assess your chance of success. Briefing your Hiring Manager and their team will engage them and enable you to tweak the position brief, if required, to ensure you maxmise your chances of success.
Next week, I will go into the actual workings on how you can source, reach out and engage passive candidates. Stay tuned.
Cover image: Shutterstock

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