Passive Candidate Recruiting in a Tight Labor Market

People are spending money and there’s lots of work keeping folks busy. On the flip side, there aren’t a lot of active job seekers out there to do the work.

Ed Hallen
November 13, 2019

The economy has been on a tear lately. People are spending money and there’s all kinds of work keeping folks busy.

On the flip side, there aren’t a whole lot of active job seekers out there to do the work. Unemployment sits just below 4% (and even lower in many U.S. cities). It doesn’t just feel like finding folks is tough, the data backs it up! Which leaves companies in a bit of a pickle: they have all kinds of business opportunities and work to do… but not enough people to do it.

It’s a great problem to have, for sure, but it’s still a problem because no one likes leaving money on the table. To solve it, start by acknowledging that even at 4% unemployment, the pool of potential hires really hasn’t changed.

“Passive” Candidates – the silent majority

The fact is that the 96% of the workforce that’s employed is still very recruitable. In a recent survey, LinkedIn found that 87% of the total workforce would consider a new job opportunity. It’ll come as no surprise to many employers that the average tenure at a company is decreasing as folks switch more often. People are just more willing to leave than they used to be.

On top of that, there are many great reasons to hire someone who is currently employed, as any hiring manager who screens for job experience can attest. But employers often find themselves only reaching the most active job seekers when they’re trying to fill jobs. And it makes sense, because until recently it hasn’t been feasible to effectively engage passive candidates unless you’re a professional recruiter.

Targeted Marketing isn’t just for sales

Smart business owners know that a nice company vehicle with a really slick logo wrap doesn’t just advertise to prospective clients, it advertises to prospective employees. Just like that fully-stocked work van or lifted Ford Raptor, other tools you use for marketing can also be used to generate job interest and convert passive candidates into active ones.

The fact is that your typical job marketing tools like job boards and classifieds don’t work on passive candidates because those tools are built to reach active job seekers. Passive job seekers behave differently. They won’t come to you, so you have to find a way get in front of them where they already are like that company truck. Just as targeted marketing on the internet and social media can drive traffic to your website and get you inbound leads, so can they generate interest from great job prospects who just don’t spend time combing through job listings.

If you find yourself wondering where all the good applicants went – they’re still there! You’re just looking in the wrong place. Instead of posting and praying for them to find you, try reaching them where they are.

Ways to Reach Passive Candidates

At Team Engine, we’re constantly experimenting with ways to proactively get in front of passive candidates. For a giant company like Walmart, this is easy – there’s a ton of people coming through their store every day, and everyone knows who they are. But for smaller companies, attracting passive job candidates doesn’t happen automatically.

A couple things that we’ve seen work:

  • Running ads on Facebook: While many companies have tried posting jobs on their Facebook pages, if you take this one step further and run actual advertisements targeted at people who are good fits with your job, you can reach people as their browsing Facebook in their free time who aren’t job-looking – but are excited by your job when they see it. At Team Engine, we help automate this process for companies by creating the ads, the targeting, optimizing the text, etc without you needing to lift a finger.
  • Encourage employee referrals: Your current employees can be one of your best sources of new job candidates. They have a deep understanding of the job and by recommending people they know for it, they’re putting their own credibility on the line (both to the person they recommend and to their boss). They also often reach out to people who aren’t necessarily job looking but who would view this opportunity as a step up.
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