passive candidate looking at her computer thinking about a new job

3 Simple Ways to Attract Passive Candidates

When you have a hard-to-fill position open on your team, recruiting can feel like finding a needle in a haystack these days. And you’re not alone – with only 1.3 unemployed persons per job opening as of February 2017, the competition for talent is fierce. Focusing your efforts on active job seekers alone won’t cut it anymore. You have to recruit passive candidates as well.

The perfect hire for your open position may already be working and content in their current role – in other words, they’re a passive job seeker. Learning how to attract passive candidates takes extra work, but it’s not impossible. Here are three ways you can tap into this unique job seeker pool, successfully recruit passive candidates, and find the right hire for your company.


Use Multiple Channels

Searching a resume database is a great way to find potential hires without waiting for them to come to you. You can home in on the exact skills, experience, education, credentials, etc. that you’re looking for and contact qualified talent as soon as you see a match. The catch? Not all job seekers opt to post a publically available or searchable resume.

For example, a passive job seeker may not want their resume searchable for a number of reasons:

  • They don’t want their current employer to stumble across their resume and assume they’re preparing to leave.
  • They don’t want a barrage of calls from recruiters for positions they aren’t interested in.
  • They want complete control over their job search and have their eye out for a very specific “dream job.”

In addition to searching resume databases, consider also posting your open position on a job board. Passive job seekers may occasionally peruse their favorite job board or set up email alerts just to see what’s out there. They can’t apply to your job if they don’t know it exists. passive candidate at her computer looking at job listings

Also, don’t forget about another awesome source of new hires: referrals! Referrals are known to be faster and less expensive hires and have higher retention, morale, and performance.

Let your current team members know that you’re hiring. Your employees can connect you with potential candidates that aren’t even casually searching for a job and otherwise would have no idea that you’re looking for someone like them.


Write an Irresistible Job Ad

Convincing a passive candidate to consider leaving their current position and applying for your job will take effort. You must write an effective job ad that sells the position AND your company. Changing jobs is a major life decision. If a passive candidate isn’t convinced that your job is their dream job and your company is their dream employer, they won’t apply.

Here are some quick tips on how to write a job ad that works for active as well as passive candidates:

  • Write an ad that isn’t overwhelmingly long but also not mysteriously short.
  • Ensure it’s clear what the person will be doing in the role, whom they’ll be working with, and what contributions they’ll be able to make.
  • Include details about your unique company culture and benefits.
  • Use friendly language and personal pronouns – “You will manage challenging yet rewarding projects” vs. “The candidate will manage projects,” for example.


Leave Compelling Voicemails

Once you have the resume of a qualified passive candidate in hand, don’t assume you’ve won the battle just yet. There’s one more thing to know about how to attract passive candidates: getting them to talk to you.

passive candidate talking on the phone with a prospective employerIt may be difficult to successfully connect with that candidate, and more than likely you’ll be leaving voicemails for these individuals who are at work and/or reluctant to answer calls from unknown numbers.

“I found your resume and would like to chat with you about an opportunity at our company!” won’t do the trick with passive job seekers. Keep it brief, but just as with your job ad, be sure to effectively sell the open position and your company to the candidate. Think of your voicemail as a 30-second elevator pitch.

Also, be personal: mention specific things about the job seeker’s background that interest you and would make them a great fit. Convey genuine excitement about the possibility of them joining your team!


Passive candidates can be elusive and extremely picky, but they are reachable with the right strategies. Follow the tips outlined above and you’ll be well on your way to attracting passive candidates and finding the perfect hire for your open position.

by: Natalie Winzer, iHire
July 18, 2017