I Found My Passive Candidates – Now What?

I Found My Passive Candidates – Now What?

In the world of recruitment, there is so much talk about finding those elusive passive candidates. Where are they? How long have they been in their current positions? What qualifications do they have? How do I access their contact info? The one thing that is often missing from these conversations is what to do once you find them.

Once the research is complete and you’ve compiled your targeted passive talent list, you need to get their attention and sway them to uproot their career and join your team. You’ve found your passive candidates — now what? The most ideal passive candidates seem almost unattainable and settled in their current position. So it takes a strong pitch and serious convincing to get talent interested enough to make a change. The odds are stacked against you! 70% of the global workforce are passive candidates. But, that’s not to say they’re ready for any opportunity that comes their way.

Try out these tactics to grab the attention of your list of passive talent.

Use Social Media

LinkedIn is often the go-to tool for recruiters. It’s probably the easiest way to get in contact with desirable candidates without seeming too forward. Plus, your connections can build a candidate pipeline of sorts. Whether you’re building a network for a specific open role or just for future openings, LinkedIn is the usual way recruiters connect with passive candidates.

The truth is, the most desirable talent likely receives their fair share of InMail. To really stand out to passive talent, casually reach out on other forms of social media. A quick DM on Twitter can let them know about the open position without coming on too strong. Keep it casual to match the Twitter format and let them know what caught your attention and why you’re reaching out.

Ask Questions

Don’t get too excited and scare off your passive candidates with your first engagement. While having a list of qualified passive candidates is exciting, you don’t want to come off too strong and tell them too much too soon. Just like a first date — ask questions about them! Asking questions, even rhetorical ones, is an easy way to build rapport and build a connection before making your pitch.

Direct the conversation to open-ended questions like:

  • What would you change about your current position?
  • If you could work fewer hours in a day, what would you do with your free time?
  • What opportunities for growth do you have in your current role?

Then, so the conversation doesn’t dwindle, ask questions with two options for the next steps.

  • Would you be free for a call tonight at 5:30 pm, or would tomorrow morning at 10 am work better?
  • What would be your preferred environment for a meeting? A Zoom call over lunch or a coffee shop meeting in the evening?

Keep It Simple

There’s no reason to try to show off. Speak simply and casually, so your message (whether through social media, email, or otherwise) will be easier to process and easier to persuade them to agree with you.

Attention spans are low, especially for highly desirable passive candidates. If they’re satisfied in their current roles, an email about a new position may not stand out in their day. If they peruse their emails to find an overbearing pitch the length of a novel, they likely won’t bother to read it. One study found that the sweet spot for email length is between 50-125 words, all of which yielded response rates of 50% and above.


In your pitch, be sure to use candidate-centric and personalized language like “You,” “Your,” and “Yours” and close with a specific call-to-action, i.e., asking for a time to chat. Mass mailing your passive candidate list with the same generic message while just changing the first name won’t do you any favors.

If you want to really capture their attention, you’re going to have to prove you’ve done your research and genuinely think that they would be suitable for the role. By mentioning something specific that you have read on their profile or by referring to a mutual connection, you will have a much better chance of gaining their attention and trust.

Find The Talent

Lamenting over how you’ll appeal to qualified passive talent is a good problem to have. Many recruiters struggle with finding the talent they need before they even consider how they will approach them. Leveraging the right tech and expertise can give you a leg up in this process.

This article was originally published on the IQTalent Partners blog.

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