What Is A Passive Candidate?

updated on 5 September 2022

Are passive candidates a part of your talent acquisition strategy? If not, they probably should be. If you aren’t up to speed on what they are and why they’re so important, we’ve got you covered.

The idea of hiring passive candidates isn’t a new concept. Before online advertising and digital job boards, companies and recruiters often found employees through word-of-mouth and referrals, and seeking out passive candidates is still a huge part of recruitment to this day. Today we’re talking all about passive candidates and why they’re such a great option when looking to recruit tech talent.

What is a passive candidate?

A passive candidate is someone who hasn’t been applying for jobs and isn’t looking for one but employers and recruiters like their skillset and want to onboard them. The fact they already have a job doing something the same or very similar to what you’re offering is like a pre-vet on their talent because they wouldn’t have the job if they weren’t good enough to do it.

Benefits of Passive Candidates

Passive candidates offer some particular advantages over their active counterparts. For many freelance recruiters and smaller agencies who have to focus on quality over quantity due to their scale, knowing when to seek out passive candidates can be a really important decision in trying to meet a Client’s goals.

Supporting Employer Branding

Your employer branding will benefit from the relationships you develop with passive job seekers. Maintaining connections, over time, will help you grow your referral network and your talent pools. This naturally strengthens your employer brand and visibility, helping you to secure additional talent in the future.

Wider Talent Pool

Passive candidates, according to a study from LinkedIn, actually represent 70% of all employees worldwide so they’re a huge potential group for companies and recruiters alike. That means you’re more likely to find exactly what you’re looking for in a pool of passive candidates than you are in those who actively apply for advertised positions.

Fewer Competitors

The passive prospect generally isn’t interviewing with anybody else and is unlikely to drop out of the recruitment process to take another job offer. They’re applying because your proposition entices them to leave their existing job and that means they’ll likely work with you above anyone else.

How To Hire Passive Candidates

As with anything there is no one size fits all, but there are some more effective ways to successfully onboard passive candidates.

  • Don’t bother with job boards, passive candidates aren’t there. Find the people you need by looking where they are – like speaking directly to them on socials such as LinkedIn
  • Communicate in a way that puts them at the center of the conversation. Don’t focus on what you need, focus on what they’re looking for
  • Give them what they’re not already getting. This could be pay, benefits, flexible working, opportunities for progression, or improved company culture
  • Work with niche recruiters who have built a talent network and know exactly what candidates in their networks would be open to