Recruiting passive candidates: the talent nobody is reaching for

Yuma Heymans
3 min readOct 19, 2021

70% of the workforce is passive talent. They are not looking for a job, but the absolute majority of them is open to offers. This is how to tap into the biggest and the most untapped pool of talent in the global market.

Passive candidate sourcing is recruiting for talent who have not indicated that they are open for a new job and are not applying for any jobs.

Where most recruiters focus on inbound candidates that applied to job posts, there are recruiters that choose to focus on passive candidate sourcing. And for good reason.

Why passive candidate sourcing is effective

Passive candidates make up the biggest talent pool

70% of the workforce is passive talent.

They are not actively looking for a job but are mostly open to discuss opportunities that are relevant for them.

83% of talent acquisition professionals see passive sourcing as an important source of hire and when they focus their efforts on passive sourcing 73% of them find higher quality candidates (source).

There is less competition for passive candidates

Because the majority of recruiters still rely on active candidate recruitment, the competition for passive candidates is less.

This enables you to source in a bigger talent pool and have less competition at the same time.

Matches are more accurate

With passive candidate sourcing you decide who to reach out to.

With active sourcing a lot of unqualified people apply to your job that you will have to screen. This creates a lot of noise and can be a big waste of your time.

On average, you will invite just 2% of candidates that applied to a job for a conversation. The other 98% you have to screen but will not lead to any next steps.

Quality of passive candidates is higher

Even if an active candidate seems to be the right candidate, they might not have the right reasons to apply for the job.

They might be laid off or desperate to find just any job to get out of the discomfort at their current job.

These cases sometimes only surface when you already hired them.

Passive candidates are usually of higher quality because if they show interest in your job, it is usually because they really like the job you’re offering. Otherwise there would not be a good reason to leave their current job.

There is more data than ever

On LinkedIn only there are already 700 million users. GitHub has 65 million, Xing 19 million, Stack Overflow 14 million, Kaggle 5 million, AngelList 2.5 million not even to mention Facebook, Dribble, Twitter, Reddit and all the other platforms.

This data and the access to it enables you to find passive candidates in a very efficient way.

How to recruit for passive candidates

Passive candidates are usually employed. So it requires the right strategy to win them for your company and job.

These principles will help you to recruit passive candidates.

Search for passive candidates on other platforms than LinkedIn

LinkedIn is flushed by recruiters searching for candidates, the competition…

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