Why passive candidates will not join your organisation

Picture this - The recruitment team sources a great candidate with just the right skills, experience and track record. You convince them for a discussion and, mid way through the entire process, you stop receiving responses. Did the job credentials not enthuse the candidate enough or was it more to do with the employer brand?

Chances are it could be both in equal measure.

If the candidate was not in the pile of active participants who applied for the job, they may require more than just the usual checklist to convince. according to research, 3 in 4 candidates present across search platforms are not looking for an immediate change.

Passive talent do not actively look for a job, but…

The good news is that even though passive candidates are happy with their jobs, they are still open to hearing from a corporate recruiter or a discussion on the opportunities ahead for them. The right recruiter can convince them to come to the discussion table to explore possibilities.

This however, can turn to not so good news if the organisation’s talent acquisition strategy aims to merely hire them, rather than recruit them. Passive candidates are more likely to say no to joining another organisation if their hiring team commits some glaring missteps.

The Mistake of the generic message

Passive candidates do not consider themselves as ‘anybody’ else in the market looking for jobs. Generic messages thus turn them off. An organisation’s recruitment strategy should know exactly what they want, why the passive candidate is the right fit, and what they can offer this extraordinary candidate.

Personalising the communication to tell them how they found them, why they are extraordinary and how their differentiated excellence can contribute to their organisation is vital.

The mistake of asking them to apply

Asking a passive candidate to apply is a sure recipe for hitting a roadblock in their hiring. Passive candidates are individuals who perhaps will not have updated resumes – they did not have the intention of joining another organisation in the first place. The very idea of going through a formal application process right at the start of the process can cause them to return to their comfort zone.

A brief and informal discussion with a senior manager who can convincingly and credibly address the candidate’s thoughts and queries on the organisation, the work it does, how they will fit in and grow is the next right step. At this stage passive candidates are not ready to interview but are interested to network.

The mistake of not exciting them enough

The passive candidate is looking for opportunities, not for a job description. The key message, here, lies in spelling out what is in it for them. Passive candidates are sourced with great effort. An equally extensive homework is needed to research their background. What exciting opportunities could they be looking for? The hiring team should look at leveraging this knowledge to show the passive candidate the aspects of the opportunity that ties in with their expectations.

The passive candidate will look for additional and related information about the organisation and its culture that reinforces the recruiter’s claim of opportunity ahead. Providing them such information will open their thinking positively to consider joining the company.

The mistake of not pursuing with the right interest

In their busy schedules, passive talent may not have the time to respond. They may be oscillating back and forth. Or they may suddenly awake to the potential of opportunity in a bigger arena of competition. Subtle but interested follow-up measures at the right time in the right channels and with the right messages are necessary.

The cardinal realisation in hiring passive candidates is that they do not need the organisation, it is the organisation that needs them. As they are not looking for change, they may be unsure of taking the offer forward to an interview. Talent acquisition of passive talent requires sensitivity to focus on the candidate’s needs and timelines. This may actually help them to decide in the organisation’s favor in a competitive market that is throwing out equally attractive nets to capture them.

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