Activate the Passive Candidate
The talent acquisition field hears a lot about passive talent now. A quick Google search on “passive candidates” returns more than 1,790,000 hits. There is no shortage of experts and firms offering advice on how to best search for, engage and hire these elusive candidates.
What is the best way to move forward? Jessica Miller-Merrell offered some great advice in a recent post. She broke down the task into three distinct sources: references, employee referrals and the firm’s current database. Using the references of candidates applying for open positions is an often talked about source of qualified candidates that may not be actively seeking new positions. Shahbaz Alibaig, the recruitment technology leader for global talent acquisition at GE, in his webcast Building Pipelines in a Competitive Talent Pool, explained GE’s process of keeping the silver medal winners engaged for future roles. The silver medal winners are candidates who at the time did not win the open position, but with time and experience will be the right person for the job. These candidates are often already in the firm’s ATS and just need a more effective manner of tracking and engaging.
Lou Adler shared some best technical practices as well in 10 Commandments of Recruiting Passive Candidates. He dove into the role the recruiter will need to play as marketer for both the firm and the specific position to the candidate. The recruiter’s credibility must shine through in all discussions to build an honest and transparent relationship. He said, “You must engage with the person for at least 10 minutes to establish your professionalism.” Lou stated that once the candidate has expressed initial interest, the recruiter must seize control and find out about the candidates background before sharing too many details about the job. By withholding the job information, the recruiter can assess for fit from the candidate’s background and build the relationship before finding out if the candidate finds the actual job interesting, not just the idea of the job. Establishing the relationship first will provide for more willingness from the candidate to offer referrals from their personal network.
Recently, on the webcast Connect with Passive Candidates, Nicole Guiet, director of talent acquisition at CH2M HILL, shared the experience of her firm. They did not have a talent acquisition organization until 2006 and now are recognized for best-in-class global recruitment practices by ERE and the CEB Recruiting Roundtable with a focus on social and mobile technologies.
Firms can keep things “simple” with great execution from their recruiters, shift the focus to exploring referrals and candidates already in the ATS, or explore full service solutions like well crafted online talent communities across social and mobile platforms. Companies need to think strategically about their future needs and their current capabilities to efficiently source passive candidates. Success does not have to come with a high monetary price but it will require a focused outlook and an efficient organization of resources and tools.