Passive Candidates: What NOT To Do, and How To Attract Them

Some of the best candidates aren't actually seriously looking for work right now; they're just keeping an eye on what's out there.

In this article we'll look at the right approach to take when taking the offer to the candidate, as well as a few techniques that might net you more enquiries from window shoppers on your website.

Cold-Contacting: The Basics

First - do your homework. If you're going to go to the trouble of sending someone a 'cold pitch', then for goodness sake make sure that you take the time to read their profile / resume. People aren't necessarily hostile to unsolicited communication; it's impersonal messages from someone that clearly hasn't a clue that annoy. So be seen to be knowledgeable about them and interested in them.

Second - do not, under any circumstances, cold call them at work. Most offices are open plan these days, and their boss could be sitting opposite them. Your phone call could give them a scare and even hurt their career prospects.

Emailing Them

We'd recommend that contact is usually made by email. The first message you send someone is crucial, as most people will make their mind up about whether or not they want to deal with you very quickly.

DON'T send it to their work email

You're trying to poach someone; use their personal email address. For the same reason, don't post anything publicly on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and don't ask them to 'friend' you either.

DON'T try to trick people

You know who uses subject lines like 'RE: our conversation' when they don't know someone? Spammers, that's who.

DON'T request personal information

It's creepy and arrogant. You don't have the slightest idea that they are at all interested, and you're asking them for information? Good luck with that.

The Email You Should Send

Instead, use a short snappy and truthful subject line related to the role you have. in the email:

  • introduce yourself, your company, and explain why you're contacting them specifically;
  • make it personal, and make it clear that you've seen their profile by referring to things that interest you;
  • explain that you have a role that you think might interest them, or those in their network, and provide some details;
  • do everything you can to avoid sounding like a salesperson - stay away from words like 'opportunity' for example;
  • end with a request to talk on the phone, and ask them to suggest times that would suit them if they are interested.

What can you do to make your website more 'sticky' when it comes to these passive candidates?

Give Them Something Proper to Read

Top candidates are likely to want to see something that gives them real insight into your organisation, the quality of work you do, and your culture. So give them something to get their teeth into: weighty white papers; interesting or challenging blog posts; 'fly on the wall' videos that let them into the business and see what it's like to work for you.

Get a Proper Referral Program Going

Make sure that you give your existing team the ability, support and incentive to be recruiting for you everywhere they go. This is a topic in its own right, and we discussed it in more depth only last month.

Make The Initial Application SIMPLE

You shouldn't make anyone jump through hoops for 45 minutes just to express interest in a role, much less your prime candidates who are just window shopping. In addition, you could consider 'live chat' services for quick Q&A sessions whilst people are browsing.