5 Effective Ways to Source Passive Candidates

JANUARY 25, 2022 3 min read

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What’s one of the biggest challenges in the recruiting industry today? Sourcing and recruiting passive candidates.

If you’ve got this skill under your belt, then take pride in the fact that you’ve hit a “sweet spot” that’s highly valued all across the industry. 

If sourcing passive talent is a strategy that you haven’t paid too much attention to yet, then there’s no better time to start than now.

What is passive candidate sourcing?

Passive candidate sourcing is essentially the act of identifying and engaging people who are not currently looking for a job. A strong sourcer can look out into the vast talent pool beyond and return with qualified, interested, and available candidates.

Why is it not enough to wait for unemployed candidates to apply to your open roles? 

At our webinar Sourcing Beyond 2020,James Cleaver, Vice of President of Client Delivery at PeopleScout shared that “it’s not enough to just say ‘we have a new job open.’ Talent acquisition teams should be talking about the company, talking about the culture, talking about initiatives and growth.” 

As businesses all around the world work toward pandemic recovery, it will be critical for recruiters and sourcers to continuously expand their talent pool for current and future roles. 

Not only do candidates and applicants have more employment options to choose from, but they are also increasingly wary of how employers can promise stability in a post-pandemic economy. Sourcing passive talent is one way to actively build trust and interest with qualified candidates that aren’t paying attention to you. 

How do you source passive candidates?

This is a really hard job – from decoding a hiring manager’s description of a candidate to actually finding that person and then getting them to return your call/email/InMail/desperate sticky note that you left on their car window. 

Mine candidates from your own database

Regardless of which ATS or talent acquisition software you are using, there’s a chance that the perfect passive candidate for your position is already living on one of your existing databases. 

Capitalizing on your past efforts can save you time. To easily mine passive candidates from your ATS, you will first need to spring-clean your existing data so you can update old candidate profiles with their most recent professional experience.

Ensure a clean candidate database by checking for any gaps or inconsistencies in your candidate data. Tending to the holes in your candidate data is crucial for success. 

A good way to keep your candidate data organized, refreshed, and updated is to keep all the software in your recruiting ecosystem in sync. hireEZ’s ATS integrations automate manual database housekeeping tasks like data deduplication and enrich stale candidate profiles with updated information from open web platforms. An integrated tech stack with hireEZ keeps profiles in your database relevant for talent rediscovery so you can easily source from your ATS with hireEZ’s AI Sourcing. 

Another valuable tip from Bullhorn on archiving candidates, “Don’t delete them because you’ll lose all the notes and history attached to the candidate. Instead, file the candidate away using your ATS’ archive function. This prevents the candidate from clogging up your searches without permanently erasing potentially valuable information.” This strategy lets you search your ATS more efficiently, but also keeps key details in case a candidate returns to you as an applicant via other passive sourcing channels.

Referral Programs

An established referral program can be a game-changer. A successful referral program shifts some of the burdens of recruiting off of your employer brand and outreach strategy. “It allows you to turn your entire workforce into recruiters,” says Kara Yarnot, who studies referrals for a living in her position as president of  Meritage Talent Solutions. 

If you think about it, you only have so many sourcers, recruiters, and resources at your disposal to activate candidates – it complements your recruiting efforts well to have a strong referral program in place to enable employees to help source. With incentives, rewards, and the right strategy – referral programs are a cost-effective way to activate a grand, qualified labor pool of passive candidates who have proven themselves to those in their network. 

Referral programs also aid the company’s bottom line. Studies show that referred candidates have a longer tenure than traditional hires. Beyond that, employee referral programs have proven to diminish recruiting costs since referred candidates typically onboard faster. 

Talent communities

Next up is talent communities. So what is a talent community? “A talent community is a medium enabling you to connect with candidates who don’t see an available opportunity with your company that aligns with their interests.” In simpler terms, it’s a centralized hub where candidates can submit their information without committing to a specific position. Once you have a good amount of job seekers within your talent community, you can build a pipeline of passive candidates who have already engaged with your employer brand and are keen to work for your organization now or in the future.

For example, let’s say you have an engineering candidate who is proficient at Ruby, but there are no open positions on your team for Ruby. Sometime later, a project emerges where you need a proficient Ruby developer immediately. Now you’ll have a candidate that has already expressed interest, long before the position even existed.

Another benefit to running a talent community is the opportunity to nurture future candidates with content about your company’s success, vision, and culture. Armed with a better understanding of your organization, they are more likely to self-select for culture fit and do better in an interview.

Altogether, you’re looking at a major increase in response rate and employee fit just for letting people express their interest before a position was ready for them.

AI sourcing software

In the last few years, a number of passive sourcing tools have come into the market that goes far beyond a typical database of candidate information. These are supercharged sourcing tools that leverage AI to assist in automating high-volume tasks like searching across networks, building rich candidate profiles, and ranking candidates by level of relevance.

The advantageous aspects of using AI are vast – improving the accuracy of candidate matching and freeing up time to focus on the human element of recruiting. According to a survey hireEZ sent out to 350 recruiting professionals in November 2020, 46% of talent acquisition professionals are eager to invest in AI recruitment technology in 2021.

AI sourcing technology like hireEZ automates open web searches from professional networking sites like LinkedIn to platforms like GitHub and social media sites like Twitter. These open web profiles are maintained and updated by employed professionals who use the Internet to showcase their work, collaborate with others, and build networking relationships. 

Through a simple AI-powered search, recruiters and sourcers are able to cut down time spent manually jumping from platform to platform to search for these public profiles. When identifying passive candidates and uncovering contact information is done in a more efficient way, this leaves more time for recruiters and sourcers to research their candidates and craft personalized outreach sequences to start the conversation. 

Personal branding for digital hires

By now, you have certainly heard of employer branding and the immensely positive effects it can have on your recruiting organization. But your own personal brand as a recruiter can not only help your company but yourself too. 

We know, we know you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because you’ve heard the phrase “personal brand” for the 1000th time. But talent acquisition is a hard job, now more than ever – candidates depend on technology more than ever before to stay on the pulse of the economy, news, and exciting new opportunities marketed by companies and recruiters like yourself.

Having a strong personal brand will aid in standing out to passive candidates, and enables you to connect at a different level so they think of you when they ever consider checking out another job opportunity somewhere else. Instead of just being a recruiter, you have the opportunity to be seen as a thought leader in the industry, presenting yourself in a fresh way to candidates.

Sourcing and identifying passive talent is only one-half of the work that goes into converting these individuals into applicants and candidates. hireEZ’s 2021 Recruitment Outlook Report showed that 50% of recruiting teams find employer competition to be the biggest challenge in 2021. The more efficient the sourcing process, the more time recruiters can spend time engaging passive candidates and convincing them about a company or job opportunity. 

To see how you can identify passive candidates with hireEZ, take our Chrome extension for a spin or talk to our team today. 


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