Critical to any recruiter’s career, is the ability to find and maintain relationships with exceptional passive talent. According to one LinkedIn report, only 21% of the world’s workforce considers themselves an active candidate. The other 79% are passive candidates. These so-called passive candidates are where you will build your core network. These are your ambassadors for new business, your referral sources and the product you market. In most cases these are the candidates a hiring manager is most interested in finding.
Knowing what motivates passive candidates, and how to identify them, will help you break the ice in networking with this type of talent. Understanding these motivations helps you to seek out the pain that may be present in their current situation. If you have an opportunity that can remedy that pain, you are more likely to spark their interest and make a placement.
Talented People Want to Make an Impact. When you meet someone new, ask a few questions beyond “What do you do?” Do they like their job? Do they like who they work for? Do they feel empowered, or is their ability to make an impact stifled by an overbearing supervisor or co-worker? Never underestimate the need to feel appreciated. Many dream of a job where someone would actually notice their contributions or would accept their input.
Even employees that are very successful sometimes feel under-appreciated. It’s these people that you want to pay attention to. They just might be persuaded to look at an opportunity for a similar job where they can make more of an impact on the organization. You could not ask for a better marketing opportunity as a recruiter than presenting a candidate that is already successful in a similar role at your client’s competitor.
Everyone Wants To Work In Place Where They Feel Comfortable. Ask a person what they love about the environment that they currently work in and you will quickly know if culture is a motivator for change where this candidate is concerned. This is because, beyond the logistics of scenery, people just want to fit in. Passive candidates are more likely to want a corporate culture that fits their personality. Probe carefully when talking with potential candidates. What does their ideal work environment look like? Where is it located in relationship to where they are now? Are they laid back and creative or someone that feels most comfortable in their power suit? What motivates them to be successful and does their current employer provide that? What do they like or dislike about their co-workers.
You will get vastly different answers when you start asking these types of questions. It can be one of the most compelling reasons to consider a job change. I encourage job posters to include information about the company culture on their job advertisements. Job distribution sites offer ways to share your ads on the web with social networks and other industry websites, not just job boards per se. Because of the viral nature of this type of posting, the job lands in front of passive candidates as well as active ones.
Top Performers Like To Be Challenged. Often, an individual that is extremely comfortable, maybe even too comfortable, in their current position will be intrigued by an opportunity for a new challenge. When I meet someone who is very successful, I like to ask them to tell me about their next professional challenge. If they have a difficult time giving concrete examples of their future or current professional challenges, this person may be silently begging to be motivated again. It is never a mistake to stay in touch with a successful person who is not being challenged.
We have all been a passive candidate at some point in our careers. Early in my career I was working for a great company. I had a solid career progression and was in a role I felt I had mastered. I was gainfully employed, successful, and comfortable. I was so comfortable in fact, that I had plenty of time to listen to a recruiter who called to share an opportunity with me one Friday afternoon. I quickly realized that the opportunity he was selling was called the same thing, but very different than the position I was in. It might even be hard to deliver everything this company was looking for. They had high expectations and I would need to learn a lot to be successful with them. It would be a new challenge and that was exciting to me.
Needless to say, I pursued the interview with his company and was offered a position. When the recruiter called, I’ll admit that I considered declining the offer. The position did not pay more, had less autonomy, and was a bit more of a drive. Taking this job would mean a big change. The consultant who recruited me was a master though. He quickly reminded me of our first conversation. He asked me one question: “Did I want to settle for comfortable or challenge myself to be great.” The rest is history, folks. I took that position and never looked back.
Find out what motivates every person you meet. Any one of them could be a passive candidate. I don’t have any statistics on the number of people that have nothing that would motivate them to explore new career opportunities, but I’m guessing it would be pretty low. Few people have a job that could not be improved. Almost everyone you meet is a passive candidate.
Amy McDonald is the President and CEO at REKRUTR. She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy participates as a thought leader in Recruiting for BIZCATALYST360°