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5 Ways to Find Passive Candidates for IT Jobs

Jan 28 , 2016

With an estimated 500,000 unfilled positions in IT today, it is obvious that the talent search for qualified candidates must extend far beyond those who are actively seeking employment. Many of the industry's best candidates are not actively searching for a job.

Where the Talent Is

According to LinkedIn's "2015 Global Recruiting Trends Report", 75 percent of global professionals consider themselves to be "passive" candidates. However, only 61 percent of organizations are actively targeting passive candidates in their recruiting efforts. These statistics illustrate a large pool of untapped talent available for proactive recruiters.

Finding passive candidates among employed IT workers requires creative thinking.

While passive candidates identify themselves as completely satisfied with their current positions and in no hurry to move, they still routinely reach out to a personal network and may be open to talking with a recruiter, given the right motivation to do so.

How to Turn Passive into Active

How can you tap into this vast pool of potential candidates? What are some strategies for turning passive candidates into active job seekers? Here are a few things to try:

1) Overcome any reticence about approaching passive candidates.

The first step in finding passive candidates is overcoming the thought that your efforts will be unsuccessful. Even those candidates that are happy and dedicated in their current roles will likely listen if a better opportunity presents itself. Before touting the benefits of working with your organization to others, you must be invested in it yourself.

2) Build a talent brand that proves irresistible to the right candidate.

Your talent brand seeks to promote your company as a great place to work and is intrinsically tied to how employees think, feel, and communicate about your company. This is one facet of your multi-faceted overall brand reputation, but it should not be taken lightly. How your organization is perceived by current and potential employees has a dramatic impact on your ability to move passive candidates to action.

LinkedIn's report also reveals that 75 percent of global talent acquisition leaders identify talent brand as impactful in their acquisition strategies.
Therefore, you must craft a focused strategy which clearly establishes your talent brand as desirable. This strategy must be deployed over several social media channels, including:

• your company website
• online professional networks like LinkedIn
• social media like Facebook and Twitter

Companies deploying a consistent talent brand strategy in these key areas increase their chances of acquiring top talent even among so-called passive candidates.

3) Make good use of employee referral programs.

Your current employees are a gold mine of information about potential passive candidates. Investing in making your current employees happy will garner positive word of mouth about your workplace. Thus, they become brand ambassadors with friends, family, and colleagues in other companies.

You can also encourage employees to be active recruiters by crafting an employee referral program in which employees who refer qualified candidates who are hired by your organization may be compensated for their recommendations.

4) Build a true talent network.

While it is easy to think of networking as making connections with talented people who are already ideal candidates, it is important not to overlook the fact that networking should be a forward-thinking process that involves nurturing relationships at every level.

In order to have a rich network of talent from which to choose, you must cultivate both professionals that are useful as contacts now and those who will be useful in the future. This requires some careful thought and a good deal of perception on your part.

5) To find passive candidates, you must think like passive candidates.

A 2014 SHRM article makes the point that recruiters must look beyond the typical social media sites like LinkedIn to find passive candidates. Much like a hunter, you must find where your target candidates are likely to be on social media, and make your presence known there.

For instance, frequenting sites where IT pros share information and problem-solving tips with their peers will provide valuable insight into their level of skill and expertise in niche areas you may not be able to ascertain just by looking at a LinkedIn profile.

Use the power of social media to attract passive candidates.

6) Be persistent.

Of all the skills needed to woo passive candidates, perhaps the most important is persistence. Approaching passive candidates with the mindset that you are entering into a process of exploration and negotiation is essential. Avoid pushy tactics, which will likely shut down further exploration on the part of a passive candidate.

Rather, emphasize the ways in which the position you are offering will be one of growth and genuine career opportunity. To actively consider making a change, your candidate must fully perceive the benefit of doing so. Only over the course of time will those benefits become obvious, so patience on your part is necessary.

The Takeaway

Passive candidates represent a major pool of untapped potential for your organization. Recruiting them involves thinking in terms of the long game. Using all the tools at your disposal, including building a solid talent brand, utilizing employee referral programs, and building strong networks on various social media platforms will help you find and convert passive candidates into enthusiastic employees.

For more information about finding a recruiting strategy that works with active and passive candidates, check out our blog "6 IT Recruiting Techniques You Can Steal from the Sales Department".