In our previous post, we discussed the benefit of recruitment marketing and why you should incorporate it in your own recruitment process. If you aren’t already aware, recruitment marketing is a method used to find and attract better candidates for the role you are looking to fill. 

Step two on the road to creating a flawless recruitment process is to connect with candidates who might not even be looking for a new job.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase ‘elusive talent’ before now – the infamous passive candidates. Passive candidates are simply potential candidates who are qualified for the job you are hiring for but haven’t applied for the position – yet. 

What are the Benefits of Searching for Passive Candidates? 

If you’re wondering why you should actively look for candidates when you already have qualified candidates applying for your vacancies or generally just reaching out to you via your careers page, here are some ways conducting passive candidate searches can benefit your recruitment efforts. 

Make a Targeted Skill Search 

Generally, when you have a vacancy to put out there, you would simply send out a widely broadcasted job ad and hope for the best; however, you can narrow down your outreach to potential candidates who match specific requirements. 

Hire for Hard to Fill Roles 

Some jobs just prove difficult to fill because due to a lack of applicants. In this situation, it pays to do your research and reach out to qualified people who you think would be a good fit for the role. 

Expand your Candidate Sources  

Restricting your job ads to specific platforms runs the risk of missing out on prime candidates. Broadening your horizons and listing openings on social media, CV databases and by word of mouth or even referrals, you are giving people who wouldn’t usually get the chance to see these vacancies the opportunity to apply. 

Diversify your Candidate Database 

When building a diverse hiring process, it’s often the case that you will need to proactively reach out to candidate groups that can’t be guaranteed to or don’t traditionally apply for your open roles. For example, if you’re looking to achieve gender balance, you can specifically attract more male or female candidates by posting your job ad to a professional Facebook group that’s dedicated to men or women.

Build a Talent Pool 

The recruitment process shouldn’t stop at the here and now. You never know when you will find yourself in a position of needing to increase your workforce or replace a member of staff who retires or decides to leave you. Creating a talent pool of people who are skilled or have the sort of experience you would like in your service can be a real blessing for future hiring efforts. This can be easily made up of people you come across who would be perfect for a role in your business but aren’t currently interested in moving positions, or even people who would be perfect for your company but you currently have no openings for them.

Where Should You Look for Passive Candidates?

I’m by no means suggesting that you should ever give up hope on traditional methods of advertising jobs such as recruitment agencies or careers pages, but you can definitely benefit from maximising your outreach to potential candidates by sourcing in more diverse places. 

Social Media

I can’t stress enough just how valuable LinkedIn is. It’s is, after all, a professional networking platform which makes for an optimal place to search for potential candidates. Not only that, but you can also promote job openings and directly contact people who would be a good fit for your company. Other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can also be a great resource when hiring.

Portfolio and CV Databases

Consider exploring databases that give you access to samples of work for potential candidates as these will give you a good indication of whether someone has the right skills for the job you are looking to fill. 

Past Applications

Keep a record of any past applicants in your talent pool. They are already familiar with your company and have shown an interest in working for you – you’ve also already evaluated their skills and suitability, which will save you some time as you will be able to skip the first stages of the hiring process, such as introductions, screening and assessment tests. 


When you have a shortage of applicants, consider looking into your network and your co-workers’ networks for potential candidates. Referrals tend to onboard faster and stay for longer and you also save money on advertising and time that would have otherwise been spent on sourcing candidates elsewhere. 


Another traditional method of searching for candidates is at a job fair that are specifically arranged to connect employers with job seekers. However, you can meet potential candidates in all sorts of professional settings, be it meetings, conferences or business trips. 

Meeting candidates in person helps to establish a solid relationship and will also give you the chance to learn about their professional goals. 

How Should You Contact Passive Candidates? 

Once you have found your potential candidates, you need to attract their attention and get them to engage with you. This can sometimes feel easier said than done, so here are a few effective ways to communicate with passive candidates. 

Personalise your Message

If you get a message in your already full inbox with a generic and impersonal message that has clearly been sent out a fair few time before you got to read it, the chances are you won’t even give it a second thought before moving it straight to your dustbin.

The candidates you reach out to will be no different. To pique someone’s interest, you need to show them that you did your homework and that you reached out to them because you genuinely feel that they would be a good fit for the job and that you really do want to speak with them specifically. 

A good tactic is to mention something that relates to them as an individual, for example, acknowledges their good work on a portfolio or recent project and explain why you feel they would be a good candidate for the role you are looking to fill. 

Be Respectful of Their Time

Candidates who are in high-demand jobs will be used to getting recruitment emails, which means that they will have to spend a good deal of time sorting through their inbox. Keep in mind the following when emailing passive candidates: 

  • Keep the message short and sweet while providing as much information about the job and company as possible to ensure that you get across all the important stuff without making them read through an essay which will take up a lot of their valuable time. 
  • Never follow up more than once – if they haven’t responded, chances are that they aren’t interested and the more you bug them, the less inclined they’ll be to want to keep you in mind for the future. 

Build Relationships in Advance 

Keeping a talent pool of people you’ve previously met or interviewed is all well and good, but to really give yourself a fighting chance of landing them as potential hires in the future, you should find a way to keep an open connection with them. 

Strike up a ‘friendship’ on social media so that you are always present in a subtle way or even go the extra mile by meeting up for coffee chats to keep the connection alive. That way, when you eventually approach them with a job offer, they will be more inclined to keep an open mind and consider your proposal. 

Boost your Employer Brand

Make a good impression! The first thing that a passive candidate will do when they’ve been approached by a recruiter is to look up the company website. Your digital footprint will play a big part in their ultimate decision and an outdated or unprofessional looking site will not leave a good taste in their mouth. 

Keep your website well maintained and up-to-date with a well-presented careers page, positive reviews from employees and clients and keep on top of social media pages to gain those bonus points. 

The less widely known your company is, the more important your employer brand image becomes.

Read more in part 3 of The Recruitment Process series where we look at utilising existing staff connections to obtain referrals.