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Active v's passive candidates: Building an attraction strategy

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Active v's passive candidates: Building an attraction strategy

To attract the best candidates to your business, your recruitment strategy should be tailored to the individual needs of the people you’re trying to reach. Traditional recruitment strategies usually assume that the perfect candidate is already out there looking for a new role. If so, your strategy will focus on being visible in the right places and selling your company’s Employer Value Proposition.

However, it’s not always the case that candidates are actively searching for you – your next top performer could be settled in their current role, and not actively looking for a new job. If this is the case, you’ll need a different strategy to attract their attention.

Active vs. Passive candidates: What’s the difference?

​​Active candidates are those who are actively seeking work – people who are openly in the job market and are making efforts to submit applications, approach companies and start conversations with recruiters. Active candidates are quick to hire, enthusiastic and ready to begin a new position. For the majority of roles, they’re the most effective option for filling a position with a good quality candidate quickly and effectively.

​​Passive candidates, on the other hand, are currently in employment and not actively seeking a new position. However, they could be tempted into another job, should the right opportunity come along. All it takes is one bad day in the office that could push a decision. When sourcing a hard-to-find skillset or looking to fill critical roles within your company, the chances are the best candidates have already been snapped up by another employer. Often the only way to fill those positions with good quality employees is by casting your recruitment net further afield to capture passive candidates.

​​Tailoring Your recruitment strategy

​​Active candidates and passive candidates require different approaches and being able to adapt your strategies to suit both will attract the highest quality talent to your business. In order to build an effective attraction strategy, it is first important to know the needs of both passive and active candidates.

​​Active candidates

​​Active candidates are in the job market for a reason – they know what they want from their next employer and will apply to companies that they feel might be able to fulfil those wants. Candidates have a lot more choice; companies are vying for top talent in the middle of a skills shortage. To attract the best active candidates, it’s therefore important to “sell” to them both the company and the position they’re applying for. Focus on the unique reasons why candidates should want to work for your company – your Employer Value Proposition, or EVP. It’s also important to demonstrate your company values and the culture. People want to work for a company that ties into their moral standards. Since the digital world has made it easier to find out what it’s really like to work for an organisation, use this transparency to your advantage. If you have a fantastic, ever-evolving culture, employees will share their positive experiences. Candidates want proof, and having your own team be advocates is the biggest proof there is. 

​​Your EVP goes far beyond just salary and benefits – while these are important, communicating your EVP means giving candidates a clear picture of your company culture, training and progression opportunities, company values and business goals. It’s also about flexible working and hybrid working – the things that provide better work/life balance. People want a role that fits around them and their responsibilities. No longer are offices a “one size fits all” requirement. For employees, flexibility goes a long way. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and a worker is no less productive for having responsibilities outside of the office. 

​​While it can be tempting to embellish, it’s important to be honest about these factors. Ensuring the promises you make as part of your attraction strategy are in line with the reality of a position means that employees are likely to stay with your company longer, be more engaged and produce their best work. Asking your current employees to contribute to defining what it’s like to work for your business, anonymously if necessary, results in a more honest picture of what your company culture, values and progression are really like.

​​For active candidates, providing a great experience hinges on a flexible, fast, transparent, and efficient recruitment process. Unnecessarily drawn-out or overly complex processes can be frustrating to candidates who are actively looking for work, and can damage your employer brand, making it hard to attract strong applicants in future. If the perfect active candidate comes along, being able to fast-track their application is vital to avoid losing them to a competitor who is able to move faster. Strong recruitment processes should also focus on effectively communicating with all applicants to keep them updated on the progress of their application – applicants who aren’t successful still influence your employer brand through word of mouth, so communicating with them is just as important as managing your shortlisted candidates.

​​Passive candidates

​​Attracting passive candidates requires a very personal approach. It’s important to remember that a passive candidate may be satisfied in their current role, feeling fulfilled and making a valuable contribution. For these employees, going through the upheaval of changing job will only be worthwhile if there’s a very good reason to do so, and a minor pay increase or a few perks will probably not be enough to tempt them.

​​Convincing a strong passive candidate to make the leap means building a one-to-one relationship with them to understand what they truly value in a role. Nurturing a relationship takes time. Rather than selling your entire EVP to passive candidates, it’ll be necessary to focus on the elements that are most likely to appeal to them on a personal level. Being able to clearly demonstrate how a role can cater to a passive candidate’s specific needs, whether that’s for a step up in responsibility, better long-term prospects, or a company that is more in line with their values, is far more likely to spark their interest than a small pay increase or a few extra perks. That is how candidates will positively engage with your brand. 

​​Engaging with passive candidates also requires a more flexible and lighter approach to communication than active candidates, and you should expect them to move much more slowly through the recruitment process. Companies that pester, are unwilling to negotiate, or who apply undue pressure are often unsuccessful in recruiting passive candidates. Providing a good experience is about listening, being patient and being prepared to negotiate. By building a relationship, and engaging the candidate, they are more likely to consider your company as somewhere that piques their interest, particularly if you have a good rapport.  

​​Your current team can also be an incredibly valuable resource for attracting new passive candidates. After all they’re the greatest advocate for your brand. Employee referrals are highly effective for drawing the best quality candidates to your business and selling your employer value proposition effectively. If the people already working at your company are satisfied with their employment, they’re likely to convince others in their network that the business is worth engaging with. This might mean asking directly for referrals or recommendations or putting prospective passive candidates in touch with a current team member to talk about their experiences.

​​Develop your recruitment strategy

​​Need more advice on creating the perfect attraction strategy? The team at greenbean has expert knowledge and experience in improving recruitment processes for businesses to include attraction and engagement methods with both active and passive candidates. 

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