What are passive and disengaged candidates?

Engaging passive candidates should be a priority for recruiters, as this greatly broadens their hiring pool. Passive candidates are workers that an employer would consider for a given job position, but that candidate is not actively seeking new employment. They may even be employed by a different organization. However, oftentimes the most sought-after talent in the market is often wielding multiple offers or options at a time. There are strategies available to recruiters that would help them to stand out to these candidates, which often represent the top talent in a given industry. Passive candidates need to be sold on the job and the company. Without a proper incentive, they are unlikely to seriously consider a new role. 

Disengaged candidates are job seekers who are not fully committed to applying to a given position. This disengagement can take on different forms. For instance, 69% of job seekers abandon a job application if they feel that it’s taking too long to complete, typically after 20 minutes. Further, 60% of candidates will visit and leave a careers page without applying to a position at all. This level of candidate dropoff is costly for employers, as it hurts their candidate pipeline and causes them to miss out on great potential matches for their opening. Live Recruiter’s mission is to improve the candidate experience and resultantly allow employers to optimize their recruitment funnel and reach the best candidates. See below for our advice on connecting with passive and disengaged candidates. 

1. Connect person-to-person

Job seekers across industries feel that the job search process has become more impersonal. Thanks to the Internet, companies are able to process applications at a massive scale and most applications get lost in the shuffle. Live Recruiter’s own primary research revealed that candidates spend much of their time curating their applications to appease an AI in order to ensure that their application is not rejected outright. This has led many candidates to feel disillusioned with the job search, as the human element is lacking due to hiring managers’ increasing reliance on AI. Candidates are typically happy to receive communications from a person, regardless of whether or not they end up landing the job. Engaging candidates by being personal is the key to capturing the attention of passive and disengaged candidates, especially at a time when employer ghosting is common practice. Messages that are personalized, relevant, and well-timed allow organizations to capture the attention of previously disinterested candidates. Some of the ways to make these interactions more personal include using candidates’ names in emails and other messaging, sending messages from the hiring manager or recruiter’s email rather than a “noreply” address, and opening the floor for further dialogue and questions from the candidate. 

2. Highlight the employer brand

The employer brand has a huge impact on the impression companies make on candidates. Management style, company values, company culture, and employer value proposition (non-compensation related benefits offered to employees) all influence the employer brand. 75% of job seekers are likely to apply to a position at a company that actively manages their employer brand. Employers should consider what sets them apart from other organizations and how they can leverage these points of difference to stand out to passive and disengaged candidates. For example, if an employer offers leadership training or sponsored courses (such as MBA), these elements of their employer value proposition can encourage job seekers to apply with the organization. 

man and woman siting on sofa chair inside room

3. Leverage content marketing

Engaging passive candidates is easier for companies with high brand awareness. Social media and content marketing allow employers to build their brand and promote themselves to their potential candidate pool. Relevant, topical, and high-quality content bolsters the employer brand and helps organizations stand out to job seekers. PepsiCo Talent Acquisition Manager Rebecca Clothier stated that “95% of the work you put into social recruiting is done before you post the job.” With the right content marketing strategy, employers increase their brand awareness, establishing a sense of familiarity with job seekers that makes them likelier to stay actively engaged through the application process. Regularly generating content also helps companies boost their SEO, which is significant seeing as there are over 226 million Google searches for jobs every month.

4. Maintain timeliness and continuity of communication

55% of candidates lose interest if a potential employer does not follow up with them within two weeks of their application. Furthermore, candidates are likeliest to reply to a recruiter’s email on the same day that it was sent than any later time. With these figures in mind, both the frequency and timing of communication are important to keep in mind during the hiring process. Passive candidates that are not interested in a position at a given time can be kept warm for later and nurtured for the future through regular email updates from the employer, such as major company news or relevant articles.  

Days after first reply

(Source: beamery.com)

Final takeaways

With the right practices, employers can broaden their recruitment funnel by capturing the attention of passive or otherwise disengaged candidates. Understanding candidates’ priorities, communication styles, and interests allows employers to foster stronger connections with applicants and generate more interest for the opportunities at their company. Maintaining a human element in your hiring strategy, leveraging the employer brand and social content, and ensuring that communications with candidates are relevant and timely are all conducive to better candidate engagement.