What is the Passive Candidate Market?

When you work in the recruitment space for long enough – whether you’re hiring or looking for a role – you’ll likely hear about ‘passive candidates’. It’s estimated that around 75% of the workforce at any given time is passive, which is a problem for employers.

If you solely operate your recruitment efforts on the active market you’re only hitting around 25% of the entire workforce. So what does the passive candidate market represent and why is it important for employers to ensure they’re speaking to this market?

What is a passive candidate and what is the passive candidate market?

A passive candidate is a person who is not actively searching for a new job but may be open to new opportunities. They’re typically full-time employees in a role, not actively searching on job boards and obviously, not interviewing. 

According to data from LinkedIn, over half of the passive candidate market is open to new opportunities despite not actively looking for a new role. This means a significant proportion of top talent in the workforce could potentially be your ideal candidate but is missing your recruitment efforts.

The passive candidate market, then, is a fantastic resource that is often untapped by employers hiring in-house. While in-house recruitment is often cited as a way of saving money, data suggests that employers are not only spending significantly more time and resources during their recruitment efforts – they’re not even hitting the entire market.

The question is then, how do employers go about reaching the passive candidate market?

How to access the passive candidate market and approach passive candidates

If you’re looking to tap into the potential of the passive candidate market, you’re probably going to have to change your approach. Typically, you can’t rely on job boards or infrequent social media. These people aren’t active candidates and chances are, they won’t take notice of a new role no matter how good a fit it is for them. With that in mind, here are some ways you can start accessing this market: 

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1. Streamline the recruitment process

The first step in passive candidate recruitment is ensuring the process is as quick and easy as possible. A lengthy or complex application process isn’t going to attract either passive or active candidates. Instead, take the time to make sure the journey between seeing a job listing and applying to it is as easy as possible.

Once you have the candidate engaged, you can start asking more detailed questions and optimising your screening but until then, keep it simple.

2. Identify passive candidates

Once you have an intuitive application process, you’ll need to find out where your passive candidates are. A common approach is to reach out to qualified prospects on LinkedIn. A simple message that isn’t intrusive and simply details the position, benefits and why you think they’d be a good fit is enough. 

The important thing to remember at this stage is that you’re effectively cold-calling which some candidates might not appreciate. In most cases, people will be more willing to listen as you’ve specifically headhunted them, which let’s face it, is a nice ego boost if nothing else. Just remember, these people aren’t actively looking and may be content in their current role, meaning they’re more likely to be fussy over specific details as they effectively have nothing to lose.

3. Leverage a referral scheme

A great way of hiring from the passive candidate market is to utilise a referral system. Your existing workforce will often move in circles with other talented employees in similar fields, meaning you might have an untapped resource already working for you. 

Before you go out to market it’s worth speaking with your existing employees about the role and asking them for recommendations. Aside from widening the net, referrals also tend to be more likely to succeed as an employee is vouching for them. This is not something that people regularly do for everyone, meaning you’re generally less likely to have a bad hire.

4. Work with a recruitment partner

While the above is all great advice, it’s pretty much a full-time job on top of your existing responsibilities. As an employer, if you take the approach mentioned above, you’ll be assigning significant resources to the task which could detrimentally impact your day-to-day operation. 

This is why we always suggest working with a recruitment partner. Aside from local market knowledge, experience in the field and an understanding of what candidates are looking for, recruitment agencies such as AD Offshore can easily tap into the passive candidate market.

Over the years we’ve built a vast network of clients and candidates across Jersey, Guernsey and even the UK mainland. This means that by working with us, you’re able to access that network without having to lift a finger – until the interviewing process, obviously.

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