6 Unique Sourcing Strategies For Attracting Passive Candidates

By Chris Murdock

Share on: 

The job market, as we know it, has changed as the world adjusts to the strange year we’ve had. Earlier this year, college graduates entered into the worst job market since the Great Depression, with the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent in April. This number is thankfully improving as the year comes to a close, but it is a different market from the one just 12 months ago. Some had to make a career change to make ends meet at some point in 2020 and are open to new opportunities, hoping to find a sense of normalcy in the new year. Some candidates were already seeking out new positions at the top of 2020 but decided to put their job search on hold while things got a little… well, crazy.

As 2020 comes to an end, recruiters now have a mixed bag of candidates. So, how do you plan on recruiting passive candidates at the top of 2021? This hiring market requires creative sourcing strategies. Try these 6 unique options from our experts:

1. Spice Up Your Job Descriptions

A well-written job ad will make or break whether passive candidates convert on your job site. When a passive candidate comes across your job opportunity, no matter where they found it, they’ll be more likely to fill out the application if the description really speaks to them.

To nail your job descriptions, follow these best practices:

  • Avoid the third person. “The ideal candidate” sounds dry—incorporate language with “you” and “we” in it instead.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the description. How your company talks about diversity and inclusion will significantly impact whether your job posts attract a diverse pool of candidates. Postings that include even a basic equal opportunity employer statement will fill 6% more quickly than those that don’t.
  • Use growth-focused language. Rather than terms like “expert” or “natural talent,” use language like “persevere,” “forward thinker,” and “opportunity to grow” to show that your company values growth within positions.
  • Choose precise language over vague action words to keep your descriptions succinct and straightforward.


Tip: Include a salary range. Let’s not waste anyone’s time — including your own. Mentioning a salary range in your initial job description ensures any candidate you move forward with won’t come to an abrupt halt when salary discussions commence.

2. Lean On Your Current Team

Employees are often excited to help source candidates to join their team! And, who knows who would fit in better with your culture than those already experiencing it? A 2020 survey found 45% of employees sourced from employee referrals stay for longer than 4 years, while only 25% of employees sourced through job boards stick around for over 2 years.

Keep your team in the know about current and upcoming openings along with the job description you’ve already crafted. Make sure they send talent to your inbox with a name-drop so you know who can vouch for them.

Even better — incentivize your referrals! Offer your employees referral bonuses for new hires (after meeting a probationary period) to keep up the motivation to bring in great talent.

3. Don’t Rule Out Fresh Hires

A candidate who recently started a new job elsewhere may strike you as the most “passive” candidate out there — likely with no interest in making another jump, but you could be wrong. The timing of your outreach can sometimes work in your favor. Consider this — their professional life is already up in the air, and their resume and requirements are up to date.

There’s a chance their new job might not have panned out exactly how they’d hoped or that the company wasn’t what it presented itself to be. You could help mitigate their new job regret. Besides, 31% of employees have reported quitting a job within the first 6 months. Just because a potential candidate has recently accepted a new position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start a conversation with them and feel out their circumstance.

4. Perfect Your Outreach

Sourcing a list of great candidates doesn’t mean much unless they engage with you. You need to perfect your outreach to get the attention of someone who isn’t necessarily seeking new opportunities.

Knowing your audience is crucial — that generic message you’ve sent to 20 other candidates won’t cut it. And, knowing the unique values of the industry will help you by leaps and bounds. For example, while 78% of sales professionals say they would accept less money to work at a company selling something compelling, 66% of healthcare professionals are likely to accept less money to work at a company with a great culture. Leverage what makes the industry unique and lead with this in your outreach! Your goal is to give them just enough information to pique their interest and respond, but you want to be careful about overloading them with too many details.

5. Master Your Social Ads

Recruiters know social ads are an excellent way to target the right audience. But, there is a guessing game of whether your tactics will be enough to stop top talent in their tracks. Here’s our take on social platforms:



Don’t underestimate Facebook when it comes to sourcing candidates! Compared to Linkedin and job boards, sourcing candidates on Facebook is often cheaper and faster. And, you’re more likely to find talent that weren’t necessarily in the thick of their job hunt. Besides the standard targeted ads, you can:

  • See who already follows your company page. They already know what your company is all about!
  • Manually source candidates with creative search queries.
  • Facebook hosts job postings. Create one and share it with your network of followers and ask others to share accordingly.
  • Broaden your idea of your target candidate by boosting your job posts to a broader audience.
  • Share your job posts on relevant Facebook groups and communities.

Hashtags, images, and a clear call to action can create a great deal of Twitter reach. Don’t worry about tweeting about the same opening several times — tweets are short and sweet, and there’s room for a lot of testing to figure out what will work best for your target audience. Once you find a formula that generates some reach, try out a paid promotion to boost it even further.


LinkedIn is still an excellent tool that nearly all recruiters leverage to find active or passive talent. But, recruiting on LinkedIn needs to be done right. We’ve all received generic InMail — make yours casual to stand out from the rest. Do your research and let the candidates know why you’re reaching out to them specifically. Show them that you took the time to see where they went to school, what they minored in, a common geographic area you’re both worked in, or something similar. Referencing a former common employer within your InMail outreach can increase your chances of getting a response by 27%!


6. Lean On A Talent Exchange Marketplace

While active candidates spend their time on job boards, recruiting passive candidates can be done seamlessly on talent exchange marketplaces. These platforms remove the hurdles of finding passive candidates by giving in-house recruiters access to lists of relevant passive candidates’ background and contact information. All you have to do is reach out and take the next step with your unique outreach strategy.


This article was originally published on the IQTalent Partners blog.

Your Social Outsource Team

The Social Hire team don't just do social media.

Our specialists are a team that assists our partners improve their presence online by giving online marketing on a regular basis.

You might like these blog posts Starting Up Part 2: Conquering the Lean Startup Phase, 4 Ways Online Surveys Can Help Your Marketing Campaign, Job Satisfaction in Tech Industries: Are Newer Recruits Happier?, and 11 Simple Steps That Will Help You Manage Your Business.

  Back to Recruitment blogs