How To Turn Passive Candidates into Curious Candidates

By Experteer

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McKinsey coined the term War For Talent in 1997. Most headhunters and recruiters see this as the reality now. In non-transparent labor markets marred by uncertainty, the one thing that distinguishes one company from another is the quality of talent they possess. Even with the overload of candidates on different online platforms, finding the right ones is often a challenge for headhunters and recruiters alike. A variety of services allowing for headhunters to sift through the noise have come up as a result in response to this need. But the greatest challenge that headhunters face is that about 75% of candidates on all online platforms are considered ‘passive’. The graph below indicates the behavior showcased by these passive candidates online. The silver lining is that even though they are not actively seeking jobs, about 45% of ‘passive candidates’ are open to talking to a recruiter or headhunter.


At the top of the funnel Headhunters and Recruiters need to make extra efforts to employ active sourcing techniques to reach the candidates they wish to reach. The next key question is how can you turn these passive candidates into curious candidates?! When a large number of online candidates are being contacted, how can a headhunter ensure that these connections are successfully matched with their search mandates and available positions?

We offer some insights in our eBook entitled: how to turn passive candidates into curious candidates and here are the top 4 tips:

  • Turn to active sourcing: A high percentage (97%) candidates want to be ‘found by headhunters’ yet only 38% headhunters have been found to be working on ‘active sourcing’ techniques (source: Experteer Survey, 2013). Candidates who are seeking opportunities may come from different regions and countries. Recruitment ramp up time as well as hiring risk is greatly reduced by anticipating talent needs and expectations. Active sourcing is the way of the future!


  • Convince through information: We offer suggestions from passive candidates talking about the reasons why they immediately reject a contact request that does not seem detailed enough. At senior levels passive candidates are merely sifting through emails at times. They need to have a reason to feel that they’ve been contacted specifically because they showcase the skillset that is necessary for a certain profile. At no point must the candidate feel that the headhunter or recruiter is not fully sure of the position in question. It has a direct impact on credibility and is a big turn off especially for senior candidates.


  • Invest in long term relationships: Their job today may feel great, but there’s no certainty of that 6 months from now with so many new technological disruptions unfolding in today’s economy. This is an opportunity for headhunters to ‘keep in touch’ and allow themselves to build up a candidate pool. The key is moving into a consultative approach rather than a traditional sales-only approach (although in today’s social world that in itself is changing).


  • Communication strategy: From making first contact in an open way, to establishing which are the right channels to use to get in touch, to staying on a concrete and open communication path – these are all key for successful active sourcing. Plus it is important to be aware of candidate preferences. Overwhelmingly, 87% of candidates prefer correspondence via private emails- and many recruiters seem to be neglecting this, often preferring to make direct phone calls instead.

We hope these are useful tips for recruiters and headhunters alike and that through these tips recruitment can move towards more sustainable and efficient methods.

Find more key insights and join in the conversation! Experteer’s free eBook on turning passive candidates into curious candidates can be downloaded here.


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