HR Blog

How to Target Passive Job Seekers

The labor market is still tight. Sitting back and waiting (and hoping) for the right candidates to apply to your job postings is not an effective way to staff your openings. You need to be proactive. Being proactive includes targeting passive job seekers.

Passive job seekers are individuals who are currently employed and not actively looking for a new job, but who may be open to a good career opportunity if one came along. Many employers target passive job seekers because they are looking for candidates who have positive employment records and who are satisfied with and successful in their work. Employers often target passive job seekers because of the lack of qualified job candidates to fill critical roles. Locating, wooing and successfully luring passive job seekers are critical for organizations to remain competitive in a tight labor market.

However, planning a strategy targeting passive job seekers is a relatively arduous challenge for employers. Compiled and recommended by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), the following 5-step recruitment strategy targeting passive job seekers will help employers solve this challenge.

Step 1: Identify and strengthen the organization’s employment brand

An employment brand is a way to describe the organization’s reputation as an employer. Passive job seekers are often attracted to organizations with employment brands that align with their own goals and values. Examples of strong employment brands include employers that are known for their support of community involvement and “giving back” through employee volunteering and company events; a fun, free-thinking workplace dedicated to innovation and collaborative contributions; and a dedication to professional development and growth to invest in long-term employment and leadership opportunities.

Regardless of the brand, once it is identified and established, work to strengthen it so word gets out to passive job seekers that your organization is a good place to work.

If your employer brand needs some bolstering, consider taking the following steps:

-Become a good community citizen by sponsoring or cosponsoring community events.

-Provide opportunities for employees to donate their work time to community projects.

-Apply for local and regional HR awards that demonstrate that the organization is considered an employer of choice.

-Invest in a social media expert who can get your employment brand noticed.

-Use advertising for employment brand initiatives as well as product branding.

Step 2: Assess current and projected staffing needs

To target the right passive job seekers, you must understand your organization’s current and projected staffing needs. Conduct a staffing assessment that can identify current and anticipated gaps in the organization’s workforce, including knowledge and skills. This analysis will help determine which passive job seekers should be targeted and what relationships need to be built for future positions.

To assess the skills gaps that may exist in your current workforce, consider taking the following steps:

-Identify what skills your organization currently needs by developing job profiles, keeping your organization’s mission, vision and goals in mind. Once those skills are identified, assess how critical they are based on your organization’s goals by ranking them from high to low.

-Conduct an evaluation of the skills your current employees have. These data can be gathered by reviewing performance assessments, conducting skills analysis questionnaires, and interviewing employees, supervisors, and managers. As in the first step, rank those skills based on how critical they are from high to low.

-Assess the results. Compare the findings gathered in the first two steps above; the differences found will reveal current skills gaps.

-Conduct the same analysis if future skills needs are known to help you target appropriate candidates.

To target passive job seekers for future positions, it is important to understand anticipated staffing needs. Anticipated staffing needs can be forecast by considering the usual turnover rates in your organization, but a more accurate forecast will consider anticipated retirements and future job growth based on the organization’s strategic plan. If the strategic plan includes an expansion in one area of the organization (the more sophisticated use of big data, for example) and a constriction in another (a reduction in the production of a particular good or service), you can anticipate needing more people with technical and analysis skills and fewer line employees.

Step 3: Source passive job seekers

To identify or source passive job candidates, look where those candidates look and go where they go, both physically and virtually. In addition, recruiters can create talent communities—social media websites where a network of people (alumni employees, for example) can share information—that can help source and develop relationships with passive job seekers.

Other ways to source passive job seekers include:

-Social media: Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and professional or association network sites are rich landing places for recruiters and passive job seekers —Mobile recruiting via smartphones: If you have not done so, now is the time to optimize your organization’s career website and job postings to be mobile-user-friendly and to add mobile-enabled job applications. Collaborate with your IT department to learn more about the scope of this project, its costs, and timelines. You can also benchmark your career website with other websites in your industry by accessing them via your smartphone.
-Employee referral programs: Employee referrals remain a popular way to identify passive job seekers, so if you have not updated or reviewed your employee referral program in a few years, it may be time to take a closer look.

-Blogs: Many organizations are increasingly using blogs to source passive job seekers. You can blog about topics that people in your industry would be interested in—not necessarily about your organization though, because people may engage more with content than with company news and updates.

The key to identifying passive job seekers is to be creative. More and more companies are posting videos about what it is like to work there. Others run ads on online radio or run television advertisements and use billboards and even posters to source passive job seekers.

Step 4: Engage passive job seekers

To keep passive job seekers interested, it is necessary to establish an ongoing relationship with them.

That relationship must be built over time. Don’t pressure passive job seekers to move quickly. To start building the relationship, engage them with authentic communication (whether that is through phone calls, social media, blogging, e-mails, etc.). Ask them about their short- and long-term career goals. Send them targeted white papers or other content-rich information in their areas of expertise to keep them engaged and to enhance their receptivity to future contact. Keep in touch and keep them engaged using personalized contacts until an appropriate job opening becomes available. Work to establish real relationships with passive job seekers and understand that it is a long-term commitment.

Another way to build that relationship is to send passive job seekers recruitment marketing materials via e-mail. This will help them learn more about the organization, and by sending it electronically, it will help you learn about who opens the e-mail blasts and what each recipient clicks on. You can also gather data on who is not opening the messages, who unsubscribes, etc. Those analytics can help you learn more about which candidates are more open to being recruited and which are not, as well as which marketing campaigns are working or which are not.

Step 5: Make the application process easy and tailored to passive job seekers

The last hurdle in targeting passive job seekers is to convince them to apply for the job. To do so, consider making the application process easy to access and to complete. According to SHRM’s Recruiting Checklist for Quality Hires, the best performers are often passive job seekers who lack either the interest or the time in going through a cumbersome application process.

Finally, if you get to the interview stage, there are a few things not to do when dealing with passive job seekers:

-Don’t question them as though they are active job seekers. Don’t ask “why should I hire you?” This may turn off passive job seekers.

-Don’t expect that they have conducted extensive research about your organization—remember, you came to them, they didn’t come to you.

-Don’t try to lure them with a similar job. Lure them with a job that offers additional responsibility or the opportunity to develop new skills and abilities.

While targeting passive job seekers is not an easy task, it can be well worth the effort. By focusing on building relationships and highlighting opportunities, your organization will be one step closer towards creating new recruitment connections and attracting top talent.

According to SHRM


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