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Dec 15, 2014 4:00:00 AM / by Sandra M. Smith

When hiring new talent, it is important for hiring managers to understand whether  the  candidates  they are pursuing are active or passive candidates. To distinguish  between  the two, an active  candidate is any candidate who is already active in the  job  marketplace – this candidate is  enthusiastically pursuing new jobs and is highly    engaged in his or her search. A passive candidate,  on the other hand, is one that is  not  actively seeking a new position. He or she currently has a  comfortable position  and is  not involved in a job search. However, passive candidates are often  preferable to  employers because they are sought out by recruiters specifically for  their skills and  expertise. Passive candidates often have a stable work history, are  very engaged in  their current  role, and have many accomplishments. While many  hiring managers  prefer these passive  candidates, they also often require special  care and attention that  should not be overlooked.

Passive candidates are not currently seeking new positions, however, once a  recruiter  connects  with them and presents them with a position they find  interesting, this can  change. Although they  aren’t in need of new job, there is  something about the  presented position that attracts them.  Perhaps the brand of  the company, the  possibility of a more exciting role, or an opportunity for  growth is  enough to make  them consider a new job. Now that the candidate is considering  leaving  his or her  current position, he or she may start to wonder: what else is out  there? This is an  important stage that hiring managers need to recognize because if  the candidate does  not have a  positive experience throughout the hiring process,  the candidate may  decide to look elsewhere.

So what can hiring managers do to keep passive candidates engaged and  interested  throughout the hiring process? Below are some key tips to remember:

  • Be responsive to your internal and external recruiters: If candidates are waiting for days to hear back whether they have made it through to the next step of the hiring process, they are likely to become frustrated and lose interest in the prospective company. It is important for hiring managers to respond quickly to their recruiters with developments and feedback, to avoid losing candidates.
  • Employee recruiters who will engage the candidate: If you know that your company’s hiring process tends to be lengthy, it is important to communicate that to your recruiters, who will in turn communicate that to the candidates. However, the recruiter’s job does not end there. Good recruiters will follow up with candidates frequently, giving them feedback and encouragement throughout the hiring process. The candidate will have no doubt that the company is still interested in him or her. Remember: Uncertainty is the FASTEST way to lose passive candidates. Once they believe they are no longer a priority they will move on to other prospects.
  • A quick hiring process doesn’t make up for a poor candidate experience: Although candidates do desire a speedy on-boarding process, it is important that companies don’t lose sight of the importance of maintaining a personal touch during the hire. Remember, candidates desire an interactive process as well. If a candidate is deciding between two companies: one with a quick but impersonal onboarding process, versus another with a slightly slower time to hire but a much more interactive experience, the client will generally chose the company with which they have had a more personal, engaging experience.
  • Understand that how you treat potential employees “brands” you:Candidates, especially passive candidates, view the hiring process as a trial run of what to expect within the company. Are you slow to respond to candidates’ questions? Do you not provide adequate feedback? Are there days of silence between contacting candidates? The candidate will view this as an example of how they will be treated once they are hired. If their experience is negative, they may decide that such an impersonal work environment is not for them. They may choose to stay in the job they currently have, or look for a company that has a more personal touch.

By following these strategies, hiring managers can stay competitive and ensure that they are attracting the best talent in the market. By practicing good communication during the onboarding process, hiring managers can make their job much more productive in the long run – they will not have the need to interview as many candidates, because the candidates that they want will return their interest. However, a sloppy onboarding process can damage a company’s image and make it less desirable to potential talent. By nurturing a healthy relationship among themselves, their recruiters and their candidates, hiring managers can win the talent they need.

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