Approaching a potential Candidate.  Your recruiting strategies when dealing with Active candidates vs Passive candidates

passive candidates

Whether you are calling someone who is actively looking for a job or you are headhunting a ‘passive’ candidate – the quality of approach is critical. Even the most desperate candidate may prefer to not pursue the opportunity is you sound too vague, know too little about the hiring company or a job, and in general do not speak their language. And, make sure you don’t come across as brash or rude. Your first conversation will set the tone for all the further communications, so make sure you are courteous, professional and respectful of their time. Here are a few must do’s and don’ts:

  • Start off with VERY quick introduction of yourself, mention that you are a recruiter and right away check if this is a good time to talk. DO NOT go with a spiel right off the bat. And don’t sound rushed.
  • If the timing is bad –  schedule another call and ALWAYS call back on time. If you haven’t communicated via email or text before – ask for an email address
  • Once you are good to go – the second question is to check if this is a good time in his or her life to consider another option. If your candidate is clearly looking for a job, this is where you can gain an understanding if they are already far along in the process and about to get an offer. Even so, they may still be interested in your opportunity, but you should know that this candidate may drop off any moment.

This is one very tricky step when working with a Passive candidate. The person may say no, just because they have a bonus pending in the end of the year. Don’t give up right away. Every so often the employer is eager to pay a sign-on bonus, covering candidate’s losses connected with a job change. That is of course if the candidate is awesome. But you somehow have to learn that. Don’t easily take a no for an answer and if they say no – just be friendly and ask why. You might be pleasantly surprised. You can even ask something like: “on a scale of one to five, where 1 is ‘I am so happy and I am sitting tight’ and 5 – ‘get me out of here’ – where would you place yourself?” You definitely can work with anyone from 2 and up, since if they did not answer ‘1’ – means something is up and they can move.

  • The next step is where you tell a very SHORT story, describe the company in a quick and attractive way, and state the job title. Don’t rush and DO NOT read the entire job description. Just large brush strokes. And then ask if this is something of interest.
  • Assuming that it is (this is where you learn if you identified the target titles right!), ask your candidate why do they think they could be good. Let them sell themselves a bit.

This could be not so easy when talking to a passive candidate. The best way would be to somewhat challenge them into selling themselves. Doubt them in something. As you are painting with your brushstrokes, say something opinionated, like: ‘One of the major requirement is to manage quite a large team, which I am not sure fits your profile…’. Let your candidate argue with you, but do it nicely of course, do not doubt any major qualification, set your doubt on a minor detail.

This is of course something you should be very well prepared for, and this is why we did our homework on the industry and direct competition [link} way before this stage. By this point you are already well aware about the slight differences of the seemingly same roles in your client’s company and their competition. Play on these differences. Does your client offer more freedoms? Better health care coverage? More vacation days? Bigger teams to manage? Cool office location?

  • Don’t be too pushy with either passive or active candidates. In the first case you will sound desperate, in the latter – insensitive or rude
  • Try to learn if there is anything that could prevent your candidate from accepting an offer at this time. You can ask this directly: ‘What events can stop your pursuit of this position?’ It can be a certain % of salary bump, a long delayed perk, promised by the employer. Once you know what can motivate (or demotivate) your candidate – it will be easier to negotiate his or her new offer.

The takeaway from this chapter: When approaching a candidate, make sure that:

  1. Your conversation is convenient for your candidate
  2. They are able or desire to consider the opportunity you are presenting
  3. You told a compelling story and candidate is relevant
  4. Candidate is able to sell him or herself
  5. You did not push too hard
  6. You know what can stop your candidate from considering your opportunity


Recruiting Academy Chapters:

Welcome to LineHire’s Recruiting Academy

Intro: A note about recruiting challenges

Recruiting Strategies:  Less is more

Do your homework on the client

Do your homework on the job order

Job descriptions

Industry research

Make a list

Approaching candidates

Candidate presentation

Candidate journey

Job offers

Job placement follow-up

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