4 Tips to Proactively Turn Passive Prospects Into Engaged Candidates

Job seekers have more clout today than perhaps at any time in history.

The combination of the pandemic and Great Resignation has triggered a tight labor market where workers have the means to seek and gain more flexible schedules, greater work-life balance, and better pay. This has left employers with a pressing priority to proactively recruit prospects.

Indeed, you simply can’t afford to be passive. Now is the time to engage prospects early, efficiently, and in a very personalized way; to sell people on everything your company has to offer. And to approach workers who are happy in their current roles with a compelling case for leaving or at least considering it.

It is therefore my pleasure to provide 4 helpful and useful tips on finding, engaging, and converting great talent into top-notch candidates who choose your company over the competition.

1. Build a (personal) relationship

From three decades of executive recruitment, I can tell you with great confidence relationship building is a cornerstone of proactive recruitment. Relationships are nurtured right from the very first phone call, email, or LinkedIn message you send to a prospect, throughout the interviewing stages and continuously thereafter. Even if a candidate doesn’t choose your company today, they may very well in the future. And if they don’t, but have a solid relationship with you, they are more than likely to refer their friends and colleagues to your organization.

How do you foster these relationships on a personal level? Invest time in getting to know your prospects. Learn what their hobbies and interests are. Maybe they coach a sports team or are in a community theatre group. If you know these types of personal details, when you speak with them, the communications won’t simply be transactional; they’ll become personal, open, frequent, and genuine, resulting in an enduring relationship. This will create a sense of trust and appreciation that you truly care about helping them find a job.

You must also extensively research their key accomplishments, core competencies, and job experiences. Ask them what they would seek in a role with a new company. Keep in mind when recruiting proactively, people typically need to be encouraged to leave their job for your organization, so dig deep to see what will intrigue them about your organization and prompt them to make a move.

2. Create a talent community

A talent community is a forum to cultivate a pipeline of passive candidates who are interested in your company but aren’t ready to apply for a position. Ideally, the talent community will help connect with these prospects based on specific criteria, such as their job history, work they’ve done with industry associations, their skillsets, alumni groups, etc. This information is gleaned from your direct interactions with them, or from people who cruised your site and consented to learn more about your business.

Work with your marketing department to develop online talent communities whereby such forums as your social media pages, career portal, e-newsletter, or perhaps Google reviews are leveraged to pique the interest of prospects based on the aforementioned criteria. For example, there could be thought leadership articles from your executive team members on LinkedIn, videos on your YouTube channel featuring employees talking about how your organization helped them develop new skill sets, or blog posts with real-world career advice. To that end, according to a survey conducted by TalentTech, 77% of people who visited a talent community wanted more information about career development.

The goal is to showcase content about your company culture, employee activities, and organizational wins, as well as provide useful advice. This will help drive people’s inclination to either want to work for you or at the very least, nurture a positive impression of your company.

3. Highlight your employer brand

Candidates are yearning for organizations with strong, dynamic, and robust corporate cultures. Research shows that 47% of job seekers cite a company’s culture as ‘their driving reason’ when looking for work. The same study found that 91% of managers in the U.S. say a candidate’s alignment with the company culture is equal to or more important than skills and experience. That being said, your organization must tell compelling stories about your culture. As noted by HR Daily Advisor, with culture stories, “candidates will be able to feel what it’s really like to work at your company.”

Look far and wide within your organization to find the most powerful stories that articulate your culture on a personal level. Like a movie or book, these stories will prompt passive candidates into being active, engaged ones who are ripe for recruiting.

Ultimately, showcasing the values that define your organization, communicating real-life examples of employees’ pride in their work and workplace, and demonstrating the dynamism of your culture will shape what your employer brand is and truly differentiate your company.

4. Speed up and enhance the interview process

So here we are. The critical stage where candidates have been nailed down and it’s time to really get to know them through interviews. Because of talent scarcity, people are frequently interviewing with multiple organizations, simultaneously. That means the clock to impress them is ticking and as much as you’re interviewing them, they are interviewing your organization, too. If they don’t enjoy the experience, the competition will very quickly seem far more appealing.

Consider the case of Mike Conley, a 49-year-old software engineer from Indiana who was doing the interview rounds with several companies for a director role last year. After three rounds at one organization, he was informed there would be another six rounds. The excessive time turned him off, so he pulled himself out of the running and wrote about his experience on LinkedIn. More than 2.5 million people read his post. “I thought that for people who had been on similar paths, it was good to put it out there and let them know that they’re not alone,” Conley told the BBC.

The lesson of Conley’s story is in today’s candidate-driven market, you simply cannot be slow and bureaucratic with interviews. The interview experience needs to be pleasant and streamlined. If not, you’ll drive away good talent. Google, for example, recently examined its past interview data and determined that four interviews were enough to make a hiring decision with 86% confidence.

Proactive recruiting is a necessity in today’s market and this will likely be the case for some time. If you follow the key steps outlined here, you have a much better shot of encouraging prospects the role at your organization is worth making the big move.

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