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Recruiting Passive Candidates Using Social Media

February 26th, 2014

Social media recruiting is becoming more conventional as an increasing number of employers are realizing the overall benefits, both short and long-term. Using social media to build relationships with potential candidates for future positions that may become available is a great strategy that can pay back immensely later. Engaging with talent gets them on your radar and in your social spaces. Find ways to connect and interact on topics of common interest. Look for the discussions they are making, what they are saying and how they are interacting with others.

Active Candidates vs. Passive Candidates

Active candidates are those that are currently looking for a job. This may not mean that these candidates are necessarily unemployed. These individuals are easier to find than passive candidates since they are actively creating a presence on job boards, social media and other networking sites in order to stay within the scope of recruiters. Passive candidates on the other hand, are those that are not actively seeking jobs, are currently employed and not looking for immediate change. They should not be ignored, since they make up 64% of the US workforce. A great advantage to recruiting passive candidates is that they are typically not interviewing or working with the competition. The disadvantage is that recruiters spend much more time pursuing these candidates, while many eager, active candidates are motivated to secure a position immediately. Certain individuals may be considered both active and passive. For example, an individual who discreetly begins responding to job postings after hearing rumors of a merger and RIF list.

Whereas passive candidates aren’t taking steps to look for a new job, they may still be interested in changing jobs if presented with an exceptional opportunity. The assumption is, for those niche, hard-to-find job orders, searching passive candidates is more productive because they are more often highly employable, currently employed and sought after in their industry.

How to recruit Passive Candidates

One reason a candidate maybe passive is because they want to remain confidential about their job search. They don’t want their employer or colleagues to know they’re seeking alternatives. They don’t want to broadcast, so may join industry specific talent communities such as online discussion groups. Recruiters may monitor these groups with special attention to key contributors, but must be cautious about their recruitment efforts in this situation.

Sometimes you may see a passive candidate that fits the profile of your job description absolutely perfectly, but you’re not sure how to approach them or whether it is the right time to act. Ask the right questions, like many others, passive candidates have a vision to move up the ladder of success and what their next career step should be.

Be Out there

In order to reach out to certain passive candidates you need to reach out to them. This does not mean that you are always around or start making immediate offers. Start by getting into their social sphere and building a rapport. Blogging is a great way to discreetly connect with talent. If your candidate runs or participates in a blog, follow it regularly, engage them in conversation and post meaningful comments. It will enable you to build a relationship and after time progresses, you can make them an offer that they’d be willing to consider.

Current Database

Take a dip into your current database and find someone that may not have been a good fit for a particular position, but may be perfect for another. Since you already have certain information, you can find out the remainder through social media. Since you already have personal history with them, you will have an easier time of finding and connecting with them on social media.


LinkedIn is the greatest resource for passive candidates. Not only do candidates have a presence there, they interact with those within the sphere increasing your chances of creating a relationship with them. Search for the discussions that your talent takes part in and join them. LinkedIn resources offer a wealth of opportunity to identify talent. It can be overwhelming; a good strategy is to apply the 80/20 rule by focusing on the 20% that will produce 80% of your results. Keep in mind, although passive candidates are not seeking work today—they maybe tomorrow.

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