4 October 2017

12 strategies to attract passive talent

The ability to attract passive candidates can be the difference between hiring the very best talent in your industry and losing them to your competitors. There are various strategies brands can use which often prove more cost effective and successful than traditional recruitment.


Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell

Barry Chignell worked in Ciphr's marketing team from 2012-2020.


Recruitment and retention Talent management


The ability to attract passive candidates can be the difference between hiring the very best talent in your industry and losing them to your competitors. There are various strategies brands can employ to attract and engage potential applicants which often also prove more cost effective and successful than traditional recruitment methods.

1. Get involved in conversations online

online influence

Researching a company will inevitably lead passive talent to your social profile(s) and associated activity.

Making efforts to remain connected and engaged with professionals on social networks helps to illustrate your brand’s commitment to your industry and also build awareness, influence and perceived expertise. All qualities which prove very attractive to potential candidates.

Asking relevant and thoughtful questions to encourage feedback and discussion, helping others with their queries and generally getting involved in relevant forums will demonstrate that your brand makes time and is committed to helping educate and assist others as well as show an interest in their views.

People want to work for a brand that’s not only successful but also shows an active interest in their field.

2. Encourage employee referrals and advocacy

Enabling and encouraging employees contribute to your recruitment strategy is very effective in a number of ways. Not only are word-of-mouth and personal recommendations a very powerful form of marketing but they’re also low cost too.

employee advocacyEmployee referral programs help to encourage your workforce to spread your brand messaging and advocate a career at your company.
Ensuring that employees are engaged and treated well by the business will improve the likelihood of referrals occurring naturally as well as increasing productivity and happiness within the workforce.
A happy, openly engaged and enthusiastic employee will share their experiences of the brand culture and messaging with their social networks. If every employee has 100 friends and family members in their social circle then your potential talent pool is hugely increased.

Employees have 10 times more followers than their corporate social media accounts. (Source: Cisco)

Candidates referred to your business by friends or family are quicker to hire than traditional candidates too.
According to a study by JobVite, it takes an average of 29 days to hire a candidate referred by a friend or family member, compared to 39 days from a job posting or 55 days through a career site.

With no agency fees and relatively little time invested directly by the recruitment team to attract (other than administering referral/advocacy schemes etc) referred talent are also more cost effective to hire and will stay at your company longer, reducing turnover costs and building on employee expertise and advocacy.

3. Flex your expertise

Demonstrating your brand expertise and that of your employees will encourage talent who are looking to work for industry leaders.
Those applicants that are searching for the next challenge to further their career will be seeking companies that demonstrate their expertise through the content they share and interaction with followers and peers.

Why work for a business that isn’t seen as an expert in their field?

Influence and expertise can be increased and nurtured using a variety of strategies, such as:

  • Writing guest posts and articles for industry blogs and magazines
  • Engaging in online discussions and forums
  • Partner with other industry experts
  • Provide speakers to industry events

4. Follow and engage with your target talent

Once you’ve identified your target audience you can begin to target specific channels and even individuals as part of your recruitment strategy.

Answering relevant questions and offering advice helps to build influence and trust with talent and attract them to your brand.
Using platforms such as Quora you can easily target certain individuals and groups of like-minded professionals to answer questions, offer their opinion and give advice about your industry. This type of engagement helps to build rapport, allows you to assess their expertise, gives you an impression of their personality industry expertiseand increases the chances of future interest in your brand’s job openings.

Simply following certain individuals on social channels, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, will help to increase brand awareness and engagement. Following professionals will also help you to better understand their other interests which, in turn, will allow you to engage with them on other levels.

5. Maintain a useful and relevant company blog

Ensuring that you have a relevant and frequently updated company blog shows that you take an interest in industry news and trends.

Writing about and discussing topical stories will not only help you to stay up to date with what’s happening in your sector but also helps to attract engagement from your audience and interest in future vacancies.

A company blog will also increase the number of web searches that lead to your brand online, increasing brand awareness and influence.

6. Be transparent

People aren’t interested in working for a business that offers no insight into what it’s like to work as part of their team.
Sharing insider news and employee stories all help to illustrate what the culture is like and what a great place to work your brand is.

Honesty, openness and showing a fun and less formal view of life at your brand is key to portraying your company as an attractive proposition for passive (and active) talent. According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends report 66% of candidates care most about company culture, 54% about the perks offered and 50% consider the brand mission a priority.

Telling your story as a business will help to answer these questions and provide a clearer picture of your brand identity to potential applicants.

Regular updates from senior members of staff tell your brands stories from a different point of view and demonstrate participation and interest from all levels in the social side of the business.

7. Show purpose and passion

It’s no longer the case that the salary associated with a role is the only element talent cares about. Purpose and fulfillment are top of the agenda for many individuals, whether actively seeking a new role or not.

Buy demonstrating WHY your brand does what it does you’ll help to attract applicants that are passionate and have a drive to achieve goals rather than simply getting a job to pay the bills.
Going the extra mile as an employer will help to illustrate passion and a drive to provide the very best service.

If you’re hiring mediocre applicants that aren’t passionate about what they or their employer does then not only will that be reflected in your products and services but your culture will suffer as a result.

recruitment strategy

8. Think longer term

Hiring for the moment will limit your talent pool to those applicants available at that specific time as well as damage the quality of hire. Although there will always be certain vacancies that are unexpected and can’t be planned it’s important to think long term and take the time strategise to hire the right people for the right roles as frequently as possible.

Giving yourself enough time to nurture passive talent will enable you to reach more individuals and target top talent without feeling rushed.

Recruitment efforts for roles that may not even be officially available can be running in the background, reducing administration for the HR and recruitment departments when the need arises for those particular vacancies to be filled.

9. Talent attracts talent

Hiring the right talent will help to increase and improve employee referrals and advocacy as well as building the right culture.
With the right talent working for you, it makes your employer brand that bit more attractive and may be the difference between you and the competition.

Studies show that engaged employees are 50% more productive and 33% more profitable. They’re also responsible for 56% higher customer loyalty scores and correlated with 44% higher retention rates.

Quite often top talent will have a network of friends and acquaintances that would also be a great addition to your company whom they can refer.

10. Employer brand and talent brand wins

All of the above points are elements of maintaining a healthy employer brand. Treating your employees well and promoting what a great place your company is to work should never be forgotten or neglected.

If your employees are doing the recruitment for you then you’re doing something right and you should make efforts to continue and improve on the formula.
If they’re not, then the likelihood is that things need to be improved in order to capitalise on the benefits that having a great employer/talent brand offer.

11. Get your job ads right

targeting the right talentMaking efforts to get your job ads right is key to a successful recruitment campaign. Most passive talent will need to be persuaded to take an interest in the vacancies you’re advertising.

Simply listing duties and a brief description may well get you applicants but they probably won’t be the ones who show passion and have been enticed even though they’re successful in their existing role.

Illustrating some or all of the above points will help to build a great job advert that will draw the attention of top talent to your brand.
Posting your advert in the right places will also help to target the right individuals. Using social media, both standard and sponsored, you can reach a large audience of relevant and passionate professionals.

12. Don’t betray trust

If you betray the trust of those individuals that have made the decision to follow and engage with you then you’ll likely never be able to rebuild it. In order to gain and maintain the respect of passive candidates you need to demonstrate that your brand can be trusted and isn’t adding their details to a sales database or similar.

Business updates are one form of communication that could bring tangible benefits to followers that have shown an interest in the business but these should be restricted to those that have proactively opted in to receive them.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether your email will be considered spam then consider the following:

  • The recipients requested it
  • The email arrives in a timely manner
  • The email is relevant to the needs of the recipient
  • The email allows the recipient to quickly grasp who sent it and what it’s all about
  • The recipient can stop getting the emails easily and any time

Source: Email-marketing-reports