Sourcing Passive Candidates: Techniques that Work

The major challenge that any recruiter faces is finding suitable talent for the job opening. Even if you get a lot of applications, none of them might have the right skills and qualifications for the job.

This is because most ideal job candidates are likely already employed. These candidates are generally referred to as passive candidates.

According to LinkedIn, passive candidates account for 75% of the existing candidate market. Therefore, it is important that recruiters expand their talent pool beyond the active candidates.

But it is usually hard for recruiters to get the attention of passive candidates. Most specifically, if they are happy with their current jobs, they would not apply for the open positions. But this does not mean that recruiters should not reach out to them.

For your reference, in this blog, we have compiled a list of the top techniques that can be used to source passive candidates. But first, let us understand who the passive candidates are.

What is a Passive Candidate?

Passive candidates are individuals who are already employed and are not actively looking for a new job. However, they may be open to considering a new job if they feel it is a good fit and meets their career goals.

Here is a quick look at the difference between active candidates vs. passive candidates.

Active candidates are people who are actively looking for jobs. They are the ones sending in resumes and are immediately available for interviews. On the other hand, passive candidates are the people who already have the job. Even though they are not actively looking for work, that does not mean they will not be interested in discussing new opportunities. However, they do not apply organically and may not be available immediately. Often, recruiters have to do the chasing.

What is Passive Candidate Sourcing?

In a traditional hiring procedure, you advertise a job opening and then wait for candidates to apply. Whereas in the case of sourcing of passive candidate, the process begins when recruiters start approaching candidates proactively, irrespective of whether the candidate is explicitly looking for a job or not. You can match such candidates on the basis of their skills, experience, or interests.

Why Do We Need a Hiring Strategy for Passive Candidates?

There are several reasons why a company might want to include passive candidates in their hiring strategy:

  • Build a Stronger Pipeline

Only when your interviewers speak to more people, can they get the right talent onboard. Even if somebody is not looking for a job actively, they might accept the invitation to discuss once they are told about an interesting opportunity.  This helps add to the recruitment funnel.

  • Get high-value candidates

Often the best candidates do not post their interest on job portals such as Naukri or LinkedIn. It is important that recruiters approach such candidates proactively and pitch the position based on interests and fitment.

  • Diversify channels

Including passive candidates in the hiring process can help a company diversify its channels for getting fresh CVs.

Overall, targeting passive candidates can be a good way to find top talent that may not be actively seeking new job opportunities.

How to Source Passive Candidates?

Let’s have a look at some of the effective sourcing strategies recruiters can leverage to attract passive candidates:

Leverage Existing Database

This tactic may be obvious, but it is often overlooked by recruiters when they are figuring out how to source passive candidates. There is a good chance that the perfect candidate for a job opening is already in your database, whether you are using an applicant tracking system or still doing recruitment manually. If you have been using an applicant tracking system (ATS) for a long time, you probably already have a lot of great candidates to choose from.

This allows you to capitalise on previous efforts while saving you time from pursuing fresh candidates. Moving ahead, make sure you do not delete any notes or history associated with current applicants, even if they do not seem to fit the bill. You never know when you might need them.

Use Automation Tools

Every facet of modern recruiting and applicant sourcing has been transformed by advanced technologies. Recruiters can now employ artificial intelligence (AI) to their advantage when sourcing passive candidates. The AI technology crawls job search engines in order to collect and assess a large number of candidate databases. It includes their resume information to match the specified vacancies. With this information, AI-based tools predict which passive candidates will be interested in switching jobs. Consequently, letting the recruiters prioritize and attract passive candidates easily.

Build a Referral Program

Current employees are usually one of the best sources of new talent for recruiters. Referrals have been an important part of modern recruiting strategies for a long time.

In fact, 78% of recruiters say that referral is how they find their best candidates.

Obviously, each employee has his or her own connections and networks. Most of the time, these networks have many high-quality applicants who are the right fit for any organization. But it can be hard to get passive candidates if there are not any big incentives. A study shows that most passive candidates are normally reluctant to respond to a recruiter. Yet, close observation shows that they tend to reply to a recruiter with ease if approached through a personal connection.

Market Your Employer Brand

In today’s job market, having a strong employer brand is essential. Today’s best talent is picky about the brands for which they work, with a clear preference for organisations that share values such as diversity, equity, sustainability, and social responsibility.

Exceptional learning and career development opportunities are also crucial to millennials; thus, they must be highlighted as part of a rewarding work culture. Demonstrate these values by having current employees serve as brand ambassadors, using their social media handles and word of mouth to spread the word about the impactful initiatives that are being run and the advantages that are being gained. Use the company’s social media handles to share CEO messages, positive employee experiences, and customer testimonials about the value of the company’s products and services.

Explore Networking Events

Many passive candidates considering a career shift attend networking events to keep in touch with people in their field. Make it a point to network and go to events that your ideal candidates would be interested in, whether they are directly related to your industry or are just hobbies or side projects that they usually do.

You can build a relationship with potential passive applicants by introducing yourself and getting to know them before giving them job opportunities. People are much more likely to respond to someone they have met in person or built a relationship with.

Use Social Media Platforms

Recruiting on social media is also considered to be an effective passive candidate sourcing technique in recent times. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are now prominent social platforms for identifying excellent prospects for recruitment.

Potential applicants frequently utilise LinkedIn to notify the global community of their availability for career changes.

Recruiters have turned to Facebook and Twitter, in addition to LinkedIn, to advertise their jobs via publishing on social media. These social recruiting platforms can also be utilised to find the right candidate profiles. Recruiters and hiring managers can study and monitor potential candidates’ profiles and behaviour more closely. They can now determine whether these prospects are a good fit for their employment criteria.


Passive candidates are not a quick solution to fill important positions, but they are a good long-term investment, especially if your company often has trouble finding people with the right skills and experience. It takes time, practice, and foresight to learn how to find passive talent, but once you do, it will be like a well-oiled machine that lets you hire the best people in your industry.

Techniques to source passive candidates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts