Employers: Don’t Overlook Passive Job Seekers

Employers: Don’t Overlook Passive Job Seekers

As they fight competition for talent, employers are looking for any opportunity to get in front of highly qualified candidates. The recent jobs report showed that there are nearly two jobs open for every unemployed job seeker. And it is no doubt that employers are feeling the pressure, with a recent Achievers Report stating that 66% of HR leaders responded that the labor shortage is getting worse.

To get in front of talented professionals, employers should look beyond their applicant pool and consider focusing recruitment efforts on other avenues, such as passive candidates. Passive job seekers are candidates that are not actively searching for new job opportunities but are open to exploring other career options, and they make up quite a large portion of the US workforce. In fact, a study by Workable found that passive job seekers make up 37.3% of US workers.

Kathy Cali, Senior Recruiting Account Manager at Hunter International explains, “Passive candidates may seem happy in their current role but are ready and willing to jump to a new job that offers growth, benefits, or other perks that are important to them.” She continues, “These candidates require a different recruitment approach, often meeting them where they are.” Cali explains, “At Hunter, our recruitment team has identified unique strategies to engage passive job seekers with the complex roles we are recruiting on for our clients.”

In this article, we will explore the motivations and characteristics of job seekers and discuss methods that employers can utilize to target this group of job seekers.

Characteristics of Passive Job Seekers

Before we explore the ways to attract and engage passive job seekers, it is important to understand where they are and what motivates them. Workable’s study shows that the highest sectors with passive candidates are accounting and finance with passive job seekers making up 58.1% of candidates, education with 47.1%, retail with 45.6% and healthcare with 45.5%. However, it is important to note that even the sectors that have the lowest proportion of passive candidates still have significant numbers. For example, technology, which is noted in the report as one of the sectors with the lowest proportion of passive candidates, is made up of 35.2% of passive candidates. When looking at the industry as a whole, this can still add up to a large amount of passive job seekers.

Additionally, while passive job seekers can be found in different company sizes, the highest numbers of passive candidates can be found in larger organizations. According to the  , companies with 5000+ full time employees are made up of 48.2% of passive job seekers and companies with 100-4999 full time employees have 45.8% of passive job seekers.

Job level also appears to be a factor, with managers, directors (48.2%) and individual contributors (46.6%) having the highest numbers of passive candidates. VP, SVP had the lowest passive candidates with 27.3%.

Having knowledge of where to look for passive job seekers is the first step in identifying, engaging, and attracting them to an organization.

Motivations of Passive Job Seekers

It’s no doubt that passive job seekers can be found in almost every industry, level and company type. But what does it take to get them to leave their current role?

In its 2023 Engagement and Retention Report, Achievers found that work flexibility, career progression, compensation and lack of recognition were the highest response choices for the main reasons why candidates consider switching jobs. On the flip side, the main reasons employees would stay at their current employer are work flexibility, a strong sense of belonging, a strong relationship with their manager, career progression and compensation.

Additionally, a study conducted by CareerArc asked passive job seekers, “If pay and standard health benefits were equal, which would make you apply to one job over another?” Their responses included remote work, positive employer reputation and diversity hiring goals and initiatives.

With this in mind, it’s clear that there is no one reason that will motivate a passive job seeker to leave their organization. This is why employers that want to target this group need to offer wholistic benefits and promote a culture of employee recognition and well-being.

Tactics For Targeting Passive Job Seekers

1. Create an Effective Employer Branding Strategy

A company’s brand encompasses everything from the way a company’s website looks, to the tone of voice used on its social media profiles, to the organization’s mission and values. An employer brand is just that but focuses on the company as an employer – and it has been positively linked to hiring. Recent studies show that 84% of organizations believe that a well-maintained employer brand helps them hire quality talent.

An effective employer brand paints an accurate picture of what it is like to work for an organization. Companies can make employer branding efforts on their website, social media, advertising, employee referrals and more. Content can include photos from inside the office or at company-sponsored events as well as information about what causes/organizations the employer supports. All employee benefits should be promoted, including health benefits, retirement plan options, maternity/paternity leave, flexibility and others. Additionally, any perks, such as tuition reimbursement, free snacks, professional development programs and others are also helpful to promote.

By keeping new and relevant employer-branded content updated online, companies can increase awareness about their organization and be more attractive overall to passive candidates.

2. Utilize Industry Experts

A time-saving and effective option for attracting passive candidates is to work with a recruitment firm. These agencies have specialized recruitment tools and innovative hiring practices to find, attract and engage passive candidates. Often, these organizations are also quicker at filling roles than traditional human resources teams. For example, Hunter International Recruiting fills IT positions 23 days faster than the industry average.

By outsourcing recruitment efforts, companies can focus on other tasks while the recruitment firm works on their behalf to locate, source and screen qualified candidates for their roles.

Interested in learning more about Hunter’s workforce solutions? Contact us today!

3. Invest in Hiring Tools

In today’s world of advancing technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation, employers have many different tools at their fingertips to aid their hiring practices. One of the first things employers should consider is their applicant tracking system (ATS). ATS systems are a great tool to organize and track passive candidates who may have previously expressed interest in a company or might be open to new opportunities in the future.

Beyond ATS systems, employers should think about implementing tools such as chatbots, texting platforms and other automated tools to help support candidate engagement. These technologies can provide interested candidates with additional information regarding the role or company, keep candidates informed on new opportunities with the organization and ensure data is up-to-date in the company’s records. By investing in technologies such as these, employers can expand their reach and become a top-of-mind employer for passive job seekers.

4. Retain Your Current Team

Employers, especially those interested in hiring passive candidates, should make efforts to retain their current workforce. To start, just as they are targeting passive candidates, other employers are likely targeting their employees. To build on their workforce, organizations should invest in employee engagement and well-being and consider employee benefits. A study from Zippia found that over 80% of employees whose employers are engaged in their wellness say they enjoy work and of those, about 85% say they intend to stay at their jobs.

In addition to retaining employees, by investing in their current workforce, employers can also stand out to passive candidates. Increasing benefits and employee wellbeing can be shared to enhance employer branding efforts and these benefit offers can also be shared with passive candidates. Furthermore, if current employees are happy in their role, they may be more likely to share their experience online, refer others and express their positive opinions with others.

Passive candidates are a sometimes-overlooked avenue for bringing in top talent. Employers that take the time to strategically target this group can find, attract and hire top talent for their organization.


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