Sourcing and recruiting passive candidates takes a lot more finesse than when trying to attract active candidates to your company. While there are a lot of wrinkles that complicate the process, the biggest obstacle that you face when you try to get a passive candidate interested in your company is the fact that they don’t know you, and you don’t know them. Okay, so they might “know you” from the multitude of emails that you’ve been leaving in their inbox and you might “know them” as one of the leading professionals in whatever field they happen to be leading in; but this doesn’t help you to establish a workable relationship. When you’re trying to get somebody so interested in your job that they leave their current employer, how do you expect to make any headway until you know what makes the passive candidate interested in the first place?
Now, the first thing to get out of the way is the question of money. If you know that your passive candidate feels underpaid at their current job, then you absolutely have a lead on getting them over to your side of the fence. This, however, does not mean that the promise of a salary increase will be your best tool, or even an effective tool with every passive candidate. The reason that it works when you know that the candidate desires it is precisely because you’re offering them something that they care about that their current job isn’t providing. This goes true for any aspect of their current position: inflexible hours, a supervisor with a grudge, a lack of autonomy or authority on projects or even a company culture that alienates them. It could even be that they get embarrassed about how dull their job sounds when explaining what they do to other people!
Whatever problems a passive candidate has with their current employer, it’s your job to find them out and then use that information to tailor your pitch to their specific case. The best way to find out about what’s not sitting right with a professional about their job is pretty simple: ask them. Now, getting your relationship with the candidate to where you can actually have such a candid conversation is a little trickier, but by no means impossible.
For a little on the art of relationship building as well as the science behind it is Robin Dreeke, head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. In his interview with Business Insider, Robin says that the best way to strengthen interpersonal relationships is to, “make it all about them.” The science behind why this technique is so effective has a lot to do with what goes on in our heads when we relate to others, “Our brain rewards us chemically when we are able to talk and share our own views, priorities, and goals with others… long term, short term, etc.” This is means that our brain is forming positive chemical connections to people when we tell them our life story.
This means that your first contact with a candidate should be a bit less business oriented than maybe you’re used to. In order to find out what the candidate really wants out of their next job, you need to convince them that you’re interested in listening to what they have to say. Don’t throw a bunch of figures and perks in their face, ask them what would would make a dream job for them. If a candidate divulges their desires and goals to you, you’ve both strengthened your personal relationship with them and given yourself the framework of the pitch that will eventually coax them away from their current employer. People want to know that they’re being listened to and demonstrating that you listened to what they want out of their next job will do a great deal for your chances of convincing talent to go with the offer you’re giving them.