How to target passive candidates and build talent pools proactively

Talent management deserves as much focus as financial capital management in corporations

Jack Welch, Chairman & CEO, General Electric


In these modern times, when it is extremely difficult to find and retain talent, it is smarter for companies to build a pool of top potential passive candidates. Companies can no more have a response-based approach where they start looking only after the need arises. With an existing pool of candidates, they can now hire the perfect one with much greater efficiency.

Let’s break it down for you.

What is a talent pool?

Essentially, a talent pool is a database of talented and highly qualified individuals who, at some point, have shown an interest in working for your company. Maybe there is no opening currently or maybe they weren’t ideal for the role they applied to, but that doesn’t mean you forget about them.

Creating a database of such individuals would help you recruit efficiently when the need arises. All you need to do is keep them engaged and interested in your company.

Who are passive candidates?

Passive candidates are those who are currently employed and are not actively looking for a new job. But their extensive experience, high qualifications, and in-demand skills make them perfect for a role in your company.

They are generally happy working at their current company in the current role, but if a new and interesting opportunity would come up, they wouldn’t mind exploring it.

Why build a talent pool of passive candidates?

After understanding who passive candidates are and what talent pools are, it is important to understand why building talent pools of passive talent is one of the best strategies for any company. There are 4 main reasons for this.

  1. Less Demanding/Low Engagement

    Passive candidates are already employed and are not actively looking for a new job. Due to an already existing job, they are busy in their personal and professional lives and thus would not like to be disturbed by the constant bombardment of emails and messages or what has now become the new definition of engagement. They only want to be contacted with information that is relevant for them or an offer that makes sense.

    This makes the job easier for companies as well as they don’t have to worry about constantly engaging the talent pool and creating content specifically for the pool. A monthly or quarterly newsletter is more than enough to stay in contact.
  2. Higher skills & experience

    It is known that passive candidates are already employed and are not actively looking for a new job. Then why are companies looking for them specifically and not those who are actively searching for a job instead? Well, just like Bryan Mills from Taken, they have a very specific set of skills that makes them highly sought-after, and essentially that’s the reason why they currently have a satisfying job as well.

    Hence, it is imperative for companies and recruiters to be aware of the value these skills carry in the market and alter communication pieces accordingly
  3. Nurturing candidates

    With the high experience that these candidates carry, they don’t just look at the salary packages or the role, but also the kind of company and the people that they would be working with to understand if it would be a good fit for them.

    Engaging with the candidates for some time and giving them insights about the kind of company it is, would keep them interested in working there. So when the time comes, they don’t have to spend time to know more about the company.
  4. Most of the market is made of passive talent

    According to a report by LinkedIn, “70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job-searching“. In such a market scenario where most of the talent is passive, it is crucial, it makes no sense to hunt for the perfect candidate from the small pool of only 30% of the candidates.

How to target passive candidates?

  • Leverage social media: LinkedIn has always been the most useful recruiting tool,. However, 52% of hiring managers say that passive candidate recruiting has become less effective on LinkedIn because of oversaturation. Hence, in addition to LinkedIn, you could try using Twitter. You can leverage Twitter’s advanced search functionality, use industry-related keywords and hashtags, and refine your search based on location and other important criteria to look for passive candidates. Employers can also use targeted search capabilities on Facebook to find talented passive candidates. You can incorporate other social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat to attract passive candidates. For instance, you can create a sponsored Snapchat or Instagram advertisement as a post or story, showcasing your company culture and catching the attention of passive candidates.
  • Strengthen your brand: One great way to latch onto amazing passive candidates is by building a solid employer brand and describe the organization’s reputation as an employer. Passive candidates are often attracted to organizations with employment brands that align with their goals and values. Examples of strong employment brands include employers that are known for their support of diversity and inclusion, a fun, free-thinking workplace dedicated to innovation and collaborative contributions; dedication to professional development and growth, investment in long-term employment, and leadership opportunities, and more. Once your brand is established, the next thing to do is strengthen it so word gets out to passive candidates that your organization is a good place to work. 
  • Welcome employee referrals: Employee referrals are an efficient way to target passive candidates. Your team is first-hand proof of what you stand for as an employer brand. Hence, it is very important that they are your strongest advocates. Every employee in your organization has their networks and connections that often contain a significant number of candidates who might be a good fit for open positions within your company. Also, when recruiters reach out to passive job seekers, they may be hesitant to respond. However, they’re much more likely to consider an opportunity brought to them by a personal connection.
  • Invest in tools: Artificial Intelligence has changed every aspect of our life, and recruitment is not an exception. With automation tools, recruiters can locate passive candidates much quicker and more efficiently. AI can collect a wide variety of data from the web,  including resume details and social media activities of candidates. Based on this data, these tools can predict whether a passive candidate is open to switching jobs. This way, recruiters can prioritize those candidates.
  • Write engaging blogs: Many organizations are increasingly using blogs as a means to connect with potential clients, bring leads, and target passive candidates. You can begin by writing blog articles on topics that people in your industry would be interested in. With the increasing number of people who consume content on a daily basis and want to remain updated on the latest trends, several companies are using blogs to target potential passive candidates. 



In these modern times where companies are hunting for the perfect employees, it is critical for a recruiter to stay one step ahead of the game; and targeting passive candidates seems to be the perfect way to do that. With low engagement requirements and most sought after skills, these candidates are ideal for any company. Creating a pool of such candidates can help a company keep them in the loop, nurture them constantly, and hire them with much higher efficiency and ease as soon as an opening arises.

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