How to engage a passive talent pool

Posted in Employers

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 16 April, 2021

Since the start of the pandemic last year, the use of technology, software and innovation to adapt to the ‘new normal’ has skyrocketed. From the boom in use of applications such as Microsoft Office, to the creation of new apps to make virtual business work seamlessly, the need for comprehensive and experienced IT and Tech talent has never been so high.

However, as we experience this heightened demand for candidates, there is a lack of available talent in the IT and Tech sector. Employers are facing a record shortage of candidates as a direct consequence of the pandemic, and it is wreaking havoc with the ever-growing skills gaps many businesses are facing. This is especially true across mid- and senior-level roles where niche expertise is required, along with years of extensive knowledge.

With the volatility of the virus, and the jobs market, potential candidates are nervous to move, opting to stay in a secure role even if it means missing out on better benefits or even a higher salary. And because of this, the recruitment landscape is incredibly candidate-led. It’s not unusual for a typical candidate to have five job offers on the table, plus a counteroffer from their current employer.  

So, how can prospective employers attract passive talent in such a turbulent working environment?

Turn to recruiters’ ‘little black book’

Knowing where to start when looking for and engaging with passive talent can feel impossible. Getting as much help and insight as you can will make this task much easier.

Recruiters have access to a wealth of contacts and are constantly in touch with employees who are currently happy in their jobs. By engaging with a recruiter, not only are you more likely to be able to reach those who might not be actively looking for a role, but recruiters can help you identify the individuals who you might want to target too. They are a great way in to start those all-important conversations that could eventually lead to a hire.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Unlike active candidates who will be seeking out opportunities, passive talent will need a lot more persuading to consider talking to a recruiter or potential employer. They may be tempted to discuss an upcoming opportunity as long as the process works for them and their schedule, and that the role in discussion offers them something their current employer won’t be able to.

This will undoubtedly take a lot longer than usual recruitment processes and so patience is crucial, but it will most certainly pay off. Passive candidates are less likely to lie on their CVs, are more likely to have attained the skillset and expertise required in the role and are more likely to be  more loyal to the company.

Showcase what you can offer

While passive candidates aren’t actively hunting for a change, you never know what might catch their eye. Keep your business, and its offering, at the forefront of a candidate’s mind during a recruitment drive. Social media should be your go-to place for this, particularly LinkedIn. However, as employers look for more unique ways to capture the attention of talent, thinking outside the box could be beneficial.

From TikTok to gamification in emails, hosting a ‘speed dating’ event or creating a bold recruitment video; the opportunities are endless. At the forefront of all of these, however, should be three key messages as to why passive talent should sit up and listen to what you have to say. Perks and benefits, such as working from home, competitive salaries and positive company culture are key areas to highlight, especially post-COVID.

Keep in touch

Just because a candidate isn’t ready to make a move today, doesn’t meant that’ll still be the case in a few months’ time, particularly if the economy picks up. On average, a person will remain in the same job for about five years, and so the wait can be a long one for anyone looking to attract passive talent.

However, much like the hare and the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. Those employers who nurture and maintain strong relationships with potential candidates are far more likely to be the first point of contact when they are ready to move on. Not only have you invested time into this individual, which they will appreciate, but you will have more than likely provided brilliant advice and resources to them which has helped them grow and develop personally and professionally.

Even in usual times, a large percentage of the workforce are passive candidates, with only 15 per cent usually actively seeking a job. So, even as we begin to move out of the pandemic onto the road to recovery, these tips may be invaluable to you and your business in your next recruitment drive.


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Managing Director

I joined Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. I now own the business and love my job. I've a great team of consultants who work with me in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

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How to engage a passive talent pool

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