Recruitment Strategy

Recruiting Passive Candidates

The talent acquisition scene is more competitive than ever in 2023. With a global shortage of human talent, a skills gap among applicants, and a high turnover rate among new hires, recruiters face many challenges in finding and retaining the best talent for their organizations.

One of the strategies that recruiters can use to overcome these challenges is to target passive candidates. Passive candidates are those who are not actively looking for a job, but may be open to new opportunities if they are approached by the right employer. Recruiting passive candidates can offer many benefits for employers, such as accessing a larger and more diverse talent pool, reducing hiring costs and time, and improving retention and performance.

However, recruiting passive candidates is not easy. It requires a different approach than recruiting active candidates, who are actively applying for jobs and are more responsive to traditional recruitment methods. Passive candidates need to be identified, engaged, and persuaded to consider a career change. In this article, we will discuss what passive candidates are, how they differ from active candidates, what they are looking for and what they are not looking for, how to find them, how to engage them, and why recruiting them is beneficial for your organization.

What Is a Passive Candidate?

A passive candidate is someone who is currently employed and satisfied with their current job, but maybe open to hearing about new opportunities if they are contacted by a recruiter or an employer.

  • Passive candidates are not actively looking for a job, nor are they applying for jobs or posting their resumes online.
  • They may not even have an updated resume or a LinkedIn profile.
  • However, they may be interested in learning about new career options if they are presented with an attractive offer that matches their skills, interests, and goals.

The Difference Between Active and Passive Candidates

Active candidates are those who are actively looking for a job, either because they are unemployed or unhappy with their current job. They are actively applying for jobs online or offline, posting their resumes on job boards or social media platforms, networking with contacts, and attending career fairs or events. They are more likely to respond to job ads, emails, calls, or messages from recruiters or employers. They are also more likely to have an updated resume and a LinkedIn profile that showcases their skills and achievements.

While passive candidates are different from active candidates in many ways. They are less likely to respond to traditional recruitment methods such as job ads or emails. They are more selective about the opportunities they consider and the employers they engage with. They need more information and persuasion to make a career move. They may also have higher expectations and demands regarding the compensation, benefits, culture, and growth opportunities offered by the potential employer.

What Are Passive Candidates Looking for? And What Are They NOT Looking For?

Passive candidates are looking for opportunities that can offer them something better than what they have in their current job.

They are looking for:

  • A higher salary or compensation package that reflects their value and skills.
  • A better work-life balance that allow them to manage their personal and professional commitments.
  • A more challenging and meaningful work that aligns with their passions and goals.
  • A more supportive and inclusive culture that values their contributions and respects their diversity.
  • A more flexible and remote-work-friendly arrangement that gives them more autonomy and convenience.
  • A clearer and more promising career path that offers them growth and development opportunities.

Passive candidates are NOT looking for:

  • A lower or equivalent salary or compensation package that does not match their expectations or market value.
  • A worse work-life balance that increases their stress and workload.
  • A less challenging and meaningful work that bores them or does not utilize their potential.
  • A less supportive and inclusive culture that ignores their feedback or discriminates against them.
  • A less flexible and remote work arrangement that restricts their freedom and mobility.
  • A less clear and promising career path that limits their progression or stagnates their learning.
  • And most importantly, passive candidates are not looking through job boards or job posts on social media channels for opportunities.

Channels to Track Down Passive Candidates

Finding and attracting passive candidates can be challenging, as they are not easily reachable through traditional job boards or advertisements. So, you need to leverage different channels and strategies to connect with them and persuade them to consider their offers.

Some of the channels that can be used to find passive candidates are:

Social Media

You can source and contact passive candidates through platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Searching for keywords related to the desired skills and backgrounds, joining relevant groups and communities, following hashtags and trends, and sharing engaging content that showcases your employer brand and culture is a pretty solid strategy.

You can also use social media to build relationships with potential candidates, by liking, commenting, and sharing their posts, sending personalized messages, and inviting them to events or webinars. When you’re ready to promote your job openings on social media, try using one of our “We’re Hiring” social media post examples as inspiration.

Employee Referrals

With employee referrals, you can leverage your existing employees’ networks to reach out to passive candidates. Encourage your employees to refer qualified candidates from their professional or personal contacts, by offering incentives, recognition, or rewards. Through this channel, you can find more high-quality candidates, as they are more likely to trust and respond to someone they know more than a stranger. Check out our employee referral email templates to get started.

Sourcing Firms

Another channel is hiring a candidate sourcing firm to help them find passive candidates. A sourcing firm is a specialized agency that uses various tools and techniques to identify and contact potential candidates on behalf of the recruiter. They can save time and resources for the recruiter, as they have access to large databases, advanced search methods, and industry expertise.


You can host or attend events that are relevant to your industry or target audience. These can include career fairs, trade shows, conferences, workshops, hackathons, etc. Events can allow you to showcase your company’s products, services, values, and culture, as well as establish network with passive candidates face-to-face. You can also collect resumes, business cards, or contact information from interested attendees.

Recruiting Passive Candidates: How to Engage

Engaging passive candidates is not the same as engaging active candidates. Passive candidates need more information and persuasion to consider a career change.

Here are some tips on how to engage passive candidates effectively:

1. Craft Personalized and Relevant Messages

Come up with messages that show that you have done your research on them and that you have something valuable to offer them. Don’t send generic mass emails or messages that sound like sales pitches.

Instead, you should use their name, mention their skills, achievements, interests, or goals, and explain why they are a good fit for your organization and role. Try using our passive candidate email template as a starting point for your conversation when approaching them.

2. Be Respectful and Transparent Throughout the Process

A passive candidate does not want to be bombarded with too many messages or calls, nor for anyone to pressure them to make a decision quickly.

The best approach is to respect their time, their privacy, and their current situation, and ask for their permission and preference on how and when to communicate. Be honest and clear about the expectations, requirements, benefits, and challenges of the role and the organization.

3. Provide Value and Insight That Can Help Them Make an Informed Decision

Talking about yourself or your company only is not a way to go. Instead, share useful content such as blog posts, case studies, webinars, podcasts, or testimonials that showcase your employer's brand, culture, values, and impact. The objective should be to

4. Build Trust and Rapport with Them

Don’t just focus on the transactional aspects of the recruitment process. Instead, show genuine interest and care for them as a person. Ask them about their motivations, aspirations, challenges, and preferences. Share your own stories and experiences.

5. Follow Up and Nurture Them Until They Are Ready to Move Forward

Ensure that you’re not letting them forget about you or lose interest in your opportunity, but also don’t annoy them or overwhelm them with too much information or requests. Instead, keep in touch with them regularly and provide updates on the status of the process. Send them reminders, confirmations, or thank-you notes. Share relevant news or events that might interest them. Ask for their feedback or referrals.

Benefits of Recruiting Passive Candidates

Recruiting passive candidates can offer many benefits for your organization, such as:

  • Accessing a larger and more diverse talent pool that may not be reachable through traditional recruitment channels. According to LinkedIn, 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive candidates. [1]
  • Reducing hiring costs and time by avoiding the competition and noise of the job market and reaching out to candidates who are already qualified and interested in your opportunity.
  • Improving retention and performance by hiring candidates who are more engaged, motivated, and loyal to your organization and who have a better fit with your culture and values.

Recruiting Passive Candidates Better with Manatal

Recruiting passive candidates can be a time-consuming and complex process that requires a lot of planning, research, and communication. However, you can optimize your passive candidate recruitment with the help of a recruitment tool like an ATS. And one of the most reliable ATS platforms for passive candidate recruitment is Manatal.

It is an AI-powered recruitment solution specifically designed to help recruiters source and hire candidates faster. Manatal has some innovative features that can help you find passive candidates easily and effectively, such as:

  • AI Recommendations feature that leverage Manatal’s AI engine, search tools, filters, and candidate scoring to find the best talent in your database.
Recruiting Passive Candidates
  • Candidate enrichment that goes beyond resume parsing and builds comprehensive candidate profiles with data from their LinkedIn and 20+ social platforms.
  • Recruitment CRM that is dedicated to agencies and headhunters to keep track of commercial activity, clients, placements, and revenue.
  • Branded Career Page that allows you to build your own customizable career page or integrate an existing one.
  • Data privacy compliance that remains up to date with the latest privacy policies, with absolute control of your data and the highest security credentials.
  • Open API that makes it easy to integrate Manatal with other solutions used by your organization for an interconnected ecosystem of your own.
Recruiting Passive Candidates

If you want to optimize your passive candidate recruitment and gain a competitive edge in the talent market, you should try Manatal today. Start a 14-day free trial to see how it can transform the way you recruit within a few clicks.

Final Thoughts

Recruiting passive candidates is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires a different mindset and strategy than recruiting active candidates. It also requires patience, persistence, and creativity. However, if done right, it can help you find and hire the best talent for your organization and gain a competitive edge in the talent market.


1. (8) Top 100 Hiring Statistics for 2022 | LinkedIn

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