Keep Passive Recruiting Efforts on a Constant Simmer

What does downtime look like for HR professionals in today’s hiring climate? Most of the people we’re hearing from have forgotten that the word even exists. In fact, if you’re in HR, you might feel more like a head chef in a busy, four-star restaurant, with more hot pots and pans than you and your team know how to handle.

You’re posting on job boards, pushing messages from careers pages to social media and back, attending job fairs, following up with applicants, scheduling interviews…! And the moment you catch your breath, your mind shifts over to jobs that aren’t even open yet.

Meanwhile, candidates on all levels are more selective than ever. And yet they keep looking—even if they’re already employed.

In a previous article, we pointed to estimates that suggest 23% of employed workers are passively looking for new jobs. Globally, the number may be much higher. According to, approximately 75% of candidates from around the globe fall into the category of passive job seekers.

With so many workers looking for other opportunities, or at least “open” to something new, it’s possible that your employees are among them. When retention is an issue, it’s more important than ever to keep a few extra pots on the burners, even if you don’t have an opening.

How Passive Recruiting Helps Busy HR Professionals

That’s where passive recruiting comes in.

Just as the world is full with “passive candidates,” organizations of all sizes apply their own version of passive recruiting to connect across the hiring spectrum—whether candidates are actively searching, passively looking, or happily employed.

Passive recruiting is about making sure your recruiting switch is always on.

It’s the type of recruiting that happens in the background. It involves showcasing your culture and services in order to inspire people to pay attention, keep tabs on you, and develop the sense of “I want to be a part of that.”

If you get people interested and excited to work for you, you likely save time on the backend of the recruiting cycle when they’re ready to apply. They’ll already have a sense of who you are, and will have begun to see how they fit into your culture, services and solutions.

For some companies, passive recruiting is already always happening.

In our last article, we discussed Nike—from the challenges they faced in the 1990s, to the steps they took to overcome them, to how their consumer identity feeds into their employer brand. But they’re just one of many global companies where the consumer and employer brands are so enmeshed, they’re almost one in the same.

Another example is Google. In 2014, an estimated two million people applied for jobs at Google—lured by perks, promise, purpose and much more. While everyone loves benefits that extend beyond the grave, paid time to pursue their own creative ideas, and employee bowling lanes, Google has been taking a methodical approach to recruiting for some time. One analysis from 2014 refers to Google’s “recruiting machine.”  From the same article:

Google not only funds recruitment policies to a large extent but has also changed the way that employees function and aims to attract and recruit the very best.

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How a Company Like Yours Can Put Passive Recruiting to Work

Before you consider the “how” and “where” of passive recruiting, it’s essential to identify the “what.”

The current hiring climate means HR professionals may wish to engage with potential applicants before jobs are open. As we shared in an earlier piece, this starts with knowing and communicating your culture.

  • If you want their interests to align with yours, highlight the things that your people and your company care about—from office perks, to fun gatherings, to philanthropic efforts.
  • Remember: it’s a team effort. Your marketing department or outside vendors can play roles in making sure your employer brand communicates your message, and helps you attract potential employees the same way you connect with would-be customers.
  • Finally, consider what happens when “passive” becomes “active”? Eventually, passive candidates who fall in love with your recruiting message will want to learn more. After they spend time exploring the culture-focused content you share, their next stop may be employee review sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed and others. What will they find there? Be sure you know before they do.

As far as the “where” is concerned, social media is the logical platform when it comes to sharing news, updates, and organic content that highlight your culture, promises and perks.

Using Social Media to Assist with Passive Recruiting Efforts

 For many job seekers, social media is the first place they turn to learn more about your company.

Whether or not your goal is to generate “follows” or “likes,” most companies have at least one active social media page they use to engage with consumers as well as candidates.

Our next article will dive deeper into the topic of social recruiting. Ahead of that, here are a few starter points that explore the link between social media and your passive recruiting strategy:

  • Social media is a two-way street built around engagement. It’s not simply a matter of dumping content and running away. To truly engage, you’ll want to follow others, comment on relevant posts, and carry on conversations in ways that are authentic, and portray your company in a positive light.
  • LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter continue to be the top three social media platforms for social recruiting, but others such as Snapchat and Pinterest are gaining traction, depending on your industry, your culture, and the vision you have of your future workforce. Video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo have also become more popular, depending on the type of company you are, as well as the type of content you want to share.
  • Depending on your social media budget, you can take a more active approach to your passive strategy, and generate paid content with ads that target individuals who fit the culture of your business.

Passive recruiting doesn’t burn with the same intensity as active messages built around current openings—and that’s the point. By keeping a few pots simmering in the background, you won’t have to work so hard the next time a position opens. In fact, you’ll discover that you were recruiting all along.

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