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How to Engage Passive Candidates

In this step, we explore your options for recruiting candidates who may be employed, but not currently actively looking for a new opportunity. In recruitment terms these are known as passive candidates and you can be proactive in how you source and approach them.

In this step, we explore your options for recruiting candidates who may be employed, but not currently actively looking for a new opportunity.

In recruitment terms these are known as passive candidates and you can be proactive in how you source and approach them.

Finding Passive Candidates Through Third Party Recruiters

Recruitment and staffing firms are positioned to help hiring managers with meeting their needs. As professionals in the jobs market, they should be seen as guides and advisers, not just candidate hunters and long-listers. Larger hiring firms might have a formal arrangement in place with a firm to handle recruitment. Possibilities include Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO), where the process is handled entirely by the firm as an extension of your HR team, or Managed Service Provision (MSP) for temporary staff where the firm handles all aspects of engagement.

So how might you approach the search for a recruitment partner? There are 3 key tests:

  • Are they specialists in the area that you are looking to fill a role in – either having a team that specialises in the sector, or deep local knowledge of the labour market where you are?
  • Can they demonstrate their compliance and good practice? REC membership, for instance, requires a firm to pass a compliance test. But you might also want to ask about how they will ensure your shortlist is diverse, as an example.
  • Are they willing and able to behave as a professional services partner, taking time to understand your needs and bring you candidates that are well matched. Great recruiters will also help advise you on the availability of key skills in your local area and help you to craft job descriptions that boost your chances of success.

You could check the World Employment Confederation (WEC) website for the national recruitment federation in your country. Normally, they will have a directory of members that you can choose from for your partner.

Nurturing your Recruiter Relationship

The other key question is how to engage with a recruitment firm. Like any good relationship, you get back what you put in. Throwing your job description at ten firms at the same time is likely to get you a flood of CVs as the firms compete to be the first in line, but will those consultants be as focussed on quality as you would like? Similarly, really good work requires resource that has to be paid for. Remember to think about fees in this context. Buy on value not just price.

The Value of Exclusivity

Recruitment guru Greg Savage is right when he talks about the value of exclusivity. Recruitment firms do better when they have a bit of exclusivity with a client and time to explore the best options for you. They also do better because you do better. So when you are engaging a recruitment partner, remember: you are looking for a specialist, high quality adviser who you are going to trust to take the time to bring you the right longlist. That’s value, not a forest of CVs from dozens of firms.

Tips to Engage Passive Candidates

In the audio interview, I asked Anna Penfold, Partner of the prestigious RussellReynolds executive search group, to share a few tips on how to access passive candidates, especially in the context of the global pandemic and how to partner effectively with search firms.

image of Anna Anna Penfold is a member of the firm’s Corporate Officers Sector and co-leads the HR practice globally. She specialises in senior search and assessment projects across all industry sectors focusing on the HR community. Anna has written and spoken extensively about excellence in the HR function and is known for recruiting exceptional HR talent in the market.

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