P.A.S.S.I.V.E. Recruiting – Part 1: Pipeline

by Steven Allard
Hand uses a magnet to collect people

Having trained, mentored, and led both agency and in-house recruiters now for over 15 years, it still astonishes me how many in our profession still approach recruiting with a cookie cutter method. Many are able to source and identify those solid candidates that would be ideal for either their client or their organization. However, they seem unable to effectively engage them or fail to maintain a high level of engagement and lose them early on in the process. I have used my P.A.S.S.I.V.E. outline as a guide to initially approach and continually engage passive candidates. Over the next few weeks, we will explore how I use P.A.S.S.I.V.E. in more detail. Let’s begin with a general overview.

Look outside the box

I do not feel all candidates are created equal. The best candidates are rarely the ones who are actively looking and applying to your roles. The most coveted candidates, the ones who can turn around an organization or who can bring thought leadership and inspiration to the team are the candidates everyone is attempting to lure to their company. For these individual “cookie cutter” recruiting will not cut it. For example, you will have to work outside your normal recruiting process and possibly involve people not normally involved in your current system. The order of interviews may need to be altered. Interviews may need to take place at an offsite location.

Candidates waiting for their jobinterview

Passive- vs. Active Candidates

Engaging with passive candidate is much different that engaging with active candidates who apply to your position. Each has its own challenges and benefits. Consider the comparison table below.

Passive Candidates

Active Candidates

Not aware of your position or potentially even unaware of your company

You are not the only position he or she is considering

Need to be sold

Will tell you everything you want to hear to get the job

Need to ensure the process does not turn them off

Are willing to do whatever it takes to get a job. In some cases, any job!

Limited competition

Possibly working with other agencies/ recruiters who are financially incented work against you.

May not have a current resume and you do not want to ask them to create one. In theory you already who what they are capable of, which is why you reached out to them

They may have several different resumes for many different jobs. They are blasting resumes to anyone with an email address or an “apply now” button.

Their current company will counter and pull out every stop to keep them.

Will probably get a counteroffer. Alternatively, the company may be glad to see them leave.

The process for engaging a passive candidate needs to be well thought out and customized. Your message needs to be individual to “that” candidate. You may need buy in from and engagement of senior members of your or your client’s team to help attract and engage your ideal passive candidate.

The first concept in P.A.S.S.I.V.E. is:


If you are going to identify and engage candidate who are not applying to you jobs, you must fish in the pond where the fish are. That means getting yourself known in their circles. Attending one user group meeting with the sole intent of trying to recruit is a MAJOR turn off to attendees and moderators who are there to interact with and learn from like-minded people. They are not there to be solicited by recruiters. You quickly get labeled a “Seagull” – someone who swoops in, tries to get noticed to recruit, and is never seen or heard from again.

Where do these candidates typically go to:

Think about:

Hang out socially after hours

  • Meetups
  • Tech bars

Learn new things

  • Meetups
  • Hackathons
  • StackOverflow
  • LinkedIn groups for particular skills/knowledge to network with people

Keep up on best practices

  • Which Centers of Influence they follow?
  • What blogs do the follow?
  • What sites do they frequent?
Young american woman with megaphone

Share ideas

  • Git Hub
  • Stack Overflow

Leverage your team

  • Ask your managers and their teams where they go/what they do

I will not get as granular as to discuss the myriad of sourcing methods and ways to find contact info. We can discuss that in another post. Next week we will discuss how to Approach passive candidates once we have built our potential pool. What marketing personas do we need to identify and message to?

Picture credits for this article:
210429167 © Krakenimages.com – stock.adobe.com
293128251 © REDPIXEL – stock.adobe.com
301159705 © adragan – stock.adobe.com

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