How to Recruit Passive Candidates on LinkedIn

how to recruit passive candidates

Some of the best candidates you’ll work with aren’t specifically looking for a new job. They’re passive candidates — generally satisfied with where they are but open to hearing about their next great opportunity. Figuring out how to attract passive candidates, however, can be a challenge. What activates those with a steady gig to look at a new opportunity?

LinkedIn’s U.S. & Canada Talent Trends report says 90 percent of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities. But only about a third are actively looking; the rest is where you can find your knockout candidates — if you connect with them the right way.

Here is how to recruit passive candidates on LinkedIn.


Talk About Opportunities, Not Positions

People who need a new job put all their emphasis on finding the job. People who don’t need a job can bide their time until something perfect comes along — and that’s not a job or a position, but an opportunity. When you reach out to candidates on LinkedIn, talking about opportunities clearly and compellingly will get them to sit up and take notice.

Sending a LinkedIn recruiting message about an open position isn’t enough — instead, offer specific details about the opportunities the position can deliver. Those opportunities could include stretch goals on an accelerated timeline, increased impact on an organization, greater recognition, or advancement opportunities. This approach can get passive candidates to start thinking about a change.

Explain Your Reasoning

People like to feel needed, and it’s flattering to hear from a recruiter. But if you don’t say why you’re contacting them on LinkedIn, passive candidates will wonder how you found them or what caught your eye, and that can plant seeds of doubt about the process.

In your first contact, be upfront about what made them stand out to you. It might be a specific experience, accomplishment, or career trajectory. A sentence or two about what makes them special will help them understand why the opportunity you’re offering is a good one.

Be Transparent

After hearing about an opportunity, a passive candidate is going to want to know more about you. An incomplete profile that’s missing a photo or website will look unprofessional to a LinkedIn passive candidate, so make sure you provide a company overview and describe your role.

Two-thirds of interested candidates will then check the company website, according to the LinkedIn report. They’re looking for information about the organization — what are its culture and values, what the company is looking for from employees, and so on. If you can point the candidate to a company’s social recruiting efforts, such as a Twitter or Facebook account dedicated to sharing information about the employee experience and company culture, do so.

Network, Don’t Cold Email

As flattered as candidates, maybe when someone messages them out of the blue on LinkedIn, it’s often a low-return proposition that means you’re starting from square one every time. Each new position you have to fill turns into a new search — and that wastes time and effort.

Instead, invest your time in building relationships on LinkedIn. Participate in groups dedicated to the industries and positions you’re often looking for. Dedicate some time each week to sharing news and insights about those industries on your own page, and read up on what others share as well. Doing so will help those cold contacts feel a little less cold.

LinkedIn is a great place to attract passive candidates. Being transparent and active on the site will help you find what you’re looking for faster.

Want to take your sourcing efforts to the next level and learn more about how to recruit passive candidates? Get the ebook Source Code: Tips to Find and Place Candidates for tips to unlock the secrets to a better sourcing strategy.


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