Passive candidates – why best practice is the key to exclusivity (Part Two).

In part one we talked about the foundations of best practice and how to apply these to identify the right opportunity for the right candidate. The structure outlined works for both active and passive candidates. There is a lot of talk about the difference between active and passive and there is a difference in the ease to present an active candidate and get them to commit over a passive candidate, but the underlying approaches and aspirations are generally the same.

In either case, to form a strong working partnership with your candidate the critical step is to gain trust and understanding.

trust 1

Trust and understanding

A great candidate experience starts with a great recruiter experience. Trust and understanding really forms the cornerstone.

In order to engage the candidate, you need to understand what makes a candidate tick, the challenges they face in their industry/role, and what their personal aspirations are. What ‘good’ might look like now in the case of an active candidate, or in the future in the case of a passive candidate.

Regardless of whether someone is ‘actively’ looking, most people still have aspirations as to what they hope to achieve in the future. They may be happy with what they are achieving now, or they may have some niggles. My point is that the line between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ is one which is very grey and blurred.

However, trust is ultimately the key to candidate conversation regardless. If they feel that you understand them and their needs, trust will naturally follow. So, although the phrasing and approach may differ, the three part steps to gaining understanding of a candidate’s need are exactly the same as I outlined in part one. To summarise them again briefly, they are:

  1. Establishing their reasons for leaving their current role OR why they may wish to leave in the future
  2. Understanding skills, ability, potential
  3. Aspirations, ‘want to do’ and cultural fit

With candidates at the more passive end of the spectrum this will be covered gently over a number of conversations, and, it’s certainly about getting the balance of contact right.  

You can do this by sharing information that will be of interest to them and gauge their opinion on industry issues. This is all about relationship building, but it also solidifies your understanding of what truly makes them tick through the resulting conversations and feedback. As ever, listening is the key to understanding.

When the candidate is ready

Having built your relationship, when your candidate is ready to convert is where you can really solidify their commitment to working exclusively with you. Because you’ve listened, you’re able to demonstrate your understanding to date of their needs and aspirations. The three stage structure described above now becomes more of a recap to fine tune that understanding.

A final word on ‘conversion’

Candidate conversion is a common recruitment phrase but one to approach cautiously. Convert suggests something that you do. However, this notion is flawed. You don’t convert the candidate; the candidate converts themselves. You’re simply ready to help them to the best of your ability.

How do you help them to the best of your ability? By continuing to follow best practice.

Doing so with the candidate’s interests first and foremost leads to a happier candidate. Ask a happy candidate who trusts you to work with you exclusively, and they will have no hesitation.

Deliver on your promises thereafter, and you will have a very satisfied candidate, an enhanced reputation and increased business growth.

We all talk a lot about talent marketing but remember; no one markets you better than a satisfied candidate.

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