What Are Unique Strategies to Engage Passive Candidates for Hard-To-Fill Positions?


    What Are Unique Strategies to Engage Passive Candidates for Hard-To-Fill Positions?

    In the quest to attract top talent for niche roles, we've gathered eight unique strategies from seasoned professionals, including Chief People Officers and HR Managers. From using humor to personalize outreach to showcasing company culture with virtual events, discover how these experts engage passive candidates for those challenging positions.

    • Use Humor to Personalize Outreach
    • Keep Track of Student Employees
    • Build Genuine Long-Term Relationships
    • Craft Personalized Email Campaigns
    • Actively Participate in Relevant Online Communities
    • Host Virtual Coding Challenges
    • Implement 'Reverse Job Posting'
    • Showcase Company Culture with Virtual Events

    Use Humor to Personalize Outreach

    Several years ago, while recruiting for a high-level position, I encountered a particularly outstanding candidate whom I was keen to include in our talent pool. Given my staunch advocacy for diversity, coupled with glowing recommendations from industry contacts, I pursued her with diligence and professionalism. Despite employing conventional recruitment methods initially, I found they lacked the desired impact. Consequently, I decided to inject a touch of humor and creativity into my approach.

    Through meticulous observation, I discovered her affinity for Bon Jovi, either via a public post or her LinkedIn profile. Leveraging this insight, I crafted an email subject line that humorously referenced one of the band's popular songs, 'You Give Love a Bad Name.' In the body of the email, I playfully acknowledged the unconventional nature of my outreach and expressed my sincere interest in connecting with her.

    To my delight, within a mere twelve minutes of sending the email, I received a phone call from the candidate herself. Expressing pleasant surprise at my knowledge of her musical preferences, she queried how I had gleaned such information. I candidly confessed to engaging in a degree of online research, emphasizing the extent of my enthusiasm to engage with her professionally.

    This personalized and light-hearted approach not only captured her attention but also fostered a sense of being valued and appreciated. It underscored my commitment to establishing meaningful connections with potential candidates, ultimately leading to a fruitful dialogue and, eventually, successful recruitment.

    Trent Cotton
    Trent CottonSenior Director of Talent, Hatchworks

    Keep Track of Student Employees

    We leverage social media to broadcast our job openings. We also share job openings with our current employees so they can apply to progress in their careers or share with their contacts. Additionally, we keep track of past student employees who may have completed their grad programs and are ready to apply in areas where they worked as student employees.

    Michelle Forstrom
    Michelle ForstromHR Manager, BYU Library

    Build Genuine Long-Term Relationships

    At our firm, we adopt a uniquely relationship-driven approach to engage passive candidates, especially for niche roles that are challenging to fill. Recognizing the competitive nature of today's talent market, we focus on building genuine, long-term relationships with potential candidates. This involves understanding their personal career aspirations and differentiating between their 'must-have' and 'nice-to-have' job elements.

    Our strategy centers on authentic engagement. We take the time to listen to candidates without pressure, fostering a trust-based relationship. This not only helps us understand their current professional landscape but also their future career preferences. By positioning ourselves as trusted advisors, we ensure that candidates think of us first when they decide to transition into active job seekers.

    This approach is not just limited to our internal talent acquisition; it extends to sourcing top candidates for our clients. Whether for our firm or our clients, we aim to be the go-to partner in each candidate's career journey, supporting them as they explore their next great opportunity. This commitment to genuine relationships sets us apart and enables us to attract and convert the best talent in the market.

    Julie Catalano
    Julie CatalanoChief People Officer, Bespoke Partners

    Craft Personalized Email Campaigns

    We've implemented a unique strategy leveraging email campaigns to engage passive candidates for our hard-to-fill positions. We understand that passive candidates are often not actively seeking new opportunities, so traditional recruitment methods may not always reach them effectively. We craft attention-grabbing subject lines, personalize the content to highlight relevant job aspects and company culture, and incorporate elements like pop-culture references to humanize our employer brand. By segmenting our candidate database, we ensure our emails reach the right candidates in hopes of receiving more qualified applications and converting harder-to-fill roles.

    Grant Smith
    Grant SmithGlobal Recruitment Marketing Specialist

    Actively Participate in Relevant Online Communities

    As Director of Sales at PanTerra Networks, this is how I leverage online communities, professional groups, and industry conferences to identify passive candidates with the specific skill set that I am looking for.

    I research online forums, discussion boards, and niche social media groups frequented by professionals with the desired skills. I look for groups focused on specific technologies, methodologies, or problem areas relevant to my open position. For example, if I need a cybersecurity expert, I explore communities dedicated to ethical hacking, penetration testing, or specific security software. I utilize the search function within these communities to find discussions or posts showcasing relevant skills. I actively participate in discussions myself, demonstrating my company's expertise and establishing myself as a thought leader within the community.

    LinkedIn offers powerful search filters. I target groups based on industry, job title, skills, and even company size (if relevant). I look for groups with active discussions and a strong sense of community. Once I've identified relevant groups, I don't just broadcast job postings. I engage in discussions, answer questions demonstrating expertise, and subtly highlight PanTerra's contributions in the field. I often direct message potential candidates who showcase the skills I am seeking in a candidate.

    I also network actively at conferences. I attend relevant talks, participate in panels, and strike up conversations with individuals showcasing the desired skill set. I follow up after the conference with a personalized message referencing my conversation and highlighting PanTerra's potential fit for their career goals.

    Shawn Boehme
    Shawn BoehmeDirector of Sales, PanTerra Networks

    Host Virtual Coding Challenges

    At Startup House, we've found that hosting virtual coding challenges is a great way to engage passive candidates for hard-to-fill positions. By creating a fun and interactive environment where developers can showcase their skills, we not only attract top talent but also give them a taste of what it's like to work with us. Plus, it's a great way to see how candidates think on their feet and problem-solve in real time. So, if you're struggling to fill those tricky roles, why not give a coding challenge a try? You might just find your next star developer!

    Alex Stasiak
    Alex StasiakCEO & Founder, Startup House

    Implement 'Reverse Job Posting'

    As a CEO, I implemented a technique which we call 'reverse job posting.' Instead of posting a job and waiting for responses, we take an intriguing approach by 'posting' our recruiters on different digital platforms. We find candidate profiles that align with our requirements, and our recruiters, without revealing the company, start having casual tech-related discussions. This not only puts candidates at ease but also helps gauge their skills and thought processes in a relaxed setting. It's been an effective way to engage passive candidates.

    Abid Salahi
    Abid SalahiCo-founder & CEO, FinlyWealth

    Showcase Company Culture with Virtual Events

    One strategy we have employed to engage passive candidates is by hosting virtual networking events. These events are tailored to specific industries or skill sets. They provide a platform for passive candidates to connect with our team members and industry professionals in a relaxed and informal setting.

    By offering valuable insights, industry trends, and networking opportunities, we create a compelling environment for passive candidates. They are able to learn more about our company and potential career opportunities.

    These events allow us to showcase our company culture, values, and innovative projects. They make us an attractive employer of choice. This strategy helps us identify top talent and fosters meaningful connections.

    Perry Zheng
    Perry ZhengFounder and CEO, Pallas