7 Tactics Employers Can Utilize to Tap Into Passive Candidates

attract and retain
Practical Advice To Help Employers Attract, Retain And Develop Millennial Workers
October 14, 2017
Show all
transition motivators

ManpowerGroup Solutions prides itself on its ability to analyze and forecast trends impacting the world of work. As skills and available talent change and marketplace priorities shift, it is critical for organizations to have timely, relevant and accurate insights into the global workforce. With this in mind, we surveyed more than 200 job seekers about their current employment, job search preferences and transition motivators that drive individuals to seek and apply for new opportunities.

Overall, the job seekers surveyed represented a cross-section of age, income, employment status, career level and industry: 58 percent of respondents were full-time employees, 12 percent part-time employees and seven percent independent contractors. With respect to the career levels, experienced non-managers accounted for the largest group at 37 percent followed by managers at 26 percent and senior-level managers 6 percentage.

The job seekers that were surveyed also represented varied verticals of industries included banking, hospitality, retail, telecommunications, construction, manufacturing, energy, defense, computer hardware and software, healthcare and education.

Post the analysis and tabulation of the data compiled, what emerged was a clear profile of passive candidates along with insights on how to attract them to an organization and prevent having them lured away by other competitors. Here’s a closer analysis of the ManpowerGroup Passive Candidate Preferences Report that employers can utilize to gain extensive insights into how to attract passive candidates:

Understanding the Passive Candidate

Passive Candidate

The data revealed interesting correlations between passivity and employment status, income, career level, experience and job tenure. For individuals who are underemployed or involved in part-time work, securing the next job may be a high priority. However, full-time employment often leaves little time for consistent, proactive job seeking. In a climate where many full-time employees are being asked to take on additional job responsibilities or fill expanded job descriptions to increase efficiency and keep costs down, even successful employees who would like to make a change may not have the discretionary time to apply for a new job.

Income and Passivity

As an individual’s income rises, their job passivity increases. For example, Job seekers who earned less than $70,000 a year were 1.6 times more likely to seek new jobs than those earning more than $70,000 annually. Analogically, job seekers who earned less than $150,000 a year were 2.5 times more likely to seek out new jobs than those with incomes of more than $150,000.

Compensation has historically been a major motivator for many job seekers. It is logical that talent that is well compensated by employers would be less proactive towards their job seeking activity. However, as individuals gain more experience professionally and life circumstances change, compensation may become even less of a priority for some people who seek more balance, flexibility or mobility in their careers.

Career Level and Passivity

As job seekers advanced in their career levels, the number of applications declined precipitously – inferring that career level and passivity are positively correlated.

Career level and passivity

Fewer applications are proactively submitted by senior level managers, directors and executives indicating that these skilled and experienced candidates will not contact even the most seasoned HR professional or job board on their own. Passivity may be further enabled by the sweeping changes in technology and the internet. Job seeking online is very different today than it was 10 years ago when Twitter and Instagram did not exist.

Years of Experience and Passivity

The survey similarly also revealed a positive correlation between years of experience and passivity with a notable breakpoint: a sharp increase of 16 percent in passivity occurred after an individual exceeded 10 years of experience. Subsequently, passivity continued to increase with each additional year of experience. Upon further analysis, the data indicated that with each additional year of experience, the job seeker was three times more likely to be passive.

The survey data also exposed a significant deviation. For job seekers holding more than 20 years of experience, the survey revealed a decrease in passivity. This sudden shift in activity can possibly be attributed to changing life circumstances, career stagnation or a desire to switch careers. From empty nesters who face fewer financial responsibilities and may be more inclined to take calculated career risks, to employees who may reach a plateau of responsibility or professional growth and seek new challenges, these formerly passive candidates can fill the talent pipeline for the savvy HR professionals who can engage them.

Job Tenure and Passivity

Finally, the survey showed a positive correlation between maintaining a job with the same employer and passivity. After five years of job tenure, passivity rose sharply by more than 20 percent among job seekers. With each additional year of on-the-job tenure, passivity continued to increase. By definition, tenured employees demonstrate employment stability and lower turnover rates at their organizations. While it cannot be assumed that all such individuals feel loyal to their employers, it does imply that job or career changes may need to be fostered by recruiters through building long-term relationships. Acquisition cycles may need to be longer for these individuals than for active job seekers. Recruiters and HR professionals should recognize this possibility in their strategies.

Employers can tap into the passive candidate workforce by ensuring that their HR teams and partners, such as recruiters, fully understand the characteristics, preferences and transition motivators of passive candidates and incorporate them into their attraction and acquisition strategies. By employing these strategic business solutions, employers can get a better understanding on how to attract passive candidates and recruit the best talent for their organization:

Treat Recruiting as Marketing 

The most successful HR professionals look at talent through the lens of marketers and apply marketing tools to their sourcing and recruiting processes. As the ManpowerGroup Solutions research shows, this can be an especially important tool for hiring passive candidates who may be at different life stages or have experienced different career paths from their active counterparts. Taking into account passive candidates’ unique motivators, needs and life stages, organizations that customize approaches to them will engage them in ways they are not being engaged already.

Be Proactive and Prepare for a Longer Acquisition Cycle 

Employers should build relationships with passive candidates now and for the future. Dialing in the proper motivational package – compensation, opportunity for advancement and job description – may take longer for passive candidates. But smart employers can counter these prospective offers with their own. Hence, employers should be prepared to cultivate relationships until the proper motivational mix and timing coalesce.

Enhance Your Employer Brand Experience 

Branding is what allows an employer to communicate the factors that are most important to potential candidates, active or passive. Each recruiting experience creates a lasting impression on a candidate and can potentially be shared with that candidate’s network. Creating positive candidate experiences should be vital to employers who value their brands and seek to recruit top talent. From integrating motivational messages for passive candidates to building responsive websites that create a consistent end-user experience regardless of device, enhancing the brand will draw top talent.

Network, Network, Network 

By definition, passive candidates are not as active as other job seekers in utilizing the resources employers have increasingly come to rely on for talent attraction and acquisition. Making connections can be a challenge. Therefore, HR professionals need to find newer platforms and venues where passive candidates may be found. That could include: joining professional organizations, online communities, discussion groups, industry events, Applicant Tracking Systems, keeping connected and building candidate referrals with other talent acquisition professionals. Using recruiters can increase the likelihood of finding passive candidates and present an employer’s value proposition through multiple touch points.

Leverage Your Current Employees 

Current employees often know talented potential workers who are in the same industry or potentially willing to make a career transition. Offering rewards such as bonuses, gift cards or paid time off to existing employees for referring qualified talent is an embedded practice in many organizations and one that can pay dividends in the competition for passive candidates.

Differentiate the Opportunity 

To attract passive candidates, you need to first answer a passive candidate’s fundamental question, “My employer is great. Why should I consider your opportunity?” Be prepared to differentiate your opportunity and make it stand out. Remember that it’s your business to know your client’s business and articulate the opportunity in a way that attracts the right talent.

Meet Them Where They Are 

Passive candidates are “hiding in plain sight”. They may be less visible on job boards and HR sources, but they are routinely exposed to messages in traditional media, social media sites and blogs. Employers seeking to tap into the passive candidate workforce should expand their branding efforts across media and integrate messages into public relations efforts.


Properly engaged, passive candidates can help employers create a robust talent pipeline for their
organizations. Experienced, stable and potentially valuable to the organization through outside
perspectives, passive candidates may be hiding in plain sight. However, these candidates are well worth the additional resources necessary to integrate them into employer attraction and acquisition strategies. Consulting reputable recruitment providers like Manpower can help organization integrate the brightest and best talent to their workforce. Consult our employment experts to know more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *