Connecting With Passive Talent

The concept of social evidence is thrilling on many levels. For years, recruiters have been trying to visualize candidate performance and really understand just how good a candidate is. Sure, he says he’s a Ruby expert. But what does that really mean?Well now we know. I sit on the board of Advisors for RemarkableHire, a talent sourcing and assessment platform gives actual evidence that a candidate is skilled in a particular area of technology. It’s revolutionary. The challenge? The same one we’re used to as recruiters: the best candidates aren’t usually actively job seeking.

Connecting with passive talent you already know can perform, is a huge win. It’s easier to sell to a hiring manager and easier to fill the job. But it’s that pesky connecting part that’s hard. Candidates are both on email overload and skeptical of cold connections.

How can you get past that hurdle? Here are five tests to apply to your passive candidate communication strategy:

1. Form letters are out.

If your typical passive candidate communication is a cut and paste, stop now. Passive candidates recognize form letters from the first sentence and will automatically delete your email.

Tip: make the passive candidate feel special and customize the message. Show that you’ve learned about their background, or even better, that you’ve clicked on a question they answered in Quora or one of their entries in StackOverflow (linked from their RemarkableHire profile).

2. Brevity is best.

We’re talking tech here, not English literature. Cut to the chase quickly about who you are, why you’re writing and why the passive candidate should reply.

Tip: Stay away from long paragraphs and use bullet points to be brief along with excerpts from their work to grab attention.

3. Honesty.

No one likes over-inflation of credentials or false promises. If your passive candidate communication sounds like a breathless marketing promise (hint, lots of exclamation points), rethink your strategy. If a passive senses empty bragging or

Tip: Share both the best and worst parts about the job and connect that to what you know about the candidate and why s/he would specifically fit. If you’re new or unheard of as an organization, be honest about it, but sell the opportunity.

4. Make it interesting.

If your note looks and sounds like every other recruiter’s note, you’ll lose their attention fast. Provide easy access to information about who you are and about the company you’re representing.

Tip: Link to content posted by your employees in the sites or programs they frequent. Share like-minded content—an article, a snippet of code, a TedX talk—whatever might pique their interest and show you’re paying attention. But as we said before—stay brief.

5. Easy action is key

These are tech candidates, after all. Don’t simply tell them to call or email you. Provide multiple, easy channels to connect with including your own tech/online profiles.

Tip: Offer time blocks where you’re available and be waiting for their note, message, ping or chat invite.

As you’re rethinking your strategy, think about the advice often given to candidate: don’t go for breadth and volume, go for depth. Spend more time on fewer candidates. They’ll be able to tell, and you’ll have more sourcing success.


Author's Note: This blog post originally appeared as a guest post on RemarkableHire's Blog.

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