Main image of article Passive Candidate Outreach: 7 Steps to Help Your Team Succeed
[caption id="attachment_13570" align="alignright" width="130"]Carmen Hudson, Recruiting Toolbox Carmen Hudson, Recruiting Toolbox[/caption] Leading a sourcing effort can be a bit like boxing frogs. Your targets can be elusive, and frog catching can be unpredictable and chaotic. As a Talent Acquisition Leader, it’s your job to ensure that the recruiting team has the tools, the guidance and the motivation to get the job done. When it comes to engaging passive candidates, success can be hit or miss without the right preparation and focus. What can you do to streamline your outreach efforts and support your team’s success? Here are seven steps your team needs to take before reaching out to candidates. 1. Establish a benchmark and measure progress. Get your team to focus on outreach activities, measure response rates and submittal rates. Response rates will tell you if your sourcing and communication strategies are on target. Submittal rates (tracking the candidates accepted by the hiring manager) will tell you if your candidates match the job profile. Track this information over time to identify what’s working, and where you might improve. 2. Crowdsource your messaging. Startup communities use the term “pitch clinic” to describe events for entrepreneurs to hone and polish their proposals to investors. Gather your team, and perhaps a few hiring managers, to develop and refine the verbal and written pitches you make to candidates. 3. A/B test outgoing communications. Ever wonder what approach works best for your target audience? Vary and track your messages to determine what works with different audiences. Leverage the data gathered when researching candidates identify common points of interest that can be used to tailor messages for certain types of candidates. 4. Test your messages in a focus group. Gather hiring managers and incumbents to ask them what works. Ask them to tell you about or show you effective recruiting pitches from other companies (an excellent source of competitive intelligence!), and describe what would make them return a recruiters’ call. 5. Emphasize quality over quantity. When it comes to sourcing, many organizations focus on quantity – number of phone calls made, number of emails sent, etc. Try accentuating sourcing success – response rates and submittal rates over raw numbers. Ensure that recruiters have time to conduct research and craft tailored messages for each candidate. Reward actions that lead to hires over frantic activity that doesn’t lead to candidate engagement. 6. Share competitive intelligence. As your team realizes success in engaging candidates, they will undoubtedly collect bits of information about your talent competitors and the overall talent market that can be extremely useful in your recruiting efforts. Provide a platform for recruiters to share this valuable information – informally or formally – and make sure that competitive intelligence is much-visited topic in meetings and req reviews. 7. Give points for persistence. Many recruiters fail to engage top candidates because they stop short of actually getting a response. A well crafted, appropriately targeted message isn’t spam, and isn’t considered “pestering”. Help your recruiters develop tenacity and follow up strategies that lead to an actual conversation. Keep the team motivated by broadly defining success (got the candidate to return a call, or set up a meeting with a hiring manager, or learned about your competitor’s bonus structure), and celebrating often. Leading passive sourcing efforts can’t be left to chance. Your expertise and patience is needed to keep the team on track and motivated. A solid engagement strategy is needed to achieve results. With some effort, and some trial and error, your team will find a way to get those frogs to leap into your boxes!
Carmen Hudson is currently Principal Consultant and Trainer at Recruiting Toolbox. Prior to joining Recruiting Toolbox, she was a recruiting leader at Yahoo, Starbucks, Microsoft and She currently consults with companies on recruiting and sourcing strategy, employer branding and social media. She can be reached at, or connect with her via LinkedIn or on Twitter at @PeopleShark.