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How to Ace Passive Candidate Sourcing?

August 15, 2022

Sourcing and recruiting the right candidates has become more challenging than ever. Do you remember the last time you hired an immensely talented individual through a job board? Even if we keep aside the huge efforts involved in shortlisting and screening, getting your ideal hire among active candidates is occasional. And you are not alone, 69% of the recruiters are facing difficulties in hiring due to talent shortage. The glimmer of light can only be seen in passive candidate sourcing, which refers to finding candidates who aren’t looking for a job but their talent and experience can add great value to your company. 

Especially when it comes to senior-level roles with the required experience, sourcing actively doesn’t help much. Why? The top talent with rich experience and a decent role won’t bother to apply for jobs that you post.

Around 85% of the total employed workforce are open to switching jobs! Surprised already? There’s much more to unravel – to help you source better and hire the best. 

Hiring talent is more than facing competition now. It has now become a fight for existence and growth for organizations. Amidst all the noise, you need to understand the perfect candidate won’t just walk through the door. You need to trigger them and passive sourcing is the way to go!

If you’re wondering – “Is it easy?”

Here’s the good news - Yes, if done strategically. And don’t worry about how to do it right. As you’re already here, you will find everything you need to know about passive candidate sourcing in this guide, let’s dive in.

What is Passive Candidate Sourcing?

Passive candidates are individuals who are not actively searching for a role. None of them would have even applied for a job at any organization. However, you want them to join your organization for the talent and skills they possess.

Passive candidate sourcing is identifying and connecting with people who are currently not looking for a job or to switch. Sourcing and acquiring high-quality passive talent is one of the most sought-after skills for recruiters. 

As we discussed earlier, a large chunk (about 85%) of the overall employed individuals are open to switching, but why would they want to? Here are the possible reasons:

  • They hate their current job but don’t have the risk appetite to lose it.
  • They don’t see growth in their current role but are too busy to apply for another one
  • Even though both of the above criteria are unmet, they are not paid well

As a recruiter, you need to identify the sweet spot which you can target and pitch in your open roles. That can happen through continuous engagement and analysis of those candidates. 

Why Should You Hunt for Passive Candidates?

Passive candidates might be tougher to engage with and hire, but the efforts are worth it after all. Unlike in active candidate sourcing, you are completely independent in this approach of sourcing and hiring. As you decide who to approach, you can begin directly by reaching out to talented and experienced individuals. You no more need to wait for applicants and then perform multiple rounds of shortlisting to interview a few among them.

In the case of a passive candidate – you know where they are working (the biggest factor), what they are doing and their ability to fulfill your requirements. Additionally, the competition to hire passive candidates is slightly less. Don’t forget about attracting their peers and colleagues once you hire them with much better perks!

Active vs Passive Sourcing: What’s the Difference?

Before we dive deep into the passive sourcing strategies, it’s essential that we discuss the differences between active and passive candidate sourcing. So that you can understand the primary approach towards passive sourcing that will yield quality results.

Active Sourcing Passive Sourcing
Active candidates are continuously browsing job boards, applying for jobs, sending emails to recruiters and searching for jobs on social media. Passive candidates are not searching for jobs at all
Active sourcing involves posting jobs across various professional and social platforms and independent job boards Passive sourcing involves searching and identifying talented individuals and connecting, networking and engaging with them across professional and social platforms
Candidates are very receptive to opportunities as they are in desperate need of a job Candidates are not much receptive to opportunities and cold outreach because they don’t care about applying right now
Multiple rounds of shortlisting before screening round Direct screening round to know if they are interested and available for a role at your organization
1 in 152 candidates gets hired among the applicants 1 in 72 candidates gets hired when passively sourced
More time is spent in filtering CVs and screening rounds Most of the time is spent in sourcing the right candidates, because that cuts off the time for upcoming rounds
Easy to source candidates this way but the quality of talent is usually not dense Tough to source even a few candidates but most of them are worth hiring
Mostly suited to entry level or junior roles More suited to senior roles with the requirement of experience

How to Source Passive Candidates for Successful Recruitment?

We talked about passive candidate sourcing and why it is vital for organizations amidst the competitive heat today. It’s now time for unleashing the elephant in the room: how to source passive candidates? 

While it might look like a simple sequence of steps from a top-level view, passive sourcing requires an intense strategy. There's no way you can reach out to random talented individuals and expect them to be interested in your open roles. So even before you begin passive sourcing, three are a few things to consider and work on for successful hiring.

  • Review your Employer Brand: You need to put out your employer brand’s value proposition. What do you think is unique about your work culture? Why do current employees love working with you? What’s your approach to providing a great work-life balance? How will the candidate you are sourcing will fit in amazingly well?Answer all these questions to prepare yourself for enticing the prospective candidates.
  • Before investing time, know what they’re looking for: One of the biggest mistakes that recruiters make while sourcing passive candidates is they call them directly. Try messaging or emailing your target prospects to genuinely ask them if they are interested in the fantastic opportunity at your workplace.

Once you ensure both of the above aspects, you can move forward to sourcing candidates passively. Know that from here, it’s almost similar to sales – you will face way too many rejections, cold responses and ignorance. But you cannot give up until you find interested candidates and add them to your recruitment pipeline. On that note, let’s get started with the tried and tested strategies for passive candidate sourcing and quality talent recruitment through it.

1. Source Passive Candidates Through Employee Referrals

Your organization’s employees can surely be the biggest source of quality talent if utilized efficiently. Have you ever noticed that a majority of the early-stage startups hire only through senior executives’ networks and employee referrals?  78% of the recruiters claim that the best candidates come through referrals.

There’s no doubt that your colleagues know the company and requirements inside out, so they usually bring the most talented and adaptive people into your organization. Additionally, they take referrals very responsibly as a bad referral may cost them as well as the company in the future. 
In most cases, these employees stay in an organization for longer. They also perform 15% better than other employees.

So what should you as a recruiter do? Ask your employees to recommend the best possible talent from their own network. Reward them in case of successful conversions – it can be cash rewards, shopping coupons, or electronic gadgets like smartwatches. Incentivizing the referral system motivates the employees to get quality candidates for the company. More often than not, the ROI will be much higher if you add up the cost of rewards.

2. Source Passive Candidates From your Talent Pool

Remember the promise you made to candidates about reaching out to them later when you have an opening? It’s now the time to find them out, evaluate their current position and connect with them if they qualify your sourcing criteria. 

Look out for talented candidates in your ATS and talent pipelines who got rejected in the final stages of your interview process. Note that they weren't right for the position at ‘that’ time. It’s totally possible that they would have now upskilled and gained more experience than you require and are a perfect fit for the organization too.

Make sure that these candidates were once disappointed for not getting through the selection process. So the least you can do is provide a great recruitment experience. No matter if they get selected or not, their perspective for you as an employer should not go down to negative. Ensure an extra polite and gentle approach towards them. Who knows, you might get some great hires for your company!

3. Source Passive Candidates from Social Media

LinkedIn is probably the first name you think about when it comes to passive candidate sourcing. With the entire world spending more time on social media platforms than ever, it should be your first place to start after referrals and your internal ATS. Remember the core objective of sourcing passive candidates and not going with conventional application processes. So you don’t want to leave anything on the table now.
To begin with, analyze the role and requirements of the job profile. If I had to hire a software developer, I would definitely check out LinkedIn first. But if I had to hire a creative manager, I would first go to more visual-focused platforms like Instagram.

Once the platform is chosen, find out the best methods to find people belonging to your target candidate persona. For LinkedIn, boolean searches work wonders because you are sourcing passive candidates. Find out people from the companies you know are doing well as they can add great productive talent to your organization. 

For Twitter and Instagram, searching with relevant hashtags will give you some quality leads. For example: use #graphicdesigners to source candidates for design roles. Twitter is an underrated way of sourcing talent, it also allows you direct keyword search just like Google. Imagine how diverse candidates you can find using a Twitter search.

4. Explore Networking Events

While the virtual world is primarily preferable due to its pace and accessibility, nothing can ever beat the experience of meeting people in real life. And what can be better than networking events, conferences and meetups that keep happening around your city? Use websites like meetup.com and Eventbrite to find passive talent that can perfectly fit in your organization. 

A pro tip would be to look out for people who constantly want to learn more and grow in their respective domains. It’s a big green flag when you find such talent, and you cannot afford to lose it! Moreover, hosting similar events would be a great initiative too. You can plan this with your executives and host a physical event or if not possible - webinars. Make sure it’s a valuable event that promises powerful takeaways for the participants.

This is an immensely popular passive candidate sourcing approach these days, especially for B2B companies.

5. Find Candidates in Online Recruiting Databases

The reason you need to ‘mine’ and not ‘source’ here is because this approach will take more effort and time than others. However, resume platforms and recruitment databases can truly be a goldmine for you when it comes to passive candidate sourcing.

You might be wondering how you can use these job boards and resume databases to find passive candidates. Well, candidates upload their resumes to numerous job boards, but their resumes are still there even after they find a job. So you can look out for different relevant attributes including industry, skills and educational background.

Never avoid a resume, just because it’s outdated – you can actually go to LinkedIn and find more about them. 

How to Recruit Passive Candidates?

Now that you have sourced a number of candidates – it’s time to go a step further. Remember discussing – “Hiring is becoming more of a sales practice where you are constantly selling to prospective candidates”? This is the stage of execution. 

Before you hop on a call with one of your passive candidates, it’s crucial to know everything related to the job role – JD, expected remuneration, perks and other benefits of working with your company. Be ready for any of the questions that might be asked upfront. Remember that your aim is to close the deal.

Suppose you got on a first discovery call and they seemed like they were interested. Now what? 

Share with them all the necessary details of the role with clear information - the documented job description, package etc. Ensure sending this on the same day you had a call with them.

You don’t want to turn them off by making the application process complicated and the last thing you would want is to lose out on talented candidates because of that. Schedule a video call meeting as per their availability and you will be well placed to make it happen. Also, ask them if they are available to meet in person.

How to Engage Passive Candidates?

Unlike what happens when someone applies for a job at your organization while sourcing passive candidates – you have to reach out to them for every step and make sure the hiring process happens fast and smoothly. If they have agreed to meet you personally, arrange for a real meeting over the weekend or whenever they are comfortable.

Regardless of how you meet them, your conversation should be focused on them. Follow the typical sales practice - make them feel valued. Your communication and actions should convey that their talent and skills will always be respected at your organization and they will grow with you.

How can NurtureBox Help You Ace Passive Candidate Sourcing?

NurtureBox helps you scale your multi-channel outreach for sourcing quality passive talent. We take care of the repeatable tasks that take a majority of your time and effort. Our Chrome extension enables recruitment teams to manage talent pipeline, candidate sourcing and hiring in a hassle-free way.

Sourcing passive candidates to keep your talent pipeline filled and to recruit the best possible individuals is not a cakewalk. Nurturebox fits in your existing technology stack by integrating all the necessary tools to manage and engage your sourced candidates. Here’s how our platform makes hiring the ‘creamy layer’ simpler and more organized for you:

  • Once you find relevant candidates, use our integrations like SIgnalhire to extract contact details from LinkedIn.
  • With just a single click, you can add them to ATS integration using – Recruitee.
  • Automate your engagement through WhatsApp using curated templates.
  • While you are on Gmail – you can add, update and extract contact details of the candidate directly through Nurturebox plugin

  • Track your outreach results to find out what’s working. Double down on that approach of sourcing.


Passive candidate sourcing is more than a skill. For some of the most successful recruiters – it is their go-to method whenever requirements arise for quality hiring. However, the approach and channels for outreach both need to be changed with evolving human behavior. Like any other milestone, passive recruitment also needs a considerable amount of planning and strategy. If you’re new to recruitment, fret not – this guide will help you ace the unique sourcing approach. The key is to make your sourcing and hiring process as simple as possible so that you can focus on more critical tasks - interacting with people. NurtureBox helps you hire better by integrating all the essential tools needed to source candidates easily and further scale your engagement with automation.

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