How To Build A Passive Candidate Pipeline

How To Build A Passive Candidate Pipeline

In our recent eBook – The 2018 Recruitment And Technology Trends – UK and Ireland – we found that 74.6% of recruitment agencies have identified “finding talent” as the top challenge for 2018.  Among the primary reasons why finding talent remains such a challenge is, of course, the skills shortage combined with a record low unemployment rate in the UK. For recruiters, this translates to the majority of quality candidates already being employed. In fact, these “passive candidates” make up the vast majority of the market, globally 75% of the workforce.

What Is The Difference Between An Active And Passive Candidate?

By definition, an active candidate is “actively” looking for a job whereas a passive candidate is not. Usually, a passive candidate already has employment but could be open to hearing about the right opportunity. LinkedIn’s U.S. & Canada Talent Trends report advises; “90 percent of professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities.”

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Building A Passive Candidate Pipeline?


The nature of a passive candidate means that they are unlikely to be regularly interviewing for a number of roles because, realistically, they will only be looking to move for that next ideal opportunity. This means that when you do have a role that they are interested in, they are more likely to be exclusively your candidate.

Quality Over Quantity
When building your passive candidate pipeline, you can focus on building relationships with high quality candidates that you know have the motivation, skills, experience and cultural fit that your clients will be looking for in their current or future workforce requirements.

Undercover Recruiter reported that passive candidates are 120% more likely to want to make an impact at a new business than active candidates. As a recruitment agency, your reputation is built on the quality of the candidates you provide to your clients so the more reliable they are, the better your agency appears.

Honesty and transparency from a candidate is critical for any successful placement. Due to the job security that passive candidates can fall back on, they tend to be more open and honest in both what they are looking for and what they will accept if offered. Active candidates may be willing to accept a role even if they do not intend to stay there, simply because they may need employment.


Important Vs Urgent
Time management and prioritisation are two key skills of a successful recruiter, as you are consistently spending your day balancing important versus urgent candidate and client requirements. Building a passive candidate pipeline takes time and you don’t often see any immediate ROI. But, over time, as your pool starts to grow, you might not have to advertise every single role you receive from your clients, as you already have that ideal candidate in your passive candidate pipeline.

Negotiating Counter Offers
A counter offer from a candidate’s current employer is always challenging after you have spent time building a relationship, identifying a new opportunity and coordinating the interview process. As most passive candidates are currently employed, take a read of our blog on 7 Counter Offer Statistics Every Recruiter Needs To Know so, when you are presented with a counter offer, you have some stats and information to discuss with your candidate.

4 Tips For Building a Passive Candidate Pipline

1. Keep Your Friends Close (And Your Past Candidates Closer)

A. Stay in contact with your previously placed candidates
With your previously placed candidates, you can rely on their ability to perform at an interview and you already have that relationship based on finding them their current job. Set a reminder every 6 months to check how they are doing and you’ll be first to recognise when they may be interested in hearing about new opportunities.

B. Stay in contact with candidates you didn’t place
You may have represented candidates in the past who accepted another job offer. By keeping in regular contact with them, you can ensure that the next time they’re looking to move for another role, your name will be first on their mind.

C. Make use of your existing network
Ask your circle of friends if they, or any of their colleagues, might be interested in new opportunities.

2. Build Your Personal Brand

It is one thing to represent your recruitment agencies brand but, as a recruiter, a lot relies on you, as a individual. The more you can gain a positive reputation in your specialist sector, the more receptive passive candidates will be to talking to you.

Write blogs or share industry news on social media that will resonate with your target candidates. By becoming part of the online community, you will begin to build relationships with relevant candidates without thrusting your open vacancies in their face. Optimise your LinkedIn profile to be as transparent as possible and encourage personal reviews on your LinkedIn profile from past candidates.

Attend events that your candidates will likely attend. It doesn’t always have to be business events either. Social events can be more lucrative for building real relationships and no matter how helpful new technology can be, there is nothing more effective than meeting someone face-to-face.

3. Be Authentic

At every point of communication with a passive candidate, authenticity is paramount. Passive candidates are often strangers before you contact them, they don’t owe you anything so by being personal, polite and genuinely interested in their career, you can give yourself the best chance of connecting with them.

4. Use The Tools At Your Disposal

Believe it or not, your recruitment software can also be an excellent tool for helping to attract and manage your passive candidate pipeline:

  • Add a personal touch to your communication with past candidates by recalling earlier conversations recorded in the communication log.
  • Use your recruitment software to schedule in reminders to contact passive candidates – don’t rely on your memory for everything.
  • Segment your candidate pipeline into active and passive candidates so you can manage where you need to devote your time.

Building a continuous pipeline of passive candidate is a long game tactic, as it takes time each day to reach out and build those relationships. But by focusing and developing pipelines of both active and passive candidates, you will be in a better stance to fill your clients roles quicker and more effectively.

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