Most recruiters know that reaching passive talent is a must if you are going to reach your hiring goals. Upwards of 70% of job seekers fall into that category. If you fail to tap into this talent pool, you are going to struggle. 

Getting passive candidates to respond is incredibly challenging. While many of the core motivators for accepting a new opportunity aligns with those cited by active job seekers, passive talent doesn’t have the same sense of urgency. They aren’t completely dissatisfied with where they are today, so they’ll only pursue an opening if it genuinely helps their career, feels like a great fit, and comes with an exceptional experience. 

Since many recruiters primarily rely on cold-calling methods when reaching out, you need to intrigue a passive job seeker if you want them to open your message. Then, you have to keep their interest high throughout if you are going to garner a response. 

As a result, many recruiters need to adjust their approach if they want to improve their passive candidate response rates. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips. 

Chose Neutral Subject Lines 

In many cases, when a candidate receives an email, all they see if the sender’s address and the subject line. Depending on how they take this information, they may choose to open the message or ignore it. This means you only have a brief moment to convince them to read the content. 

While you may be tempted to use a subject that shouts “New Career Opportunity” or “Exciting Job Opening,” that’s a bad idea. Most of those are labeled as spam by email filters, even if you use the prospective candidate’s name. Plus, your email will be treated with suspicion, and most won’t open it to find out what you wrote. Similarly, phrases like “Private” or “Confidential” sound sketchy as well. 

Instead of trying to use a salesy subject line, keep it neutral. For example, you could include the candidate’s name and the name of their current employer. While it is a bit vague, it doesn’t come off as threatening or spammy, so it might get opened when other approaches wouldn’t. 

Personalize the Content 

A generic form letter isn’t going to entice top talent. If your message looks like a cut and paste script, most readers will assume that you’re doing the email equivalent of carpet bombing, essentially sending the same thing out to dozens (if not hundreds) or potential matches. 

If you want to capture the attention of the reader, you need to personalize the email. If a mutual connection referred you, mention that person by name. Include details about the recipient’s current position and company, and indicate you are hiring for a particular job. 

By forging a connection, you increase your odds of getting a response. 80% of candidates would choose one position over another based on the formation of a personal relationship during the recruitment process. By cultivating a connection early, you may come out ahead of the competition. 

Embrace Brevity 

When you reach out via email, you want to be straightforward and brief. Working professionals and in-demand candidates are busy, so you need to convey your core message in five seconds of reading time or less. 

Highlight Your Value Proposition 

If you want a passive candidate to respond, you need to give them a reason. The mere fact that a job is open isn’t enough. Instead, you need to show them what you or an employer brings to the table that benefits the job seeker. 

Consider how the opportunity would interest the candidate. What motivation for making a change does it tap? What would compel them to work with your or the company? Once you determine what that answer is, showcase it quickly. 92% of professionals would be open to leaving their employer if a business with an excellent reputation made them an offer. If you’re recruiting for an employer of choice, use that to your advantage. 

Include a Time-Specific Call to Action 

When you close out your message, don’t just say, “Thank you.” Instead, try to work them into the funnel by including a call to action that’s time-specific. A surprising 90% of professionals are willing to at least talk about an open position. However, since passive candidates don’t have an innate sense of urgency about finding a new role, but you need to create it. 

For example, you could ask if they are available to discuss the opportunity over the phone at 6:30 pm that evening. This makes it specific and places it in the near future, increasing the odds that the candidate will reply quickly. 

Follow Up Right 

If you haven’t received a response, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow up. However, you need to do it the right way. After three to five days, forward the original message and add some new content. You can reference the initial email and create a new call to action. If they overlooked your first one or forgot to reply, it will now be at the top of their inbox again. 

Ultimately, the process above can help you improve your passive candidate response rates. If you’d like to learn more about tapping into this valuable talent pool, the team at Cloutera can help. Contact us with your questions today and see how our recruitment experts can benefit you. 

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