Where Is Everybody? How to Attract Passive Talent

By Mary Truslow on

Passive talent is a bit of an oxymoron. Right now, in the current job market, some of the best candidates are passive, meaning they are happy where they are and not looking for a new role. As a result, hiring companies with jobs to fill, (and who want to include the best people in their search), will need to go find this more elusive group. And then make it worth their while to move.

Here are a few must-haves to attract passive talent:

Compensation: At the top of the list is compensation. The best people will not make a lateral move. And if the money isn’t appealing, they’ll stay where they are. So, in the interest of time and efficiency, be clear on salary requirements early in your process.

Flexibility: Everyone from Bill Gates to Harvard Business School have purported the benefits of employee flexibility—greater job satisfaction, retention, and productivity. And the best passive talent will move for flexible work arrangements. As Gates predicted in 2005, “Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge.”

Opportunity: With so many people looking to garner new skills and even change roles/industries, be sure to consider attributes and behaviors as highly as (and sometimes greater than) experience. You may be better served training a top performer who is looking for a new opportunity, than hiring someone who meets the role requirements but lacks the enthusiasm and tenacity that will help your company grow.

An Efficient Hiring Process: It’s a candidate’s market. If your hiring process is fraught with too many decision makers, too many steps, a lack of consensus and no clear criteria, you will lose the best candidates to someone else.

Commute: Long commutes are becoming non-starters. If your role requires an in-office presence multiple days per week, save yourself some time and talk to people within a reasonable radius. If the position is predominantly remote, a longer commute might be viable.

Benefits/Healthcare: What used to be almost an afterthought 20 years ago, benefits are now one of the first questions we hear from candidates. Benefits and healthcare should not only be quoted when compensation is being discussed, but also considered as thoughtfully as salary and role requirements.

Cultural Fit: The exact same position can look incredibly different at two different companies—with two different teams, structures and processes. When interviewing, be sure you provide information about the role and ask questions. Get to know not just the candidate’s resume, but who they are and what’s important to them. It’s the only way to determine if they’re going to be a match.