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Published in Talent Sourcing

Published in Talent Sourcing

Published in Talent Sourcing

Asha Martinez

Asha Martinez

Asha Martinez

May 1, 2022

May 1, 2022

May 1, 2022

How to Engage and Recruit Passive Talent

How to Engage and Recruit Passive Talent

How to Engage and Recruit Passive Talent

To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent

To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent

To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent

Let us guess; you’re probably here because someone told you to come up with some “out of the box” ideas for recruiting talent. It’s the age-old dilemma of recruiters and hiring managers alike: how do you consistently engage highly qualified candidates in today’s uncertain economy? 

The global workforce fluctuates between labor shortages and unmanageable volumes of candidates at the drop of a hat (or a big tech layoff). It often feels like all that has to happen to cause these volatile swings is a so-called “thought leader” whispering the words “economic turn.” To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent.

What is passive talent?

Passive talent are candidates that are qualified for a role but, unlike active candidates, are not seeking a new position with your company. 

Most passive talent candidates are already employed, not looking for a new role, or at the very least have yet to submit their name in the application process. This pool of professionals has yet to enter your talent pipeline, so it is up to you to proactively source and recruit them for a role.

Why Passive talent is worth seeking out

To understand the benefits of passive recruiting, you first have to know why they might not be looking for a new job in the first place. 

Passive candidates are often:

  1. In high demand: Passive candidates often include some of the most qualified professionals in their fields - so qualified they’re rarely (if ever) actively applying. 

▶ The Benefit: You’re sourcing the best of the best in talent!

  1. Work in a different industry or field: Some of the best talent have transferable skills, but unless you pursue them, they may not realize they even have the skill set for a different industry or field.

▶ The Benefit: You get highly talented candidates that other recruiters in your industry aren’t even looking at. And these candidates bring  broad perspectives to the work they will do in your industry—which often translates into more innovative ideas.

  1. Suffer from Imposter Syndrome: Some of the most talented and self-aware people struggle with imposter syndrome. Their self-doubt might prevent them from ever applying for roles they’re highly qualified for unless someone (you!) recognizes their skill and comes to them first.

▶ The Benefit: You get to mine hidden gems of talent that would otherwise go unnoticed. According to research by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, recruiting passive talent increases your talent pool by 70%(!). 

3 tactics for sourcing passive talent

Unlike recruiting active candidates, passive talent requires you to build the relationship. It’s like asking someone on a date that doesn’t even know you exist. You might get a real catch, but you’ll need to build up to it.

1. Research the landscape

The first step in sourcing passive candidates is researching who is doing great work in the industry and the titles, qualifications, education, and technical skills associated with the strongest candidates. 

Some of the ways you can approach this research are looking at:

  1. 💪 Your competitors: Who has a strong product or reputation in your space? And who is the talent working for them? 

  2. 🤝 Allied Fields: Are there other industries or roles that require the same core competencies and have transferable skills to the role you are trying to fill? 

🤓 Internal Talent: Who is already making a positive impact in your organization and what qualities do they have you can look for in your next hire? Is there underutilized talent you could promote internally (a.k.a. the quiet hire)?

2. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Whether you are a hiring manager or a recruiter working with a hiring manager, guide your search by developing an ICP. An ICP should set clear parameters so everyone on your hiring team can use it as a litmus test for candidates. 


While setting clear parameters for your talent search is important, that doesn’t mean your ICP can’t evolve. Continually refine what “top talent” means to your organization, not just generally in your industry. Your ICP needs to be unique to your organization since every company has different talent gaps, team structures, and types of problems they’re trying to solve.

Build a critical feedback loop into your hiring process to adapt your ICPs regularly by:

  • Debriefing with the hiring team after every interview to identify what tangible or intangible attributes the best candidates consistently have.

  • Assessing internal talent regularly to identify what skills or critical ways of thinking are making the most impact on your organization’s goals.

3. Build a network

To recruit passive talent, you might have to play the long game—nurturing professional  relationships for months or years until the right opportunity for both your organization and the candidate comes along. Nurturing those relationships starts with gaining visibility through networking; curating a reputation as a desirable employer, and building relationships with prospective talent. 

Generate opportunities to connect with talent by:

  • Asking for reviews from current or past employees - Employee reviews are like your Net Promoter Score (NPS) in hiring. Even if you do everything to present your organization in a positive light, candidates still want to hear directly from people who have experience working at your organization. Employee reviews on websites like Glassdoor can make or break an opportunity to work with top talent, so be intentional about building a process for garnering employee reviews.


  • Building an employee referral program - Passive candidates aren’t just more likely to consider a role at your organization if an existing employee refers them—-according to Glassdoor, they're also 56% more likely to get an offer. Typically, this is because the candidate comes from a trusted source who understands the organization's needs and company culture.

Image Recommendation: Source

  • Joining industry groups -  According to LinkedIn, 56% of professionals look for new opportunities on professional social networks. Curate conversations with talent in industry groups like Stack Overflow, LinkedIn Groups, and PeopleGrove to discover talent and build your employer reputation. 


  • Hosting industry events - Whether it’s an AMA with leadership on social media, an industry professional happy hour, or a conference, hosting events provide opportunities to connect. These events are a  catalyst to build your employer brand and open doors with talent that have experience solving the same problems your organization is.


  • Starting industry discussions - Creating a podcast, blog, or webinar on new or polarizing industry topics is a great way to draw comments from talent in the industry. From there, you can scour the comments for the best answers and begin developing relationships with potential candidates. This is a great way to find  passive job seekers without them ever submitting a resume.

Use Covey to recruit highly qualified, passive talent

We get it—if you're an SMB or startup, you probably have a small or nonexistent talent acquisition team. So, how on earth are you supposed to pursue passive candidates, keep up with active job seekers, and other demands of your job? Don't worry; we're not going to just drop all this knowledge on you and then leave you hanging when it comes to implementing it.

A talent acquisition tool like Covey is the key to consistently building a strong pool of passive candidates—even as a small business. Yeah, we know we're biased—but we built Covey because we recognized how much small teams struggle to execute a competitive recruiting strategy. At Covey, we believe the size of your team shouldn't determine the quality of the talent you should have access to. Book a demo today to find out more.

Let us guess; you’re probably here because someone told you to come up with some “out of the box” ideas for recruiting talent. It’s the age-old dilemma of recruiters and hiring managers alike: how do you consistently engage highly qualified candidates in today’s uncertain economy? 

The global workforce fluctuates between labor shortages and unmanageable volumes of candidates at the drop of a hat (or a big tech layoff). It often feels like all that has to happen to cause these volatile swings is a so-called “thought leader” whispering the words “economic turn.” To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent.

What is passive talent?

Passive talent are candidates that are qualified for a role but, unlike active candidates, are not seeking a new position with your company. 

Most passive talent candidates are already employed, not looking for a new role, or at the very least have yet to submit their name in the application process. This pool of professionals has yet to enter your talent pipeline, so it is up to you to proactively source and recruit them for a role.

Why Passive talent is worth seeking out

To understand the benefits of passive recruiting, you first have to know why they might not be looking for a new job in the first place. 

Passive candidates are often:

  1. In high demand: Passive candidates often include some of the most qualified professionals in their fields - so qualified they’re rarely (if ever) actively applying. 

▶ The Benefit: You’re sourcing the best of the best in talent!

  1. Work in a different industry or field: Some of the best talent have transferable skills, but unless you pursue them, they may not realize they even have the skill set for a different industry or field.

▶ The Benefit: You get highly talented candidates that other recruiters in your industry aren’t even looking at. And these candidates bring  broad perspectives to the work they will do in your industry—which often translates into more innovative ideas.

  1. Suffer from Imposter Syndrome: Some of the most talented and self-aware people struggle with imposter syndrome. Their self-doubt might prevent them from ever applying for roles they’re highly qualified for unless someone (you!) recognizes their skill and comes to them first.

▶ The Benefit: You get to mine hidden gems of talent that would otherwise go unnoticed. According to research by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, recruiting passive talent increases your talent pool by 70%(!). 

3 tactics for sourcing passive talent

Unlike recruiting active candidates, passive talent requires you to build the relationship. It’s like asking someone on a date that doesn’t even know you exist. You might get a real catch, but you’ll need to build up to it.

1. Research the landscape

The first step in sourcing passive candidates is researching who is doing great work in the industry and the titles, qualifications, education, and technical skills associated with the strongest candidates. 

Some of the ways you can approach this research are looking at:

  1. 💪 Your competitors: Who has a strong product or reputation in your space? And who is the talent working for them? 

  2. 🤝 Allied Fields: Are there other industries or roles that require the same core competencies and have transferable skills to the role you are trying to fill? 

🤓 Internal Talent: Who is already making a positive impact in your organization and what qualities do they have you can look for in your next hire? Is there underutilized talent you could promote internally (a.k.a. the quiet hire)?

2. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Whether you are a hiring manager or a recruiter working with a hiring manager, guide your search by developing an ICP. An ICP should set clear parameters so everyone on your hiring team can use it as a litmus test for candidates. 


While setting clear parameters for your talent search is important, that doesn’t mean your ICP can’t evolve. Continually refine what “top talent” means to your organization, not just generally in your industry. Your ICP needs to be unique to your organization since every company has different talent gaps, team structures, and types of problems they’re trying to solve.

Build a critical feedback loop into your hiring process to adapt your ICPs regularly by:

  • Debriefing with the hiring team after every interview to identify what tangible or intangible attributes the best candidates consistently have.

  • Assessing internal talent regularly to identify what skills or critical ways of thinking are making the most impact on your organization’s goals.

3. Build a network

To recruit passive talent, you might have to play the long game—nurturing professional  relationships for months or years until the right opportunity for both your organization and the candidate comes along. Nurturing those relationships starts with gaining visibility through networking; curating a reputation as a desirable employer, and building relationships with prospective talent. 

Generate opportunities to connect with talent by:

  • Asking for reviews from current or past employees - Employee reviews are like your Net Promoter Score (NPS) in hiring. Even if you do everything to present your organization in a positive light, candidates still want to hear directly from people who have experience working at your organization. Employee reviews on websites like Glassdoor can make or break an opportunity to work with top talent, so be intentional about building a process for garnering employee reviews.


  • Building an employee referral program - Passive candidates aren’t just more likely to consider a role at your organization if an existing employee refers them—-according to Glassdoor, they're also 56% more likely to get an offer. Typically, this is because the candidate comes from a trusted source who understands the organization's needs and company culture.

Image Recommendation: Source

  • Joining industry groups -  According to LinkedIn, 56% of professionals look for new opportunities on professional social networks. Curate conversations with talent in industry groups like Stack Overflow, LinkedIn Groups, and PeopleGrove to discover talent and build your employer reputation. 


  • Hosting industry events - Whether it’s an AMA with leadership on social media, an industry professional happy hour, or a conference, hosting events provide opportunities to connect. These events are a  catalyst to build your employer brand and open doors with talent that have experience solving the same problems your organization is.


  • Starting industry discussions - Creating a podcast, blog, or webinar on new or polarizing industry topics is a great way to draw comments from talent in the industry. From there, you can scour the comments for the best answers and begin developing relationships with potential candidates. This is a great way to find  passive job seekers without them ever submitting a resume.

Use Covey to recruit highly qualified, passive talent

We get it—if you're an SMB or startup, you probably have a small or nonexistent talent acquisition team. So, how on earth are you supposed to pursue passive candidates, keep up with active job seekers, and other demands of your job? Don't worry; we're not going to just drop all this knowledge on you and then leave you hanging when it comes to implementing it.

A talent acquisition tool like Covey is the key to consistently building a strong pool of passive candidates—even as a small business. Yeah, we know we're biased—but we built Covey because we recognized how much small teams struggle to execute a competitive recruiting strategy. At Covey, we believe the size of your team shouldn't determine the quality of the talent you should have access to. Book a demo today to find out more.

Let us guess; you’re probably here because someone told you to come up with some “out of the box” ideas for recruiting talent. It’s the age-old dilemma of recruiters and hiring managers alike: how do you consistently engage highly qualified candidates in today’s uncertain economy? 

The global workforce fluctuates between labor shortages and unmanageable volumes of candidates at the drop of a hat (or a big tech layoff). It often feels like all that has to happen to cause these volatile swings is a so-called “thought leader” whispering the words “economic turn.” To build highly qualified talent pools---even in the face of market swings---you'll need to recruit passive talent.

What is passive talent?

Passive talent are candidates that are qualified for a role but, unlike active candidates, are not seeking a new position with your company. 

Most passive talent candidates are already employed, not looking for a new role, or at the very least have yet to submit their name in the application process. This pool of professionals has yet to enter your talent pipeline, so it is up to you to proactively source and recruit them for a role.

Why Passive talent is worth seeking out

To understand the benefits of passive recruiting, you first have to know why they might not be looking for a new job in the first place. 

Passive candidates are often:

  1. In high demand: Passive candidates often include some of the most qualified professionals in their fields - so qualified they’re rarely (if ever) actively applying. 

▶ The Benefit: You’re sourcing the best of the best in talent!

  1. Work in a different industry or field: Some of the best talent have transferable skills, but unless you pursue them, they may not realize they even have the skill set for a different industry or field.

▶ The Benefit: You get highly talented candidates that other recruiters in your industry aren’t even looking at. And these candidates bring  broad perspectives to the work they will do in your industry—which often translates into more innovative ideas.

  1. Suffer from Imposter Syndrome: Some of the most talented and self-aware people struggle with imposter syndrome. Their self-doubt might prevent them from ever applying for roles they’re highly qualified for unless someone (you!) recognizes their skill and comes to them first.

▶ The Benefit: You get to mine hidden gems of talent that would otherwise go unnoticed. According to research by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, recruiting passive talent increases your talent pool by 70%(!). 

3 tactics for sourcing passive talent

Unlike recruiting active candidates, passive talent requires you to build the relationship. It’s like asking someone on a date that doesn’t even know you exist. You might get a real catch, but you’ll need to build up to it.

1. Research the landscape

The first step in sourcing passive candidates is researching who is doing great work in the industry and the titles, qualifications, education, and technical skills associated with the strongest candidates. 

Some of the ways you can approach this research are looking at:

  1. 💪 Your competitors: Who has a strong product or reputation in your space? And who is the talent working for them? 

  2. 🤝 Allied Fields: Are there other industries or roles that require the same core competencies and have transferable skills to the role you are trying to fill? 

🤓 Internal Talent: Who is already making a positive impact in your organization and what qualities do they have you can look for in your next hire? Is there underutilized talent you could promote internally (a.k.a. the quiet hire)?

2. Create an Ideal Candidate Profile (ICP)

Whether you are a hiring manager or a recruiter working with a hiring manager, guide your search by developing an ICP. An ICP should set clear parameters so everyone on your hiring team can use it as a litmus test for candidates. 


While setting clear parameters for your talent search is important, that doesn’t mean your ICP can’t evolve. Continually refine what “top talent” means to your organization, not just generally in your industry. Your ICP needs to be unique to your organization since every company has different talent gaps, team structures, and types of problems they’re trying to solve.

Build a critical feedback loop into your hiring process to adapt your ICPs regularly by:

  • Debriefing with the hiring team after every interview to identify what tangible or intangible attributes the best candidates consistently have.

  • Assessing internal talent regularly to identify what skills or critical ways of thinking are making the most impact on your organization’s goals.

3. Build a network

To recruit passive talent, you might have to play the long game—nurturing professional  relationships for months or years until the right opportunity for both your organization and the candidate comes along. Nurturing those relationships starts with gaining visibility through networking; curating a reputation as a desirable employer, and building relationships with prospective talent. 

Generate opportunities to connect with talent by:

  • Asking for reviews from current or past employees - Employee reviews are like your Net Promoter Score (NPS) in hiring. Even if you do everything to present your organization in a positive light, candidates still want to hear directly from people who have experience working at your organization. Employee reviews on websites like Glassdoor can make or break an opportunity to work with top talent, so be intentional about building a process for garnering employee reviews.


  • Building an employee referral program - Passive candidates aren’t just more likely to consider a role at your organization if an existing employee refers them—-according to Glassdoor, they're also 56% more likely to get an offer. Typically, this is because the candidate comes from a trusted source who understands the organization's needs and company culture.

Image Recommendation: Source

  • Joining industry groups -  According to LinkedIn, 56% of professionals look for new opportunities on professional social networks. Curate conversations with talent in industry groups like Stack Overflow, LinkedIn Groups, and PeopleGrove to discover talent and build your employer reputation. 


  • Hosting industry events - Whether it’s an AMA with leadership on social media, an industry professional happy hour, or a conference, hosting events provide opportunities to connect. These events are a  catalyst to build your employer brand and open doors with talent that have experience solving the same problems your organization is.


  • Starting industry discussions - Creating a podcast, blog, or webinar on new or polarizing industry topics is a great way to draw comments from talent in the industry. From there, you can scour the comments for the best answers and begin developing relationships with potential candidates. This is a great way to find  passive job seekers without them ever submitting a resume.

Use Covey to recruit highly qualified, passive talent

We get it—if you're an SMB or startup, you probably have a small or nonexistent talent acquisition team. So, how on earth are you supposed to pursue passive candidates, keep up with active job seekers, and other demands of your job? Don't worry; we're not going to just drop all this knowledge on you and then leave you hanging when it comes to implementing it.

A talent acquisition tool like Covey is the key to consistently building a strong pool of passive candidates—even as a small business. Yeah, we know we're biased—but we built Covey because we recognized how much small teams struggle to execute a competitive recruiting strategy. At Covey, we believe the size of your team shouldn't determine the quality of the talent you should have access to. Book a demo today to find out more.