Candidate-Driven Market: Recruiting Passive Candidates in a Strong Economy

For Employers

candidate-driven market

You may have heard the term “candidate-driven market” as it relates to today’s job market and strong economy.  Because candidates are in higher demand than usual, recruiters and employers have to go the extra mile to attract the best talent. Candidates are currently in the driver’s seat and have choices when it comes to employment, whereas in 2010 they may have taken a less desirable opportunity because any job was better than no job. It’s not just about what a candidate can offer a company; it’s about what a company can offer a candidate.


Active vs. Passive Candidates

When it comes to filling an open position, there are two types of candidates: active and passive. Active candidates are professionals who are currently looking for a new job because of a variety of reasons: they are seeking career growth, wanting to relocate, unhappy in their current role or with their current company, or unemployed. In contrast, passive candidates are employed professionals who are not actively searching for new work, but may be open to a new position if the right opportunity presents itself. Often, candidates most appealing to employers are those that are currently working because their value is recognized by the mere fact that they are already employed by another organization.

Passive candidates may be attractive due to the fact that they are already employed, but can you convince them to leave their current situation? Active candidates already want or need a new job, thus garnering interest requires much less persuasion. Passive candidates do not have the same sense of urgency, even if they recognize that there is always room for improvement in their career.


Employer Branding

There are several ways to make a company appealing in a candidate-driven market. Having a strong employer brand is critical. A company may already be on a candidate’s radar because of their stellar online presence or reputation in their industry, and familiarity will be beneficial in the courting process. On the contrary, lack of awareness or negative perceptions will certainly discourage talent from even engaging the conversation.


Casting a Reel in a Candidate-Driven Market

Most initial correspondence with candidates is presented via email or LinkedIn. The way a message is crafted and what it includes is important in catching a candidate’s attention. With more candidates being approached on social media by recruiters, standing out with a tailored message is key. The time invested into creating personal messages catches attention by mentioning specific skills and a career path that is a match with the given opportunity. If they receive a generic message with no relevant connections to them or their expertise, candidates will be much less likely to respond. Discussing any relevant upward trajectory – such as increased responsibility, compensation, or proximity to their home, is also an attention-getter.


Reeling Them In

Once a candidate responds to the message and would like to learn more about the opportunity is the chance to build genuine excitement and interest. Yes, selling the specs and company perks is important, but a thoughtful method and approach are equally important. Sincere communication is essential to establishing trust and rapport. If candidates do not feel that their best interest is at heart, then they will be less likely to accept the risk of pursuing a new opportunity.

Taking an interest in all aspects of the candidate including their career goals, hobbies, personal life, and if they will be a good fit with the new company and new location, show them that the move is being fully thought through. Talking to a candidate as a caring and thoughtful human being rather than a robot looking to fill a position continues the personalization from the initial correspondence. 

Career growth, salary, company culture, development programs, location, and employee recognition are some of the many factors candidates use to consider a new job. Modify the conversation according to the candidate’s motivations and aspirations. If a candidate is looking for a company culture that values communication and transparency, focus on that more so than the benefits package.

Lastly, reassure confidentiality to alleviate any concern of jeopardizing their current employment. Passive candidates are rarely entertaining other offers. Always present the opportunity at hand with enthusiasm and the right person will match the excitement at the thought of joining a winning team.


At the end of the day, a passive candidate will only consider a new job opportunity in a candidate-driven market if it is what’s best for them and any family they need to consider. It is the role of the recruiter or hiring manager to not only share the whole story, but to also serve as a helpful resource offering guidance during interviews, salary negotiation, and offer acceptance.


This article has been updated from an original Bristol Associates post from 2016.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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