Your 3-Step Recruiting Team Makeover

How to Change Your Culture for Passive Talent Success

There’s a reason over 60 percent of recruiting leaders today focus on passive talent. Sourcing passive candidates is the single most effective thing you can do to increase quality of hire and build an all-star organization.

However, many companies are stuck in old recruiting cultures: limiting themselves to candidates that are actively looking and available rather than fostering a culture of proactive head-hunting. If your company could use a culture refresh (or dramatic overhaul!) here’s how to make your team, peers, and leaders march to the same passive talent drum. 

1. Build the business case

  • Get your decision makers’ attention with cold, hard facts
    Choose an area you are struggling to find talent for and highlight the problems with posting and praying: for example, “time to hire is x days and increasing” or “we received 130 applicants, only two of whom were qualified”. Share the research showing that 80 percent of working professionals aren’t looking for jobs. Run some basic searches on LinkedIn to size the populations you’re trying to target. 

  • Highlight competitors’ success
    Comb case studies to share which competitors are investing in passive talent recruiting and what they’ve achieved. 

  • Show what you’re (really) spending today
    Tally up all costs – internal and agency - across departments to calculate your annual sourcing spend. Often this cost is absorbed by business units and never aggregated so your leaders may be shocked by the total. Propose reinvesting a portion – even on a trial basis – to prove the ROI of a direct sourcing approach. Make sure you ask for enough time – 3 to 6 months - to be successful. 

  • Take advantage of your size
    If you’re a small or medium-sized business, cut to the chase by zeroing in on the key people in your organization who are unofficial “culture officers” or who carry the most decisionmaking sway. 

2. Invest in your people

  • Focus on one actionable skill to develop each month
    For example: social media skills, engaging candidates, delivering an elevator pitch, crafting an InMail or leveraging data.

  • Carve out time to work on passive candidate recruiting
    Recruiters need to actively network and create long-term relationships with potential candidates. Help them prioritize. Non-referred, inbound candidates who don’t match hiring manager needs can wait. 

  • Use incentives to encourage passive talent recruiting
    Recognize and celebrate winners. If you can, compensate recruiters like sales reps by offering real incentives such as bonuses. 

  • Provide hands-on training
    Some formats you could try: “Polish Your Profile” or “Profiles to Recruit” workshops; InMail best practice lunch sessions; deep dives on different business lines to help recruiters understand recruiting priorities.
  • Partner with your hiring managers
    Train hiring managers on passive vs. active talent recruiting and how to talk about your employer brand. Help them polish their profiles and involve them in the sourcing process. Leverage their networks to identify strong potential candidates from their prior lives and get the word out about key openings.

3. Monitor and communicate your progress

  • Praise team triumphs
    Orchestrate early wins to build support. Publicly praise good performance inside and outside your team. 

  • Know your numbers
    Track your team’s success in terms of key business metrics – not just recruiting. Hard cost savings are always popular with executives. 

  • Don’t be shy
    Send regular highlights on passive talent recruiting to business leaders outside of HR to keep it top of mind.


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