How to source passive candidates

Learn how to source passive candidates, from optimizing your career site to leveraging social media and employee referrals.

Avatar of Valentina Behrouzi

Valentina Behrouzi

I'm Val, one of the Marketing Managers here at Teamtailor, responsible for our Global marketing. I love talking about candidate experience and how we can strive to make hiring more inclusive.

What are passive candidates and why should you be trying to source them?

If a candidate is not actively applying for a new job role, that makes them a passive candidate. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re not open to new opportunities. In fact, according to LinkedIn, 70% of the workforce worldwide is passive talent, while the rest actively seek jobs.

There are several things you can do to include sourcing passive candidates in your recruitment strategy and we'll look at those below:

Have a strong career site

A career site that showcases your employer brand is just as important for passive candidates as it is for active ones. Your career site is your company’s essence and could very well be the deciding factor between a candidate choosing to work with you or not. 

All candidates will end up on your career site while they’re doing their research, so it’s crucial to make sure it’s user-friendly, accessible and encompasses everything you want your candidates to know about your business.

This is also a great opportunity to show off your employees! Photos, videos, or Team Stories can put them in the limelight, as well as boast your culture and workplace activities.

To learn more about employer branding strategies, take a look here!

We're seeing so many benefits – we’re practically swimming in applications, where previously we’d be lucky to get five in a week. I think the career page is just so much more enticing than what we had before – being able to shout about our benefits is something we were hoping to do and I’m glad that it’s clearly resonated with some people!"

Tanglwst Melville, People Assistant, Vivobarefoot

Use your own talent pool

Just because a candidate isn’t right for a current role, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be perfect for one opening up in the future. Being proactive with your hiring means that when the time comes to fill a role, you could already have a group of candidates ready to be reached out to. 

This is why it’s incredibly important to always provide an impeccable candidate experience, so even if they’re not hired, they still view your company fondly and are more likely to consider joining in the future.

An Applicant Tracking System with a built-in candidate database can help you make this process less manual. For example, if a candidate doesn’t find a role they like currently, they could subscribe to hear about future opportunities in the field they’re interested in.

You could also use Nurture campaigns to keep your talent pool updated and engaged on what’s happening in your business, so you’ll always be top of mind.

Social Media

Hiring should be treated like marketing. 79% of job seekers check you on social media before they apply to a role, so it's important to make sure you're leveraging this to generate reach and drive traffic to your career site.

Use your social channels to really showcase your employer brand and what it’s like to work for your company. Highlight your employees, the benefits you offer, as well as the general culture and vibe of your company.

With a strong presence on social media, you can expand your reach and create positive associations with your brand. So whether people are applying or not, they’ll see you as a great place to work!


Each of your employees has a whole network of previous colleagues, friends, or professionals they’ve networked with along the way, who could potentially be a great fit for any job roles you’re looking to fill. There’s a good chance that if you’re happy with your employees, you’ll also be happy with the people they know.

A great way to get a steady influx of candidates is to set up an internal referral scheme. Make it easy for your employees to refer their connections and if you have the budget for it, consider setting up some kind of incentive as well to encourage more engagement with your scheme.

Candidate chat

Just because a candidate isn’t ready to apply, they may still have questions about your company, the process, or about a role they’ve seen. In this case, it’s a nice idea to implement a chat box on your career site.

If your Applicant Tracking System has a career site attached, there could be a candidate chat already included. You can decide when it’s active and on which pages of your career site. That way, even passive candidates can ask questions and get quick answers which could determine whether they decide to apply for a role in the future or not.

There are a ton of ways you can tailor your recruitment process to include sourcing passive candidates, which could help save you time and money in the long run by keeping your talent pool healthy! 

Want to see how a career site can help you attract the talent you need?

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