The Passive Candidate

Candidate Journey

How long does it take you to make an important decision? Probably longer than you’d like. When you are purchasing a product or a service you want to learn more about a company. Before you make a decision, a company needs to establish a warm relationship with you.

Now think about the last time you received a cold sales call. How receptive were you?


The same is true for recruitment, especially when sourcing passive talent. If you’re working full-time, you spend roughly one third of the time you are awake at work. Some people spend more time with their colleagues than with their partner or families. Switching jobs is a life changing decision. Not surprisingly, research by the ADP Research Institute shows that people are looking for more than just a high salary. They’re looking for freedom, knowledge, stability, self-management… But, above all: meaning and purpose.

When you want people to apply to your job, you’re basically selling them a job. There’s a substantial difference between those who are actively looking for a new job and those who are not actively looking, but might be open to considering a new challenge.

Many companies already have their active candidate journey in place. Those who are actively looking for a job will find you. In contrast to active talent, passive talent is much more difficult to reach and that’s why we need to pay attention to the passive candidate journey.

Planning the journey

Passive candidates are not looking for a job, and so they stay away from job boards.  More interestingly, 44% of employed workers see themselves as passive candidates. They spend little to no time applying for jobs. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not interested. In order to reach passive talent, you first need to attract and engage them. If done well, you don’t even need to reach out to them, because they’ll reach out to you.

The candidate journey starts from first view to first day. 3.196 out of 4.021 billion internet users are connected to a social network, this alone makes social media an effective way to reach passive candidates. For attracting passive talent we can use the standard Discover, Engage, and Attract marketing funnel tailored to recruitment. Curious? Read our article about recruitment marketing. In a candidate-driven market, it’s important that your recruitment process is candidate focused.

Because passive talent is less receptive, it is essential that they have a great candidate experience. Candidates are rejecting companies with outdated systems and practices. The term “candidate experience” refers to a candidate’s experience with the recruitment process. By (short) definition, “candidate experience” is a candidate’s overall perception of a company’s recruitment process.

Engage with your candidates

Careerbuilder partnered with an independent researcher, to survey over 5000 candidates, 4 out of 5 candidates said that the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people. Not surprisingly, a bad candidate experience is a major turn off — especially for passive candidates. The number one frustration of job applicants is the lack of response of employers. Imagine having to go through the entire application process without ever hearing from the company ever again. Therefore, it is best to contact your applicants as soon as possible and to keep them engaged. Also, the longer you wait to contact your applicant the higher the chances are they receive another offer.

Candidate experience and candidate engagement are not the same. You can not directly control how a candidate feels about your recruitment process, but engagement is within your control. It is important to engage with your candidates in the right way and at the right time, throughout the entire recruitment process. In a candidate driven market, a candidate-centric approach is key in providing remarkable candidate experience.

Application process

Step two in providing a remarkable candidate experience is cutting out the long and complex application processes. A survey by Careerbuilder shows that 60% of applicants quit filling out online job application because of their length or their complexity. You can think about shortening your application form or eliminating creating accounts in order to apply. When building an application form, only ask for the necessary information. As a recruiter, put yourself in the shoes of your applicant to see if your form is applicant friendly.

The interview

We can’t stress enough the importance of the interview. An unpleasant interview can destroy the entire candidate experience. A survey by LinkedIn showed that 83% of responds said that an unpleasant interview can change their mind about a role or company they once liked. An unpleasant interview can destroy the entire candidate experience.

Consequences of a bad candidate experience

By providing a bad candidate experience your applicants will be less likely to accept a job offer. In fact, 63% of applicants said they would reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience. Additionally, a bad candidate experience will reduce future job applications. You will miss referrals, because an unhappy candidate will tell others not to apply at your firm. Also, think of the people who have read about a negative candidate experience at your company. Last but not least, a bad candidate experience might damage your product brand. Unhappy candidates are less likely to purchase your product or service. You will also you lose sales from their friends and family.

The Takeaway

To summarize, providing a kick-ass candidate experience should be your top priority next to building a strong employer brand. Automation and recruitment technology makes it easier to keep your candidates engaged.  Candidates are rejecting companies with outdated systems and practices. Using the newest recruitment technology will not only help you to attract, engage, convert but also help you to maintain your talent and reduce costs.

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