Three Tips to Identify, Attract & Land a Passive Prospect


I cringe when I think of what I didn’t know back in the 90s when I started my recruiting career. I wasn’t offered any training, so I am sure I broke many rules. I can’t even be sure that we had job descriptions, and my employer paid little importance to culture and turnover. Hiring today could not be more different.

Over the last few years, when unemployment was low, many industry employers struggled to hire and to retain talent. If I had a dollar for every time someone said “I advertised our job, but we just don’t get quality applicants” I would be a rich woman. For success in talent acquisition, a reactive strategy will not deliver what you want or need. Companies need to be more proactive to win at hiring and retention, especially when we read that the younger generations will not offer the loyalty or longevity of previous generations--we can all expect more turnover in the future.

Now with a higher need than ever before, our staffs need to be filled with top-notch professionals who can be trained to represent our products and services. Relocation is getting more difficult so that brings on another challenge, where can we find strong candidates?

Start with the Job Profile

The first step to identify who should be on your pipeline of potential hires is to review your job profiles. These should be updated annually and be more than a few paragraphs long. They are a selling, hiring, review and exit tool.

Too often media companies limit their potential by including too narrow of qualifications. Does a seller really need a 3.5 GPA? Will you only consider someone from media as they are easier to train? Are only those looking for full-time jobs being considered? Do they need to live near so they can be at the office every day? Really think about how you may open up some qualifications to reach a larger pool of prospects.

Brand Your Culture

Are you known as a great place to work? Do your employees brag about how much they love their jobs? In media, we all do a lot for our communities. The more you can highlight how you care for your staff, their families and the community, will greatly benefit you in the quality of people who want to learn more about employment at your company.

To have an effective talent acquisition strategy, you need to have a strong story. You must be prepared to sell your opportunities and to promote your brand as a top employer. People want growth potential, flexibility, training, and the ability to earn a strong compensation, all in a family-like atmosphere—so be sure to position your offerings.

Have an informative, up-to-date website where people can learn about you as an employer. Include your mission, how you help people grow their careers, an overview of your training and of course, fun stuff that you do. Include testimonials from a diverse group of staff, use video and pictures. Also, leverage social media to ensure your employment brand has ongoing visibility.

Develop Your Pipeline

A screenshot of a group of people posing for the camera    Description automatically generatedAs a professional recruiter, I always encourage clients to do their due diligence and see who they can find on their own before investing in our service. Once it comes to me, my search focuses on passive prospects, non-job seekers who are happy in their careers and are not looking to make a move. The majority of my placements are with those that I have identified and built a relationship. It is not a quick process, and I often go through hundreds of prospects to find the right person who is open to hearing more.

To build up your pool of passive job seekers, research your community, ask for referrals, search on social media, and see who fits your qualifications. Create a list where you can add names, contact information and notes. Use this list to track your prospects, communications, and action steps. You may have an applicant tracking system which should do this for you, but if not, create your own. Use this list as a marketing tool to keep them apprised of what is going on at your office and to promote your company as a place they should consider working.

Reach out and get to know those on your list. Keep in mind, you are going after them, much like you would a target account. They may not take your call or respond to your email, but you can’t give up.

Once you do connect, keep it conversational. Do not expect them to have a resume or be ready or willing to enter into an interview-like discussion. Share what you know about them and suggest you would like to know more. Could they meet for a cup of coffee? During the conversation look for selling points to use when both of you are ready to move forward. Do not ask them to fill out an application or do a project until they are sold on your opportunity, if not, you may lose them. Always ask them for referrals.

Keep track of what is going on with them, follow up regularly, build that relationship. People want to work for people they like, and trust so be patient. In one instance, a prospect did not pay attention to our recruiter until she made eight attempts. Today, he is happy he took that call, as now he is not only a General Manager, he owns a group of radio stations.

Building and maintaining an active pipeline is essential to pursuing and landing those sought-after prospects.

The C2HR CONference on November 10-17 features sessions on recruiting and more more.   

In addition, our Knowledge Center features a curated collection of articles and resources on talent acquisition.

High Tech, High Touch Recruiting Webinar (on demand)