Authentic Engagement of the Passive Candidate – Coaching the Hiring Manager by @GregBradleyCPC

Your talent acquisition team has invested significant financial resources into robust sourcing tools and sourcers. Pipelines have been built; candidates from competitors have been engaged, qualified, and submitted for the first phase of meeting with the hiring manager. All of that hard work and behind-the-scenes efforts often hit a wall or fall into a dark hole at this stage.

The first meeting, often perceived as a formal interview in the eyes of the hiring manager, may seem to have little urgency from the hiring manager in scheduling a timely meeting with the passive candidate. Once this meeting takes place (phone or in person), the hiring manager grills the candidate in a one-sided interview style. They may leave the candidate with the feeling of being “one of many” in consideration for the role. The hiring manager (and possibly recruiters) may also provide no feedback to the candidate following the first meeting. Sound familiar? If it does, your conversion rate of passive candidates to interested, then hires, is not only low, but potentially poisoning the pipeline going forward.

Hiring managers often attribute the poor conversion rate and low number of hires to sourcing, but the problem may lie with their own process. Talent acquisition is not off the hook in sharing the blame. Hiring managers may have the final decision in the selection of their hires, but they are also a partner in the recruiting and hiring process. It’s incumbent upon talent acquisition managers, recruiters and sourcers to educate, changing the paradigm hiring managers have in the process.

After 20 years in Talent Acquisition, I’ve found it’s best not to assume that  just because a hiring manager has a lot of experience or is well respected he or she understands and utilizes best practices in engaging a passive candidate. One-on-one consulting can be and should be an ongoing responsibility for every recruiter and sourcer. I have used a change-management approach to introduce these best practices to Hiring Managers as a group (and in some cases recruiting teams). The deck I have designed and delivered to multiple organizations is designed to produce engagement and dialogue with the audience. Here I will cover some higher level points, breaking down specific subject matter in subsequent white papers.

Getting buy-in will not be immediate with the entire audience. Some will push back based on their own understanding of what the process should look like. That’s ok. You will need to make sound points in your presentation and may need to use the success of those in the audience as benchmarks, after they have implemented the best practices.

Points to cover in your presentation:

1) The Definition of a Passive Candidate

2) Degrees of Passivity

The Inquisitive Passive.
The Attainable Passive.
The Loyal Passive.
The Unattainable Passive.

3) Sourcing

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Intake, Identifying, Pipelining, Reporting.
Candidate Engagement and Development.
Submittal Process and Details (Individual vs. Short List).

4) Hiring Manager Candidate Engagement

Urgency and Speed in first contact.
Be accommodating and respectful of the candidates’ schedule.
Exploratory Call vs. Detailed Interview.
First Impressions in the candidate’s eyes.
Sell the candidate on the opportunity, company, and team.
Address their questions, concerns and objections first.
Meaningful Dialogue – qualify the candidate within the dialogue exchange.
Be fully engaged – no distractions.
Again, not an interview. Gain their interest then schedule next steps.
Clarify next steps, follow up, timelines and process to move forward. Be accommodating.
Close the loop with candidates not moved forward to hire.
Urgency and commitment to the offer.
(Understand these are subject matter bullet points that contain discrete discussion points with examples during a presentation. I will highlight each topic in forthcoming posts as part of this series)

Hiring managers and talent acquisition need to work together as partners in the recruiting and hiring process. Companies that set the bar high understand recruiting is the responsibility of every employee. The process involving recruiters, sourcers, coordinators and hiring managers is a team concept and commitment to authentic candidate engagement. The engagement process differs with passive candidates as compared to active candidates and is crucial in hiring top talent.

Passive candidates need a compelling reason to leave their current employer. There is a proven method where talent acquisition and hiring managers engage passive candidates to addresses their personal needs and concerns. As part of this process we uncover the issues important to the candidate while at the same time, we are qualifying against the businesses’ needs, goals and culture of the company. This approach helps to educate the potential candidate, identify complications, and fosters personal engagement quickly. These personal preference factors drive greater conversion rates. Side-effectsof this approach include decreased time-to-fill, greater quality of hire, and a pipeline of “silver-medalists” for future consideration.

Regarding best practices for passive candidates through authentic engagement, let me leave you with this final thought:

Tailor and treat the individual candidate experience with the same level of importance and dedication as you do external customer experience. Your company’s growth and survival depends on it!

Greg Bradley is a 20 year talent industry veteran with proven success through leadership roles in corporate, RPO, contingent workforce and search firm sourcing, recruiting and sales. He is a current Principal / Managing Director with INHOUSE Recruiting and Execudyn Talent Consulting Group.

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