How to Attract Passive Candidates in a Tight Labor Market

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As a new year approaches, most experts agree the economic boom is likely to hold steady in 2020. A great economy is generally good news for companies and workers alike. However, there are always unintended consequences. One of the biggest challenges facing employers is continued worker shortages and the inability to attract passive candidates.

In light of the forecast, wise companies need to further hone their recruitment processes. It’s a mistake to try and wait it out in hopes the job market dynamics change. One of the best ways to address the problem is through a passive candidate recruitment strategy.

Here Are Ways Any Company Can Attract Passive Candidates in a Tight Labor Market:


The world’s largest career-focused social networking site is a terrific tool for passive recruiting. Many business professionals across a wide variety of industries have active profiles. Some even engage daily through posts, likes, and shares.

Company recruiters and hiring managers can scour prospects using targeted keyword searches. Once targets are identified, the searcher can send a connection request with a brief introduction. If the prospect accepts, the recruiter or hiring manager can then send a direct message with a complete job pitch.

LinkedIn also provides increased functionality through a premium membership, which may enable aggressive recruiters to directly message any users (regardless of connection status). Savvy recruiters can also glean valuable contact information from some profiles that include email addresses and even phone numbers!

Word-of-Mouth Referrals

Most companies have employees with friends working at competing firms. But forward-thinking employers embrace this reality as a positive rather than a threat. Current staff can be used to attract passive candidates from other organizations.

The key to word-of-mouth referrals is to provide the proper incentives to both parties—the referring employee and the prospect. The prior is usually motivated by the promise of a generous bonus, while the latter may be enticed by their friend’s sales pitch. Basically, workers who are genuinely pleased with their employer will be the best salespeople.

Other Social Media Channels 

Beyond LinkedIn, other casual social media platforms are also great tools for companies hoping to attract passive candidates. Among these are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Facebook is probably the best of the bunch for most companies, since it boasts the most active users.

Recruiters can post job ads on company profiles and encourage engagement from employees. Some leaders may even consider providing incentives to workers who earn the most likes and shares. Social media is particularly effective in identifying passive candidates, since it extends word-of-mouth reach to a much broader audience.

Industry Conventions

Fun fact: Trade shows and conventions offer more than just guest speakers, industry news, and company kiosks. Many people may not realize it, but savvy managers and recruiters also use the events as opportunities to attract passive candidates.

Although it may sound devious, there’s nothing unethical about the practice. It actually makes perfect sense. All these experienced workers are in one place at one time, and some of them are open to new opportunities. The key is for hiring managers and recruiters to be discrete and respectful when approaching prospects.


The reality is desperate times call for desperate measures, and companies must take the good with the bad. If asked, most business owners will gladly take a booming economy with a tight labor market over a recession with an abundant candidate pool. The key is to get creative and find ways to attract passive candidates.

If your company is seeking top-notch employees, consult with America’s leading staffing agency today!

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If you are looking to hire and need help sourcing great candidates quickly, connect with Goodwin Recruiting