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Leverage employee referrals to hire passive candidates more easily

In December 2022, 55% of France’s active population were actively on the lookout for new professional opportunities.* To make sure you get the most out of the situation, you’re going to have to approach and convince passive candidates, i.e. professionals who aren’t looking for a new job. What makes employee referral a particularly effective channel for recruiting passive candidates? What arguments can your employers use to convince them to join your company?
Leverage employee referrals to hire passive candidates more easily

Reshuffling the recruiting deck to tackle the candidate shortage

Talent acquisition experts are struggling more than ever to hire suitable talent. Take the case of management-grade positions in France, for instance. According to the French agency for the employment of executives (APEC), 82% of companies that hired candidates to management-grade positions over Q2 of 2022 said they had experienced difficulty in doing so, against “only” 58% over Q3 of 2021.

Often, the issue is that there aren’t enough candidates, and the aspirations of today’s professionals have undergone rapid change. For example, more and more aspire to work jobs that are more meaningful and that don’t take a toll on the quality of their personal life. So, to convince them, it has become critical for companies to honour these expectations.

For some specific roles, there are many more vacancies than there are candidates available to fill them. These candidates are sometimes referred to as rare talent, meaning they’re difficult to hire. Rare talent can be of two types:

  • Professionals with rare skills (AI experts, specialised legal advisers, etc.)
  • Senior profiles with many years of experience and a high level of qualification (often passive candidates because they are generally already employed)

Find out more: our complete guide about employee referral

What is it that makes passive candidates so valuable?

In the midst of the talent shortage, it has become a necessity to target profiles who aren’t actively seeking new job opportunities. But besides the necessity, passive candidates also come with specific advantages.

Often the best port of call to fill high-demand positions

As we’ve mentioned, profiles there is a shortage of are often passive candidates, which is why it makes sense to approach these candidates with some prime vacancies you’re looking to find a senior or highly qualified profile for, as it will increase your chances of unearthing that rare gem.

Keep in mind that hiring the wrong people for positions that require a high level of skills can be a very expensive mistake.

A taste for challenge

Imagine you’ve been working for a few years now in a position which you enjoy and provides a comfortable lifestyle, and a recruiter approaches you. If you accept their offer, you’d be taking a considerable risk.

Passive candidates are often up for taking on new challenges and creating a strong impact in their new role.

Competition isn’t as fierce when recruiting passive candidates among rare profiles

Only very few employees in extremely coveted roles are scouting for new career opportunities, and recruiting among active candidates can be difficult due to ferocious competition. Seeing as most sought-after profiles aren’t looking for a new job, approaching them as passive candidates means you’ll face less competition.

Bear in mind though that identifying and convincing a passive candidate is still an arduous task.

Advantages of leveraging employee referral for recruiting passive candidates

Passive candidates often lead to a satisfactory outcome and are a particularly good match for filling roles at a premium. But it is undoubtedly more challenging to attract passive candidates than active candidates.

In order to recruit passive candidates and rare profiles, employee referral has proved to be one of the most effective candidate sourcing methods. Here’s why.

A higher number of role-ready options among passive candidates

There is a strong possibility that the type of profiles you’re looking for are already employed in your company. If this is the case, those employees can recommend members of their own professional network who share the same skills as them, or who work in the same industry. This broadens the number of candidates who meet your criteria.

More highly qualified candidates

To refer a candidate, employees need to be aware of the vacancy requirements, and be fully familiar with the company culture. This usually leads to referred candidates who are well suited to the positions.A QAPA survey revealed that some 59% of recruiters view employee referral as a solution for identifying better qualified profiles.

This is a decisive advantage when it comes to recruiting rare talent. If you hire a mediocre candidate for a key role, expect potentially disastrous consequences!

Faster recruiting processes

Passive candidates often expect speedy hiring operations. Shorten your process to avoid passive candidates turning down your offer. In fact, this is exactly what employee referral programmes allow you to do, through tailored and simplified recruiting steps.

Plus, thanks to employee referral, in theory, you should only receive applications from qualified candidates, which leaves you more time to spend interacting with candidates, and increases responsiveness.

Building trust with passive candidates

Approaching candidates you’ve never talked to before without coming off as intrusive can be really tricky. Those you contact might even feel harassed if you get it wrong. And it certainly won’t make your company look good.

On the contrary, employee referral is a candidate sourcing channel that is intended to be reassuring and gratifying. Passive candidates feel more comfortable when a person they know invites them to apply for a new position.

Convincing passive candidates

The broad network of your own workforce can prove to be the ideal channel for recruiting passive candidates. But to get what you want, your employees must be careful to use meaningful arguments, because passive candidates usually have higher expectations than active candidates. To help you guide your teams to participate in your referral programme in an optimised manner, here are a few points your employees can raise to convince passive candidates.

Company culture

Your company culture is one of your best allies for winning over passive candidates, and your employees are in the best position to promote it because they experience it first-hand.

Presenting your company’s values and work environment can convince a passive candidate that your organisation is a great match for them. More specifically, encourage your teams to share their own personal experiences.

Opportunities for professional development

Passive candidates can be swayed by offers to take on a role that carries a higher level of responsibility than their current role, and career development prospects. If an employee succeeds in identifying someone in their network who matches the criteria of one of your vacancies and has been in their current role for some time, setting out career prospects associated with the new job can be a decisive factor.

This can involve promoting the new opportunity as a challenge for the candidate to take on greater professional responsibilities, or showing the advantages of the new opportunity for the candidate’s career.

Work-life balance

Another factor which candidates value highly is the prospect of striking a healthy work-life balance when taking up a new position. This means your employees can focus on identifying people in their network who may not be actively seeking new professional opportunities, but whose job isn’t providing them with the balance they need. To win them over, employees can, for example, tell them about your company’s flexible work-from-home policy and flexible working hours.

👉 A tool that lets you easily automate your referral program?

*According to a Yougov study, conducted for Meteojob in December 2022.

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