Six Sourcing Strategies for Recruiting Passive Candidates

The pandemic has changed and challenged the job market. In a new report, IQTalent Partners suggests an array of creative approaches, from better job ads to making the best use of talent exchange marketplaces, that will help you find the right talent for your job openings.

December 7, 2020 – The job market as we know it has changed as the world adjusts to the strange year that 2020 has been. Earlier this year, college graduates entered into the worst job market since the Great Depression, with the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent in April.

“This number is thankfully improving as the year comes to a close, but it is a different market from the one just 12 months ago,” Chris Murdock of IQTalent Partners said in a new report. “Some had to make a career change to make ends meet at some point in 2020 and are open to new opportunities, hoping to find a sense of normalcy in the new year. Some candidates were already seeking out new positions at the top of 2020 but decided to put their job search on hold while things got a little… well, crazy.”

As 2020 comes to an end, recruiters now have a mixed bag of candidates. So, what’s the best plan for recruiting passive candidates in 2021? Mr. Murdock said this hiring market requires creative sourcing strategies. He offers these six unique sourcing strategies from IQTalent Partners search consultants:

1. Spice Up Your Job Descriptions

“A well-written job ad will make or break whether passive candidates convert on your job site,” said Mr. Murdock. “When a passive candidate comes across your job opportunity, no matter where they found it, they’ll be more likely to fill out the application if the description really speaks to them.”

To nail your job descriptions, follow these best practices:

  • Avoid the third person. “The ideal candidate” sounds dry—incorporate language with “you” and “we” in it instead.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity within the description. How your company talks about diversity and inclusion will significantly impact whether your job posts attract a diverse pool of candidates. Postings that include even a basic equal opportunity employer statement will fill six percent more quicklythan those that don’t.
  • Use growth-focused language. Rather than terms like “expert” or “natural talent,” use language like “persevere,” “forward thinker,” and “opportunity to grow” to show that your company values growth within positions.
  • Choose precise language over vague action words to keep your descriptions succinct and straightforward.

Chris Murdock is a veteran of the recruiting and talent acquisition industry with 20 years of experience spanning across multiple industries. He founded IQTalent Partners in 2009 and now leads search execution and client relationships for the firm. Prior to establishing IQTalent, Mr. Murdock worked with Yahoo!’s internal executive recruiting team, gaining in-depth experience across the technology recruiting sphere. He began his career working for Heidrick & Struggles and TMP Worldwide.

“Include a salary range,” Mr. Murdock said. “Let’s not waste anyone’s time — including your own. Mentioning a salary range in your initial job description ensures any candidate you move forward with won’t come to an abrupt halt when salary discussions commence.”

2. Lean On Your Current Team

Employees are often excited to help source candidates to join their team. And, who knows who would fit in better with your culture than those already experiencing it? A 2020 survey found 45 percent of employees sourced from employee referrals stay for longer than four years, while only 25 percent of employees sourced through job boards stick around for over two years.

“Keep your team in the know about current and upcoming openings along with the job description you’ve already crafted,” said Mr. Murdock. “Make sure they send talent to your inbox with a name-drop so you know who can vouch for them. Even better — incentivize your referrals. Offer your employees referral bonuses for new hires (after meeting a probationary period) to keep up the motivation to bring in great talent.”

3. Don’t Rule Out Fresh Hires

A candidate who recently started a new job elsewhere may strike you as the most passive candidate out there — likely with no interest in making another jump, but you could be wrong. “The timing of your outreach can sometimes work in your favor,” said Mr. Murdock. “Consider this — their professional life is already up in the air, and their resume and requirements are up to date.”

Related: How the Talent Game is Changing

“There’s a chance their new job might not have panned out exactly how they’d hoped or that the company wasn’t what it presented itself to be. You could help mitigate their new job regret,” he said. Besides, 31percent of employees have reported quitting a job within the first six months. Just because a potential candidate has recently accepted a new position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start a conversation with them and feel out their circumstance.”

4. Perfect Your Outreach

“Sourcing a list of great candidates doesn’t mean much unless they engage with you,” said Mr. Murdock. “You need to perfect your outreach to get the attention of someone who isn’t necessarily seeking new opportunities. Knowing your audience is crucial — that generic message you’ve sent to 20 other candidates won’t cut it. And, knowing the unique values of the industry will help you by leaps and bounds.”

IQTalent Partners Launches Passive Candidate Platform

Executive recruitment firm IQTalent Partners has announced the launch of IQTalent Xchange, an original market concept using advanced artificial intelligence combined with human expertise to create a unique passive candidate marketplace. The proprietary platform includes over 300 million professionals, offering its customers access to the most qualified candidates.

“Unlike job posting boards that rely on active candidates, IQTalent Xchange matches companies with the most qualified passive candidates in the professional workforce,” said the firm. “For many professional and management level positions, the top candidates are often passive candidates. The platform allows users to easily load their job descriptions, candidate specifications, and then, receive a curated list of qualified candidates.”

According to report by Glassdoor, while 78 percent of sales professionals say they would accept less money to work at a company selling something compelling, 66 percent of healthcare professionals are likely to accept less money to work at a company with a great culture. “Leverage what makes the industry unique and lead with this in your outreach,” said Mr. Murdock. “Your goal is to give them just enough information to pique their interest and respond, but you want to be careful about overloading them with too many details.”

5. Master Your Social Ads

Recruiters know social ads are an excellent way to target the right audience. But, Mr. Murdock said there is a guessing game of whether your tactics will be enough to stop top talent in their tracks. Here’s IQTalent Partners’ take on social platforms:


Don’t underestimate Facebook when it comes to sourcing candidates. Compared to LinkedIn and job boards, sourcing candidates on Facebook is often cheaper and faster. And, you’re more likely to find prospects that weren’t necessarily in the thick of their job hunt. Besides the standard targeted ads, IQTalent Partners said you can:

  • See who already follows your company page. They already know what your company is all about!
  • Manually source candidates with creative search queries.
  • Facebook hosts job postings. Create one and share it with your network of followers and ask others to share accordingly.

Related: Companies Planning Big Comeback Post-Pandemic Crisis

  • Broaden your idea of your target candidate by boosting your job posts to a broader audience.
  • Share your job posts on relevant Facebook groups and communities.


Hashtags, images and a clear call to action can create a great deal of Twitter reach. Don’t worry about tweeting about the same opening several times — tweets are short and sweet, and there’s room for a lot of testing to figure out what will work best for your target audience. Once you find a formula that generates some reach, try out a paid promotion to boost it even further.


LinkedIn is still an excellent tool that nearly all recruiters leverage to find active or passive talent. But,  recruiting on LinkedIn needs to be done right, said IQTalent Partners. We’ve all received generic InMail — make yours casual to stand out from the rest. Do your research and let the candidates know why you’re reaching out to them specifically. Show them that you took the time to see where they went to school, what they minored in, a common geographic area you’re both worked in, or something similar. Referencing a former common employer within your InMail outreach can increase your chances of getting a response by 27percent.

6. Lean On A Talent Exchange Marketplace

“While active candidates spend their time on job boards, recruiting passive candidates can be done seamlessly on talent exchange marketplaces,” said Mr. Murdock. “These platforms remove the hurdles of finding passive candidates by giving in-house recruiters access to lists of relevant passive candidates’ background and contact information. All you have to do is reach out and take the next step with your unique outreach strategy,” he said.

Related: Exploring the World of Remote Candidates

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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