Why Your Recruiting Strategy Should Include Passive Candidates

Recruiting the right executives and professionals is one of the most critical tasks for any company. But it can also be one of the most daunting tasks in agriculture. It’s no wonder when the typical in-house recruiting strategy is:

  • Filling the slate of candidates via posting the job opening
  • Sorting, screening, and interviewing applicants
  • Narrowing the pool of viable recruits
  • Offer the position to the most qualified candidate

This recruiting strategy is commonly known as attracting “active” candidates. But why cast such a wide net? Why waste so much time and resources courting several candidates you know you aren’t going to hire?

For us, it makes much more sense to just focus on the one right candidate. We guarantee that they’re out there, and we have a unique recruiting strategy that may be the best path to finding them.

What Is a “Passive” Recruiting Strategy?

As the most trusted and successful recruiting agency for agriculture, one of the most common requests we get from hiring managers is to find the best person we can for their executive or professional opening. Ideally, this would be someone who can demonstrate in a tangible way how they’ll be a successful hire and bring the company growth and increased profitability.

But how can you really tell if they’ll be a success?

One of the best ways to figure this out is to look for the exceptional professionals who are actively demonstrating the skills and qualities you’re looking for—those who are currently:

  1. Getting the job done with a high caliber of execution and proficiency.
  2. Solving problems specific to the role and its landscape in the ag industry.
  3. Not just getting along with others – but proving to be a leader who can influence and inspire coworkers and colleagues.

In short, this is what we call a “passive” recruiting strategy.

With the shortage of quality applicants, organizations need to change their recruiting strategy to stay competitive for applicants in the future.

Investment and the Screening Process

Recruiting professional and executive talent is not cheap. In agriculture, where the overhead can be particularly high, our hiring partners want to know everything they can about their prospective recruit.

If possible, we need to look into the future to gauge whether they’ll be worth the investment. And that’s especially true for hiring managers who might not see a return on their investment until possibly the second year in the role.

While recruiters don’t have a crystal ball, a passive recruiting strategy is almost just as good.

By screening passive candidates, oftentimes, we can get much deeper, more valuable answers to our questions than from an active candidate. One key question passive candidates are often better equipped to answer is their degree of dependability in relation to their future goals.

The priority for an active candidate is often in getting the job. Locking down that new role is front and center, and many things (such as their real plans for the future) can take a back seat to that initial priority.

Because passive candidates are already employed, their perspective of the future and their goals are less likely to be muddied by the urgent need to get hired.

Active Seekers and Red Flags

To be clear, Ag 1 recruits active candidates often, and many active candidates can turn out to be incredible new recruits. But there are some red flags to keep an eye out for in your active recruiting strategy.

Point of Diminishing Returns

Some may have peaked in their current role and are looking for a new role rather than find ways to challenge themself and grow in their current position.

Previous Challenges

There could be situations in their previous role that caused them to either quit or be let go.

Future Incompatibility

After hiring, sometimes an active recruit will discover their future doesn’t align with that of the employer’s.

“Job Switching”

What does their employment history look like? Are they job switching? A history of short-term roles can sometimes indicate they’re one of the nearly 40% of new hires who begin preparing for their next job within weeks of starting a new one.

How to Adjust Your Recruiting Strategy to Include Passive Seekers

By their nature, passive candidates are found. Whether they were approached by a recruiter, a friend, a key industry associate, or someone within your own company, the interest to move forward comes from someone other than themselves. And that’s a bigger differentiator than you might think.

Passive candidates are often engaged in their job and doing their best work because, theoretically, they aren’t distracted from their current role and spend considerable time thinking about other opportunities. Once found, recruiting a passive candidate can be a delicate process that an experienced recruiter best facilitates.

The reason for this is the importance of approaching the passive candidate and inspiring them to take the first step for the right reasons. So, often hiring managers will approach a passive candidate with big and exciting talk about money, benefits, and perks. While all those are important to discuss, the whole conversation feels a bit intrusive to someone reasonably happy with their current job.

Instead, it’s best to start with a simple and honest discussion about their future. What do they want five, 10, or even 20 years down the road? Does their vision of the future align with the role for which you’re hiring?

Selling (But Not Overselling) the EVP

Frank discussions about the candidate’s future are not the only reason it’s so important to work closely with your professional recruiter when courting the passive candidate. In many other cases, candidates may be inspired by an opportunity to improve their career substantially. In fact, there could be several different ways to approach the candidate correctly. Having a recruiter with the keen intuition to know the best approach could make the difference in a successful recruiting partnership.

For starters, a key recruiting strategy will effectively create and sell (but not oversell) the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). It can be difficult to know the right amount of emphasis to put on the EVP.

You’ll want to discuss compensation, but you don’t want to give away too much. Your recruiter will help you focus on the impact, opportunities, and challenges that this position might bring in order to convince them that they’re right for the new job but aren’t made suspicious about your intentions by pressing the candidate too aggressively.

Keep in mind: The passive candidate already has a job. Our job together is to discover why your role is the better position, and from there, the candidate will make up their own mind.

Ag 1 Source Can Help Your Passive Recruiting Strategy

The best recruiters concentrate their time recruiting passive candidates. The challenge is that it takes time and unique intuition to build trusted relationships with these potential candidates and to gauge how they can bring value to your company.

That’s what we do at Ag 1. We’re all about the relationship that must be built to sell a compelling opportunity to the very best candidates.

For more information on how we can recruit the most successful candidates for you, contact Ag 1 Source today.