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Lure ‘passive’ job candidates with the right first impression

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources

Issue: Recruiting "passive" job candidates requires a different strategy than ones used to attract active job-seekers.

Benefit: Choose the right words in that initial contact to prevent quick rejections and increase your odds of a good hire.

Action: Employ an informative, no-pressure approach in that first call, using these five tips.

HR specialists know how to talk to active job-seekers, but they typically have little experience recruiting "passive" candidates: those who aren't actively looking for a new job.

Don't be alarmed by rejection. At best, only a fraction of the people you contact will be interested in learning more. Top performers frequently get calls from recruiters and they may be happy where they are.

But you can increase your chances that a prospect will at least listen to your initial approach by taking the following five steps:

1. Introduce yourself the right way. Say something like, "I read a little about your work experience (on the Web or through another source). We have some career opportunities that I believe you could find very interesting due to your experience, and I wanted to talk to you to find out if you would be open to learning more."

2. Limit the initial conversation. If you sense an interest, limit the conversation to about 10 minutes. Briefly explain the job. Don't use hard-sell tactics such as, "Wouldn't you want to work for company X?" and "This is the opportunity of a lifetime for you."

3. Ask about the person's experience and professional goals. "You have to be more sensitive to career goals of passive candidates because they don't need your job. Explain why you have a real challenge and opportunity for them to grow. Money will not be enough," says Glenn Gutmacher, President of

4. Whet the person's appetite. Ask if the candidate would like to speak to the hiring manager at another time to learn more. Find out when it's best for the hiring manager to call. Offer reassurances that you will be discreet.

5. Go beyond 'No.' If you encounter a rejection, ask whether the person knows others who might be interested. Say something like, "You have good connections in your industry, so if you'd like, please forward my contact information to others who may be interested."

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