Targeting Passive Candidates Who Are Ready to Make a Move

Recruiters face two key challenges when reaching out to in-demand but passive candidates for tech jobs. First, they need to create personalized messaging that is likely to grab—and hold—the attention of these busy professionals. That’s difficult enough. But they also need to deploy their outreach at just the right time if they want to get results. That’s much, much harder to do.

Or is it? Research by Dice suggests that recruiters can increase their chances of breaking through to passive candidates if they know when tech pros:

  • Might be ready to make a move, based on where they are professionally (i.e., the current stage of their career), OR:
  • Might be statistically ready to make a move, based on number of years spent in their current role.

Setting up pipelines to target prospects who are likely at the point (professionally or statistically) where they’re open to new opportunities can be a valuable exercise in sourcing talent. (Dice offers tools to help you identify both types of candidates.) But to move the needle with passive tech candidates, you still need to create personalized messaging that will resonate and ultimately inspire them to take the next step in their career at your company.

With that challenge in mind, here’s some advice for creating outreach for both types of passive candidates described above.

Professionally Ready

Most professionals, no matter where they are along their career path, want the same things from an employer, such as competitive compensation, good benefits, and a positive organizational culture. But how they rank certain offerings in terms of importance may vary as they progress in their career. Keep that in mind as you tailor your messaging for passive candidates who may be professionally ready to transition to a new job at a different company.

For example, a junior to midlevel engineer with about four years of experience is likely looking to take his foundational skills to the next level. Outreach to this type of passive candidate should, therefore, include details about training and professional development opportunities at your firm. Be sure to explain how the company invests in its employees. For example, if the firm provides financial support to tech staff who want to earn in-demand certifications, make that known.

On the other end of a spectrum, a seasoned tech professional with a decade or more of experience might be eyeing positions at the senior or director level. Perhaps she is unable to climb to that next rung of the ladder due to lack of advancement opportunities at her current employer, or the company simply has not invested the resources to help her prepare for a management role. Outreach to a passive candidate who is “looking up” in her career might describe leadership training opportunities or other programs, such as succession planning, designed to build talented tech pros into leaders for the firm.

Keep in mind that the more experienced the candidate, the more that person is probably looking for new ways to apply hard-earned skills and experience. He’s likely eager for interesting work that will keep him feeling satisfied in his career. In fact, in a recent survey by Dice, 83 percent of tech pros cited challenging work as what they value most from an employer—just behind a competitive salary.

So when trying to connect with passive candidates who are deep into their careers, emphasize aspects of your company that would appeal to their desire for meaningful work. For example, you might explain that your firm values creative thinkers and offers diverse assignments designed to help talented people stretch their abilities. You might also say the firm is focused on innovation, and share some examples of how senior tech staff are helping the business to solve problems and develop new offerings.

Statistically Ready

How do you know when a candidate is statistically ready to consider new employment opportunities? Here’s where research from the data science team at Dice comes into play. They analyzed how many years tech engineers typically invest in their first, second, and third jobs, and learned that these pros:

  • Stick with their first job for the longest time: 5.3 years.
  • Remain in their second job for about 4.2 years.
  • Stay in their third job for just under four years (3.8).

Optimizing outreach to statistically ready candidates features some of the same messaging you might use for professionally ready candidates. For instance, a junior to midlevel engineer who has spent 5.3 years in the same role at the same company would probably welcome communication from a potential employer that wants to invest in his career development.

However, instead of sending a message that says, “Based on your experience, I think you’d find the training that our firm provides to our tech teams very useful in advancing your career,” you might say, “I notice you’ve been in your role at ABC Company for more than five years. You must be looking for ways to take your career to the next level. I think our firm might have an answer for you.”

In short, outreach to a statistically ready candidate is a bit like sending a lifeline: “Hey, I think you might be stagnating at your current employer. Join us, and let’s start steering your career forward.” For the professionally ready candidate, the message is more of a firm nudge: “I bet you’re looking for this in your career right now. Good news! We have that—and more. Shall we talk?”

Get More Timing Tips

Want more insight on the best time to connect with passive and active candidates? Download our eBook “Timing Is Everything: 3 Practical Timing Tips for Mastering the ‘When’ of Recruiting Tech Talent”, or view our recent webinar on this topic here.

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