Do_This-Return-to-SenderWhether or not you love or hate the often contentious candidate categorization into “active” vs. “passive” job seekers, the truth of the matter is that employers today are increasingly looking for new ways to find, attract and engage those estimated 75% of the workforce who are currently employed, but open to exploring new opportunities.

Since these often elusive, always in demand passive candidates are, by definition, currently in full time roles, the competition for their limited attention is only getting more heated; conversely, since many employers on the market are using the same tools and subscribing to the same systems and software, the playing field for pipeline building has more or less been leveled.

This means it’s becoming easier and easier for recruiters to identify the names, social profiles and contact information of potential new hires thanks to the proliferation of manifold talent tools and recruiting technologies designed to make sourcing and slating more effective and efficient.

So how can a recruiter stand out from the competition when everyone’s going after the same limited subset of workers? Instead of embracing accepted best practices and standard strategies, try looking for and learning from their mistakes – especially when it comes to creating compelling passive candidate communications through targeted email marketing campaigns.

From Cold Call To Warm Lead.

recruiting-funnelThe real challenge facing organizations trying to convert passive candidates into active applicants is actually standing out from the competition and getting top talent to stop listening to the noise long enough to hear, and respond, to your recruiting call to action.

Given the challenges of talking on the phone to a recruiter at work about other roles or companies and the sensitive nature of most passive candidates’ searches, an overwhelming majority of workers who self-identify as ‘passive’ indicate a strong preference to receive recruiting communication in the form of a direct e-mail that clearly lays out not only the details of a job opportunity, but also, why the recruiter or employer believes their experience and expertise to make them uniquely qualified for the role.

Passive candidates know when a recruiter contacts them they’re ostensibly being considered for a relevant job opportunity, but beyond simply personalizing the message, it’s incumbent on recruiters today to let candidates know exactly why they’re being targeted to begin with.

That said, when trying to craft a message that’s actually going to connect with passive talent, it’s imperative not to be cold and impersonal, but rather, targeted enough to leverage the vast amount of data at the fingertips of modern recruiters and use a candidate’s digital footprint to create a compelling conversation that’s got the potential to attract only the most qualified and valuable candidates available on the talent market today.

Recruiting Passive Candidates: When Personalization Meets Automation.

2015-06-16_10-34-37With today’s recruiting technology extending far past the traditional job boards and legacy applicant tracking and human capital management systems that have dominated the HR technology landscape for so long, it’s easier for companies to make sure they’re able to connect with the right candidate on the right channel at the right time, all the time by searching across platforms, databases and networks at the same time, from the same single, simple, search.

Finding them is only half the battle, though; once you’ve identified a passive candidate worth contacting, it’s critical to make sure you’ve got the messaging required to actually engage and attract them, too. Although e-mail might be one of the longest tenured communication tools in the digital world, and one that’s often seen as decidedly unsexy next to tools like search and social, the fact is e-mail remains the single most effective medium recruiters have for successfully connecting with top passive talent.

Two Mistakes Every Recruiter Should Avoid When E-Mailing Passive Candidates.

IgnoreEmailFromDeathAccording to a recent research report from survey software provider MailChimp, the average open rate for recruiting and staffing emails sits a little above 21.2%, with a click through rate on these recruiting related messages a paltry 2.6 percent.

In other words, only 2 out of every 10 candidates a recruiter tries contacting ever opens a recruitment e-mail in the first place, and only around 1 in 50 will actually take any action outside of their inbox.

These numbers might not look great, but the good news is, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Here are the top two mistakes recruiters should avoid when trying to attract passive candidates via e-mail and craft candidate messages that beat the odds and are not only opened, but powerful enough to convert a passive job seeker into an interested, active applicant – even if they’re not actively looking.

 Mistake #1: Lack of Clarity

 A recent post on the LinkedIn Talent Solutions blog highlighted the need for recruiting related e-mails to be crystal clear about the role, its responsibilities and some sense of next steps in order to get a passive candidate to take any sort of action whatsoever. Don’t simply shoot potential candidates over a list of bullet points or a boilerplate job description listing the skill set your ideal candidate needs to succeed in the role.

This uninspired, uninteresting and impersonal approach is unlikely to inspire anyone who’s actually employed to change jobs – although these kinds of poorly written and uncompelling job advertising historically has been very successful in generating a deluge of “active applicants” – the kind recruiting organizations rarely really want, anyway.

If you’re targeting passive talent, it’s much more practical and useful to explain the daily tasks, departmental structure and organizational mission, vision or values so that the candidate can get a realistic picture of what your company is all about, and the way that the position supports or drives bigger business or bottom line initiatives.

Be realistic about the job at hand, but make it clear that it’s important not only because it’s open, but because it’s imperative to the success of your organization today while creating career and development opportunities for the candidate in the future.

Remember, it’s much easier to attract candidates to a career destination than it is to simply fill just another job. Be personal, but just as importantly, be aspirational, too.

Mistake #2: Going Through the Motions.

If you’ve ever received a generic recruiting e-mail or automated, templated message about an “opportunity” that sounds like anything but, you already know that not personalizing and tailoring your message for your target audience is a sure fire way to guarantee you’ll immediately lose the interest of any candidate with even the slightest inclination that they might be considering making a career change.

As many articles and industry reports have suggested, simply blasting candidates with a one-size-fits-all send simply doesn’t work – and rather than attract top talent, might actually repel them from considering opportunities at your company. If the goal of connecting with a passive candidate through e-mail is to open the door to more meaningful engagement and deeper conversations, it’s important to appeal to each individual on a highly personalized level.

This requires recruiters to have a complete view into their professional and personal profiles, as well as the insight into any associated interests, pastimes and passions indicated by a comprehensive view of a candidate’s aggregated social and digital identity.

Social media might not be a great tool for generating more active applicants, statistically speaking, but when it comes to giving recruiters a complete picture and enough talking points to open the door to a one on one interaction, these networks represent one of the most powerful tools recruiters have for researching with and connecting with top talent today.

Ultimately, if you’re targeting passive candidates, you should know that the odds might be pretty good that they’re keeping an eye open for other opportunities, but are unlikely to be so dissatisfied with their current positions that they’ll jump at every opportunity that ends up in their inbox or tolerate the intolerable state of candidate experience so many employers subject job seekers to as part and parcel of their current hiring process.

The reason that they’re ‘passive’ in the first place is because, largely, these highly valuable candidates are more or less content staying put in their current roles, and are only open to the most compelling and interesting opportunities out there – which puts the onus on recruiters to take the time to craft a targeted, thoughtful and personalized e-mail pitch to at least have the chance to convince them to at least entertain a conversation.

Recruiters today have many challenges, but while you might be dealing with 99 problems, avoid these top mistakes to make sure that your  passive candidate pitch ain’t one. Check it.

unnamed (13)Robert Carroll currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Gild, where he is responsible for crafting and executing Gild’s marketing strategy including brand, sales enablement, press and analyst relations, events and demand generation programs.

Robert has more than 20 years of strategic marketing experience at both startups and Fortune 500 companies in the software, media, cloud infrastructure and SaaS industries. In addition to holding executive positions at GoGrid, Clickability, AOL, Ziff-Davis (ZDNet), Ofoto (now Kodak) and Wind River, Robert was a founding team member of GNN, the world’s first commercial website.

He is also a guest lecturer at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley and a former multi-year board member of the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) Marketing Executive Council.

Follow Rob on Twitter @RobCarroll or connect with him on LinkedIn.