Headhunting: How to Source Passive Candidates

Headhunting Passive Candidate

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Finding a high-quality candidate is a daunting task for most businesses. This is particularly so when trying to fill senior roles such as MD, CEO, or CFO. Recruiting executives through traditional techniques such as publishing a job advert, screening the applications, and interviewing the shortlisted candidates may not yield the intended results.

The HR department should apply smarter recruiting methods to capture the attention of high-caliber candidates. Headhunting is one of the best ways of recruiting executives or top talents.

So then, how can a company attract a passive candidate who hasn’t applied for a position or even shown interest in working for the employer? Here are tips and tricks for sourcing top candidates in your industry.

Passive Candidate Explained

A passive candidate is an individual who is considered for a position they didn’t actively search for. In other words, the candidate didn’t apply or search for the role, but the recruiter is interested in hiring them because of their qualification or experience. The fact that the employer is interested in adding the talent to their team makes them a passive candidate.

Further, passive candidates don’t visit job boards because they’re not interested in finding a new job. Instead, they visit social media not to find a new job but to interact with their friends and family. They also visit the career-related social media platform to update their skills, network within their industry as well as make relevant contacts.

It takes good headhunters to find and recruit a passive candidate because it requires a lot of time, money, and a good strategy.

How to Find Passive Candidates

1.    Contact Them through Social Media

The use of social media has increased in recent years due to increased access to the internet and smartphones. Indeed Individuals use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube to interact with their friends and family, for entertainment, shopping, and much more. Companies use these platforms to create awareness about their brands, products, and services, engage with loyal customers, and market to potential customers. These platforms have billions of users, and brands can use them to source passive candidates.

Companies can stumble upon top talent on social networks. As a result, modern recruiters use professional-oriented platforms to spot and recruit knowledgeable candidates. However, some candidates don’t like aggressive recruiting and might get turned off by this.

2.    Search for Potential Candidates’ Portfolio

The search for a passive candidate online can lead to portfolio sites where recruiters can see the work of the target talents. This is the perfect strategy when sourcing creative professionals such as designers, engineers, or developers.

Searching their online work can help you find individual or team projects and assess them in order to find a potential passive candidate. You can also host competitions on these sites and choose the best candidate in terms of scores, ratings, or reviews.

3.    Employee Referral Programs

Companies should update or review their employee referral program if they want to attract passive job seekers. They can benchmark the program against successful programs on social media pages or competitors’ career websites. Fellow HR professionals in their industry can share tips on how to build an employee referral program that can lead to finding top talent.

Employers may post available job vacancies on their social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter and ask their staff to share with their contacts. This expands their employee referral programs and helps attract the attention of passive candidates.

4.    Blogs

Some organizations use blogs to find passive job seekers. Blogging about topics that interest people in your industry other than your company’s updates or news can help attract passive candidates to your website.

However, it’s important to note that people are not necessarily attracted by information about companies. Instead, they are enticed by high-quality content posted on reputable websites. Therefore, generate top-quality blogs or videos and post them on your website or social networks to drive traffic. Being creative can help you attract and identify passive job seekers.

5.    Find the Candidate in Person

Technology helps people meet online but meeting them in real life is the best. Meeting an individual who is not actively seeking employment can be challenging. Some of the easy ways to meet them in person include:

Find an event in your industry or near you that they might be interested in attending. Joining such an event enables you to find a passive candidate who runs on passion.

The company can host its own event and advertise on the internet. Many active and passive candidates will attend the events. Such an event can help you harvest top talents and add them to your pool of talent.


Headhunting a Passive candidate is worth it, especially when there is a shortage of skills in your industry. Attracting such candidates takes time, effort, and a good strategy.

Good headhunters search for top candidates on social media platforms, evaluate their portfolio online, establish an employee referral program, generate high-quality content to drive them to the company site or social media networks, or find them in person through events.

Picture of Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

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