Executive Education

How To Attract Passive (But Highly Qualified) Candidates To Your Team


When it comes to ensuring success in corporate settings, one of the main principles to recognize is that nothing is personal about certain decisions – it’s just business.

So, if you’re targeting passive but highly qualified candidates to join your high-performing team in the company, you don’t have to feel too bad about it (especially if they’re not being used to their maximum capacity where they currently are).

If such candidates are actually interested in joining a different team, that’s an indication of dissatisfaction and the desire to become more than what they currently are. In deciding to make an offer, you may just be the opportunity they’ve long been waiting for to get a move on in their professional lives.

A realistic view

This corporate talent acquisition strategy may not always be perceived with great positivity. Many tend to think of it as a sneaky way to get ahead. They have described it as securing a good catch by fishing in someone else’s bucket of catch.

The reality is that people are not really like fish in this context. People have the ability to make a decision based on facts. This basically means that no matter how nice the offer to them may be, they can weigh the pros and cons of it. They have the option to turn it down if they don’t feel right about it.

A passive candidate’s ability to make a decision is actually what you should pay close attention to if you’re looking to get them on your team. You may like and need them, but that doesn’t automatically guarantee that they would want to work with you. So a little strategy is required.

How do you attract such people to your team in order to boost your performance?

1. Find out what their passion is and express how similar it is to your team’s.

Most of the time, this is all that passive employees are looking for: an expression of interest in what gets their motor running. If you show genuine interest in their passion, and you are able to align their goals with your team’s own objectives, you automatically boost the appeal of your team. People always enjoy having positive similarities with others.

To make this tactic even more effective, inquire about how the candidate’s’ current team is operating. If flaws or issues are mentioned, you can share how your own team deals with such concerns. No need to say anything about the other party – just focus on highlighting the good aspects of your team and establishing how similar your values and goals are with the candidate’s.

2. Show them that you value their opinion.

Long before you make an offer, make sure that these individuals already understand that you think highly of their opinions. Engage them. Consult certain issues with them and perhaps ask for their recommendations. Express your gratitude to them.

When you’re ready to make an offer, they will already know that you value them. It won’t be difficult to encourage them to join you, especially if they feel undervalued where they presently are.

3. Make sure that the current members of your team are happy.

The staff you already have in your team can serve as your best marketing tactic. If they are happy members, others will surely notice. Those who are looking for better work dynamics, which your team obviously has, will likely want to become a part of that.

4. Be a good team leader.

The way you are perceived by others will help determine if they want to work with you or not. Evaluate your leadership, communication and people skills. Do you think you’re likable enough for others to actually want to be on your team? Or do you have the tendency to micromanage your team members? If you find yourself missing the mark, work on yourself.

Making improvements on your work as a team leader and becoming more likable to your team can do wonders for your goal of attracting talents for your team.

5. Establish a non-toxic team culture.

If you want the passive but highly qualified candidates directing their attention toward your team, it’s imperative to have a non-toxic team culture. This will promote a helpful and encouraging work environment.

Exchanges among team members must be rooted in respect, even if there are differences in opinions. Establish a zero tolerance for rude behavior, bullying, and any activities that demean a fellow.

6. Entice with rewards.

Team rewards don’t have to be pricey. Most of the time, things like cake rewards for a job well done, or a victory dinner for a successful project, would suffice. Rewards are a great way to show gratitude for valuable contributions, and people in the workplace long for gratitude to be directed their way.

However, gratitude isn’t just to make people feel good about themselves. As Alex Korb, Ph.D. points out, “Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle.” This is proof that it can contribute so much to how a person behaves. Therefore, demonstrating it through rewards is always a fruitful effort.

In terms of attracting new talents to your team, rewards can work specifically for those who constantly need to be motivated and are looking for an arrangement wherein motivation comes in various forms.

7. Present a promise of growth.

Nobody in the corporate world wants to remain as they are forever. Everybody’s constantly looking for opportunities to improve themselves to stay relevant and competitive. If you can present your team as the perfect opportunity for growth, attracting passive candidates won’t be a problem.

8. Announce that you’re looking for new teammates.

There’s nothing wrong with being open about the search for new members to help sustain the success your team is experiencing. It’s no longer your problem if other team leaders in your company take offense because if they’re leading their team well, they’re not likely to lose any members.

If passive employees take interest, your announcement was probably the jolt they needed to snap out of their stupor.

Employees want to find value in what they do. If you can deliver that value to them through your team, you will awaken their potential, and all of you can secure a good future in the company.

Payal Bhatia
Payal is an international headhunter and business partner for RM & Associates in the MENA region. Robbert Murray & Associates is a leading boutique executive search agency in Dubai, UAE.