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Why's it important to engage with passive candidates?

25 Aug 15:00 by Tony Allen

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Keeping a high level of engagement with candidates should always be a priority for employers, and this statement is all the more true of passive candidates. While the reasons for the significance of doing so very much state themselves, it is now more important than ever for a number of reasons.

At present, it is believed that around 12 million adults lack basic digital skills, while 5.8 million have never used the internet. When you compare this to the fact that 90% of all jobs require digital skills to some extent and the digital sector’s need for 745,000 new workers by the end of the year, it becomes highly apparent that a conscious effort needs to be made to close this gap.

The skills gap, as it is, costs the economy around £63 billion a year in lost income. For this reason and many others, “Digital exclusion has no place in 21st Century Britain,” the Commons Science and Technology Committee states. “The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need.”

The recruitment process therefore becomes of vital importance. Of course, the responsibility of educating young people on the need for digital skills is not one that falls upon our shoulders. “Clients are becoming more aware of the need for digital operations and an online presence, so realise they need to recruit accordingly,” says Gordon Brown, MD of NineTwenty. Optimising candidate engagement will pay dividends when trying to do so.

What’s more, 87% of tech businesses in the UK predict an increase in sales over the next year and thus, 83% of these expect to increase staffing during this period. Candidate engagement, then, is more important than ever. The more demand there is on the market for digitally skilled candidates, the less there will be available to you as an employer.

This candidate-driven market can be counteracted by working closely with desirable candidates, ensuring that they are continually engaged and invested in the process at all stages. This is particularly true of passive candidates, i.e. – not actively looking candidates or candidates who are under no pressure to find new roles – as they will be naturally reluctant to leave their current positions or just hold out for something that really grabs them.

It is important, then, to show passive candidates that the opportunities that you are able to offer them are better than those provided by their current role, despite how happy and comfortable they may already be with their employment. Where possible, a tight interview process will retain interest – being concise and efficient keeps candidates invested in the process.

If this is not possible, as it may not always be, constant communication will help to bridge the gap and quick feedback will encourage more of an investment from the candidate. Playing a more hands-on role with passive candidates in this way is necessary and beneficial for all involved parties – not only will candidates be in the best possible role for them, employers who provide such engagement will be more likely to be able to fulfil their need for skilled (and specifically digitally proficient) staff than those who do not.

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