Bored with Boards

By Veronica Blatt

Our guest blogger is Gregg Whitt with Professional Personnel Associates in Clemson, South Carolina. Gregg is a longtime member of NPAworldwide, currently serving on the board of directors. Professional Personnel Associates provides recruitment services in the technical, engineering, manufacturing, professional, and management fields across the United States. Read his thoughts on engaging passive candidates below.

I have been in the recruiting industry now for over 35 years, and have seen many changes. Job boards have been popular for candidate sourcing for a number of years, but recruiting passive candidates has never gone out of style. Now, just as then, passive candidates in many cases are already contemplating their next career move.

So let us look at the “passive candidate” and give them a gentle nudge. All I heard when I got into recruiting was, “You must have a strong sense of urgency behind the positions you are looking to fill…why? Because if you don’t, your competitor WILL and you can kiss your commissions good-bye.”

Today, more than ever, if you are going to collect on your time investment, sourcing passive candidates must be considered. Passive candidates must first like and trust you as a recruiter. You may be the most knowledgeable recruiter in the industry, but if they do not like and trust you, they will not allow you to represent them. Below are some elements that are critical when working with passive candidates.

Appearance, as well as your written persona …yes, it matters. Have you ever noticed how you judge a person on first sight or for that matter your first read of their information? Well, guess what…the people you come in contact with are also judging you. So, your appearance is important to your ability to get them to like and trust you, as well as your ability to develop rapport. Business attire and your personal written communications (emails, letters, presentations, etc.) must also reflect your knowledge and enthusiasm related to the position for which you are recruiting. Written matter should be proofed and edited for errors and how your message will be received. There is more to being a good recruiter than looks and writing skills, but your appearance and that first impression whether in-person, phone or written, are critical to your success.

Rapport – cannot be stressed enough before you begin your recruiting strategy. Remember the passive candidate will not care how much you know until they are confident that you care about them…and their personal interests and goals. When you get your passive candidate on the phone, remember you are on stage, and your attitude (performance) will greatly depend on how much you have prepared in advance.

Video Interviews – The use of video interviews (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) is becoming a common cost-effective practice with recruiters and employers. It adds to the personal touch of getting to know the candidate and further developing the rapport.

  1. First impression – when you are preparing to make calls, psyche yourself up. The “Rocky Theme Song” is great to help you build your positive energy before picking up the phone. Also, scan passive candidates’ public profiles to identify relatable content that can be injected into your conversation, and they will appreciate your shared interest.
  2. Pick up the phone.
  3. When the passive candidate answers the phone or even if you go to their voicemail…introduce yourself and why you are calling. Tell them during the initial call that you would like to take 5 minutes of their time to share an opportunity, if they agree only to five minutes they may not be currently looking to make a change and/or in a hurry. If they quickly agree to your 5 minute request and ask you questions they may still be in a hurry, but you may have just touched on their current mindset.
  4. Once they show interest, let them know that you will need to schedule time and to assure that they are and will be able to make a well informed decision about how to proceed.
  5. Remember too, birds of a feather flock together. So quickly look for your common denominators and become that bird, and look fast to share your common knowledge or interests.

Independent Recruiter Blog


  1. Laura Schmieder, 12-September-2017:

    Well done Gregg! Great points to consider

  2. Dave Estes, 13-September-2017:

    Excellent job Gregg!!! Keep up the good work!

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