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In my last article, we discussed four steps to finding great salespeople who come to you—”active” candidates. This time, we look at finding “passive” candidates. If you’re not getting enough of the right candidates, then you must put the right behavior in place to source “passive” candidates. It’s not enough to just place a job ad and sit back. We’ll talk about what else you can do in a future article.

The fact that they are not explicitly seeking your opportunity presents a bit of a challenge; you have to approach them differently than you would an active candidate.

The right way to start sourcing qualified candidates:

1. Set a weekly goal for how many candidates you want to reach out to. Decide how much time you want to devote to these efforts.

2. Determine who will do the reaching out. That person should put this task in their calendar as an appointment for each résumé covered.

Tip: A team can be useful to ensure that this work gets done. If only one person is tasked with it, it tends to become the first thing that gets put on the back burner when that person becomes too busy—and it should never be put on the back burner.

3. Determine the criteria for reaching out. Most job channels such as LinkedIn, Monster, etc., have sourcing options available, often for an add-on charge to membership.

4. Send an email or direct message reaching out to potential candidates. Keep the email short. Explain that you saw their résumé or profile and thought they might be a good fit for your opportunity. Include a link to your company’s website along with your ad and offer a conversation if the individual is interested.

5. Keep the phone conversation to less than 15 minutes. Share with the potential candidate the basics about your company and get some basics about them. “Your LinkedIn profile says this about you; can you tell me a little more?” It’s important not to try to “sell” your company’s sales position in this conversation. Have an initial exploratory conversation to gauge interest on both sides. 

This should be a collaborative process. If the candidate doesn’t have a genuine interest after the conversation, then why move forward? And conversely, if the candidate isn’t a fit for you, out of courtesy you should let them know.

If everyone agrees that it makes sense to move forward, you can refer them to your assessment and invite them in for a face-to-face interview.


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