Who's the onus on to match your company with the right hires--potential candidates searching for a job, or you? Although you definitely want to do your best to attract active searchers in a cost-effective way that remains on-brand, you don't want to miss out on great candidates that could be hiding in plain sight. Just because people aren't out looking for jobs doesn't mean they're sitting at home dancing with their Nintendo Switch.

Especially in today's economy, where unemployment is relatively low, some great would-be candidates are off-the-radar because they're currently employed.

That's where a good passive job candidate strategy comes in. You've got to look beyond job searchers and take proactive steps to ensure you can attract those whose number-one goal every morning isn't setting out to find a new gig. (And think of it: it's a good thing that these people are focusing on their current jobs and aren't spending their employers' time searching for a new one!) Here are a few ways you can get started on putting an effective strategy into practice right now.

Embrace automation in technology

First, there's no denying that technology can save time and make you more efficient. One way to leverage tech to attract latent candidates is to use it to automate the onerous task of figuring out the best places to post a job, ensuring a large number of top candidates see your roles. Some recruiting tools automate and optimize candidate sourcing (at Workpop, we use artificial intelligence technology to do so), ensuring that you can focus instead on how you're adding value by interacting with potential candidates, especially ones that might be already employed.

Look for viral features in your recruiting software

There are more finely-tuned ways of enlisting the support of smart technology too. Your applicant tracking system, for instance, can provide you with viral features that spread your visibility and appeal to a broader network of talent than active job seekers alone. For example, Workpop lets candidates list previous managers and colleagues as employment references. When these references opt in to being listed, they can then receive subsequent communications about additional job opportunities. Might these passive candidates be interested when your next opportunity comes along? You want to be able to take advantage if they are.

Take advantage of network effects

In keeping with that basic approach, you should also recognize that, although competition among employers increases in one sense when they're all using the same application software, in another sense, helpful sorting effects can result. So much of the right hire is all about fit, which means that other companies' declined candidates could well be perfect for your business, not theirs. With lots of candidates applying to other companies' jobs on the same job boards that you're using, you stand to benefit from an increase in audience for communications about your open jobs. This virtuous "network effect" gives you a good shot at linking up with candidates you otherwise wouldn't. Choose technology that delivers solid network effects for you.

Make applying easy

There are more prosaic factors at work too when it comes to exploiting tech to find passive candidates. The greater the friction in your application process--the more hurdles and bothersome steps to fulfill--the greater the odds that potential candidates will abandon their applications. That's a real problem when it comes to attracting currently employed talent, who lack that special urgency to power through a dull and onerous application process. If you give them an experience that's online, user-friendly, and optimized for mobile, you'll be off to a good start. After all, 61 percent of service organizations are still accepting paper applications, and 50 percent of career-opportunity websites are still not optimized for mobile devices. Yet at the same time, almost two thirds of job seekers bail on their applications--online--because they're just too long or complex. Save those detailed questionnaires for the next step in the process.

Tap into the networks of your existing employees

Finally, note that the human touch best supplements even a super-optimized approach. You want employees to tap into their networks to help source you great hires? Make it easy for them to share your job posts the ways they prefer, or even offer referral bonuses. From bots to competitors to your current hires, you've got more of a support network for digging up attractive candidates than you might realize. Take advantage!

Published on: Apr 4, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.