Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire
Are You Limiting Your Talent Acquisition By Ignoring These Candidates

Are You Limiting Your Talent Acquisition By Ignoring These Candidates?

The talent shortage is real. The 2017 Staffing and Recruiting Opportunity report from Bullhorn found that for 61 percent of organizations, trouble finding employees is their biggest barrier to growth. But maybe the issue isn’t with talent; it’s who were directing our talent acquisition efforts towards.

There are definitely certain types of candidates who might be trickier to reach. But just because traditional methods haven’t worked, doesn’t mean it’s impossible to tap those talent pools. In fact, they might even produce better employees, making them worth the effort.

Here are six tough talent pools to reach and how your talent acquisition strategy can get to them:

1. Passive candidates

Meet Patty Passive. She has a decent job at a large company. She comes in each morning, talks politely with her co-workers, and goes about her day. Her work isn’t particularly challenging or exciting, but she’s fantastic at it. For Patty, the paycheck and benefits she receives make the dull job tolerable. But just barely.

For you, Patty Passive is the holy grail of hard to recruit talent. According to a 2016 Future Workplace survey, 80 percent of HR professionals say passive candidates make better employees.

Candidates like her are skilled and experience. Unfortunately, they don’t technically need a new job. It’s up to you to convince them they’d be better off with your organization. It might take a little bit of extra effort, but it’s worth it.

The trick is connecting with passive candidates in a way that isn’t intrusive. They’re not regularly on job boards, so there isn’t much of a chance of them coming across your postings. And since they might be nervous opening emails about a new job at their current one, your recruiting emails are likely to go unopened.

The best way to catch a passive candidate’s attention is through their network of friends and family. Many people first hear about a new job opportunity from someone they know, not a job board. In fact, a 2016 LinkedIn survey found that 21 percent of people who changed job found out about the opening from someone they knew. Only 14 percent did so through a job board.

The best people to pass along that type of information is current employees who love the organization. Keep a running list of candidates you’ve placed with your clients. Then when new jobs open up let them know so they can spread the word to all the Passive Pattys they know.


Encourage employee ambassadorship by having clients profile their employees on social media. Employees will share it with their friends, which will peak passive talent’s interest in the company. Then you can monitor who engages with these types of posts and reach out to them about a job they’d be perfect for.

2. Gen Zers

Meet Gemma Zee. She’s about to enter the job search in a few years and has high hopes for her future career. Growing up with technology, seeing a company website that’s outdated negatively affects her opinion of how creative and innovative that organization is. And if the only contact information that’s available on the site is a phone number, she would even think about reaching out to them.

Just when you think you finally understand millennials, here comes Generation Z. As a new crop of candidates, the offer a lot of talent acquisition opportunities. However, since they’re still new to the workforce, everyone’s still unsure how to approach them as a talent pool.

What types of benefits are they looking for? What type of company cultures appeal to them? Is meaningful work or compensation more important to them?

If you want to connect with this new young talent pool, it’s important to focus on what we do know about them. To start with, they’re technology natives. A 2017 Bridgeworks survey found that 71 percent of Gen Zers describe themselves as tech savvy.

As a result, they are less comfortable with older forms of communication. The Bridgeworks survey revealed that 74 percent of Gen Zers think their generation struggles with in-person communication. Twelve percent said the same thing about phone calls.

However, only 2 percent said they had a hard time with modern communication like video, making it the easiest way to bridge the gap with Generation Z. By using video interviews, you can get your talent acquisition strategy ready for these candidates. It shows the company uses current technology and provides the applicants with a way to interact they’re familiar with.


Start using video interviews as part of the hiring process for your internship. That allows tech savvy Gen Zers to feel comfortable while applying. Then after their internship they can transition to being a great full-time employee.

3. Talent in another field

Meet Trey Transition. He currently works in publishing, but employment in that field has been declining recently. While he loves his career because of the communication and organizational skills it’s help him developed, he’s worried about his professional future. But since he’s been in publishing his whole life, he doesn’t know what other options are available to him.

A 2015 Burning Glass survey found that there’s more similarity than we realize in the desirable skills across different industries. Looking at 15 different fields, the report discovered that communication, organizational, and writing skills were on employer’s list of top three skills they were looking for in almost every industry.

That shows that what many staffing professionals already know: it doesn’t matter where a candidate learned certain skills as long as they have them. Unfortunately, talent doesn’t always understand that making it unlikely that they’d consider working in a position that’s different from their current one.

Find ways to show candidates that they can successfully translate their skills and bring value to a new field. Break down your job descriptions to the most basic terms. Also avoid any industry jargon that might confuse or scare away talent unfamiliar with the industry.


Be clear about which job requirements you’re flexible on so candidates can see how well they meet your needs. Sure they might not have 10 years experience in the industry. But if the most important part of the job is being a good communicator and they’ve got that down, they’ll still apply.

4. Boomerang employees

Re-meet Bob Boomerang. He worked for your company a few years ago. He was a great employee and although he left for a new opportunity, it was on good terms. Occasionally an update from him pops up on your LinkedIn page and you get the feeling he’s not too happy at his new company. If only he’d consider coming back…

Believe it or not, boomerang employees, or ones that leave a company, but then eventually return to work there again, are gaining in popularity. A 2015 survey from The Workplace Institute found that 76 percent of HR professionals are more likely to hire back old employees than in the past.

What’s great about boomerang employees is you can be confident in both their work ability and how well they fit in with the company culture. As long as there were no hard feelings when they left the organization, there’s no reason that can’t make a smooth transition back.

What’s difficult about reaching out to these employees is convincing them this isn’t a step backwards in their career. Simply offering them the same old position won’t work. Instead, consider them for new roles that have recently opened up. Think about what roles will allow them to grow or allow them to use new skills they’ve learned.


Perform exit surveys when employees leave. That will let you keep track of who might be willing to come back. It will also allow you to point out any positive changes that have occurred since they left. For instance, if the reason they left was they wanted more from your benefits package and you’ve since improved it, be sure to tell them that.

5. Telecommuters

Meet Tammy Telecommuter. She’s been working from home for the past few years and loves how it improves her work/life balance. There’s flexibility in her schedule so she can adjust her workday depending on her family responsibilities. Not seeing or talking to her coworkers for days at a time, however, does get lonely.

Many people assume working from home is for everyone. Who wouldn’t want the option to sit in their pajamas and work from their bed? But the truth is, that it’s common for telecommuters to feel isolated.

Steelcase examined what they called presence disparity in their 2015 research. The phenomenon occurs when situations like the following occur:

  • Being a telecommuter on brainstorming call and having everyone talk about visuals they can’t see.
  • Being on a conference all when everyone else is in the same room. As the others try to talk over each other, the telecommuter can’t tell who’s saying what and it all sounds like gibberish..
  • Being a telecommuter and having an intense feeling that the “real” meeting started after your part of the call ended.

Over time, these things cause remote workers to feel presence disparity, or a sort of loneliness at work. It makes these employees feel like they aren’t really a part of the team. And for many people that makes working from home not all that it’s cracked up to be.

At the same time, staffing professional believe that people who are currently telecommuting could never be convinced to come back to a traditional office, limiting their talent acquisition options.

If your organization can still offer great work/life balance to employees, highlight that in your job advertisement. It might not be what they’re used to, but it shows telecommuters that they won’t be sacrificing something that’s important to them.


Feature current employees in company culture videos and other recruiting material. Include information that give more insight than each employee’s job. Allow them to show their personality. That will show this type of talent the sense of community you can offer to them.

6. Older students

Meet Max Masters. He’s in his early thirties and has recently decided to go back to school for more education. He knows that getting a master’s degree will help in the long run with his career, but right now money is tight and he’s strapped for time.

It’s not uncommon now for professionals to return to get their master’s or doctorate later on in life. In fact, 2015 research from the National Center for Educational Statistics estimates that by 2025, almost 10 million people over the age of 25 will be enrolled in post-secondary education.

But that does mean they’re off limits as possible employees. It might not be easy to convince a student to apply for a part- or full-time job while they study, but if you make it worth their while, the can become great employees. After all, these are people improving their professional knowledge and skills, which can be valuable for the organization.

Show them you would support their educational endeavors by creating programs that help them learn. Approach local colleges with high graduate-level populations and seeing if an agreement can be made where student who work for your organization receive credit in return.


Offer benefits, like student loan forgiveness, to help out these types of candidates. It will show them that you understand they’re working hard and want to reward them for it.

What are some other ways to target your talent acquisition strategies towards candidates who are tricky to reach? Share in the comments below!

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.