How to Source Passive IT Candidates and Turn ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’


September, 2023

How to Source Passive IT Candidates and Turn ‘No’ Into ‘Yes’

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When it comes to passive candidate sourcing in IT, persistence and creativity are key. As recruiters, we know that the best talent isn’t always actively on the market. But how do we find these hidden gems and convince them to explore new opportunities? It takes some work, but with the right approach, you can turn even the hardest ‘no’ into an enthusiastic ‘yes.’

In this article, we’ll share some of our tried-and-true strategies for identifying passive IT candidates and starting a conversation. From crafting compelling outreach messages to building genuine connections, we’ll walk you through the art of passive sourcing step by step. While it does require time and effort, the rewards of landing top talent for your clients make it well worth the investment. So grab your phone, fire up your LinkedIn, and let’s get recruiting! With the help of these proven techniques, you’ll be well on your way to turning passive candidates into active applicants.

The Benefits of Passive Sourcing for IT Recruiting

As recruiters, finding top IT talent means tapping into the passive candidate market. Passive candidates aren’t actively looking, so they’re harder to reach, but the benefits of passive sourcing make it worth the effort.

We’ve found passive candidates tend to be higher quality. Since they have jobs, we can evaluate their performance and see a proven track record of success. They also tend to be more selective, only considering new roles that are a good career move.

Passive sourcing also expands our options. By not limiting ourselves to only those actively on the job market, we have access to a much larger pool of candidates. This means we can find even better matches for our clients’ needs.

Another benefit is that passive candidates are often open to new opportunities even if they’re not “looking.” Many employed IT pros will consider an exciting new role with the right company and compensation. Our job is to connect with them and share those opportunities.

With the talent shortage, passive sourcing is a must. By tapping into this valuable candidate pool, we gain access to highly skilled, in-demand candidates that are otherwise unavailable. While it requires an investment of time to reach and engage them, the rewards of securing a great passive hire make it well worth the effort.

Passive sourcing—it’s how we find the talent our clients need and turn “no” into the “yes” that gets an offer accepted. With the right mindset and techniques, you can become a passive sourcing pro and open up a whole new world of candidates.

Strategies to Identify and Engage Passive Candidates

As recruiters, we know that passive candidates - those not actively looking for a new job - are often the most desirable hires. The challenge is getting them to say “yes” to a new opportunity. Here are a few of our tried-and-true strategies for identifying and engaging passive IT candidates:

Research their digital footprint

Scour LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, and social media to gain insights into candidates’ skills, experience, passions, and values. Look for signs they may be open to new roles like an updated LinkedIn profile or posts about career changes. Reach out and start a genuine, personalized conversation about their work and interests. Build rapport and trust before pitching a role.

Tap into your network

Ask colleagues, former candidates, and industry contacts if they know anyone with the skills you need. ###Get personal introductions when possible - a referral from a mutual connection is very compelling. Explain the role, company, and opportunities for growth. Even if they say no now, stay in touch. They may know someone else who's interested or their priorities may change in the future.

Highlight opportunities for impact

Passive candidates are often motivated by the chance to work on cutting-edge projects that align with their values. Focus on the impact they can make through the work, not just job duties or compensation. Share how their contributions would drive key company initiatives and help achieve meaningful goals. For the right mission and team, they may be willing to take on a new challenge.

With the right mindset and techniques, you absolutely can turn “no” into “yes” when sourcing passive IT candidates. Building authentic relationships, understanding their motivations, and showing real opportunities to make a difference are the keys to success. Stay persistent and patient - the perfect hire for your role may be out there, even if they don’t know it yet.

Turning "No" Into "Yes": Tips for Converting Passive Candidates

As recruiters, we know that passive candidates—those not actively job seeking—are often the most desirable hires. But how do we convince them to say “yes” when their default answer is “no”? Here are some tips for converting reluctant passive candidates:

Build Rapport

Take time to get to know the candidate beyond just their skills and experience. Show interest in their work, values, and motivations. People want to work with those they like and trust. Focus on listening, not selling.

Highlight Opportunity

Passive candidates are likely content in their current role, so you need to show them the opportunity they’d be missing out on. Discuss career growth potential, access to new tech stacks, mentorship programs, or other perks that would advance their skills or experience. Appeal to their desire for new challenges and professional progress.

Address Concerns

Anticipate any objections the candidate may have to a new role like compensation, job security, work-life balance, or relocation and be ready to address them proactively. Do your research to determine a salary range that would motivate them to make a move. Reassure them by highlighting the stability and growth of the company.

Stay Persistent

Don’t be easily deterred if you receive an initial “no.” Express your continued interest in their background and skills. Let them know you understand they’re not actively looking, but want to stay in touch in case their situation changes. Your persistence and patience can pay off when the timing is right.

Turning a “no” into a “yes” takes work, but with the right approach you can convert even the most reluctant passive candidates. Focus on relationship building, highlighting the right opportunities, addressing their concerns, and persistent follow-up. With time and the ideal role, that “no” may just become a “yes!”


That's how we do passive sourcing and turn 'noes' into 'yeses' at our recruiting firm. It's an art form that requires patience, persistence and the ability to build real connections. While active candidates are great to have in the pipeline, don't ignore the passive ones. With the right approach, you'll find they often become your best hires. Keep practicing, learn from your mistakes, and don't get discouraged if you face rejection. If you provide value, stay authentic, and show candidates you genuinely care about their careers, you'll win them over in the end. Happy hunting!

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