Recruiting Passive Candidates for International Development Positions

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Statistics show that 75-80% of job seekers are what are classified as “passive”. Meaning they are not actively looking for a job- they are usually too busy working to pay attention to job boards, likely out on a field assignment, wrapping up a proposal or in back to back meetings with donors. So while job postings can help attract more active candidates and keep your organization’s name on their radar, relying solely on job postings is missing out on a big percentage of the market. And often some of the best and brightest talent.

Recruiting in international development is fast paced. Be it for a proposal, to respond to a recent natural disaster or to replace a burned out field worker, international development recruiters often do not have much time to identify, attract and onboard a candidate. Having an arsenal of warm candidates at the ready is a must-have for any successful recruiter. While it takes time to develop and cultivate, it is worth the effort when a hiring manager comes to you desperately seeking a team leader with expertise in water-sanitation who also speaks French and you have just the candidate waiting.

Here are some tips for uncovering, engaging and winning over passive candidates for international development positions.

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Recruiting Passive Candidates for International Development Positions

  1. 1. Recruiting Passive Candidates For international development positions
  2. 2. Statistics show that 75-80% of job seekers are what are classified as “passive”. Meaning they are not actively looking for a job- they are usually too busy working to pay attention to job boards, likely out on a field assignment, wrapping up a proposal or in back to back meetings with donors. So while job postings can help attract more active candidates and keep your organization’s name on their radar, relying solely on job postings is missing out on a big percentage of the market. And o!en some of the best and brightest talent. Here are some tips for uncovering, engaging and winning over passive candidates for international development positions. 
  3. 3. Search for candidates in the Devex People database of 500,000 professionals. A majority of these professionals are passive and not actively searching the job board.
  4. 4. Do not overlook skimpy profiles. Many passive candidates have not taken the time to flesh out all of their skills and experience. Or they join Devex with a “Networking” profile- sometimes to avoid tipping off their employer- which has less content than our job seeker profiles. This doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t be interested in a job or potentially have the skills you seek.
  5. 5. Look at the references of candidates who are too junior or not available. Many profiles on Devex list professional references including full names, titles and contact information. (Available only to those with a Recruitment Account). While a certain candidate might not be right for the role, their previous supervisor may be.
  6. 6. Really understand the role and what the hiring manager is looking for and get to know the candidate’s world. One of the biggest complaints we hear from candidates- especially those that are passive- is that the recruiter doesn’t truly understand their area of expertise. Use sources like Devex News to get immersed in the candidate’s world so you can present yourself as subject matter expert, not just an out of touch recruiter.
  7. 7. Start a dialogue. Don’t just send a job description and ask if they are interested. If they say no, then the conversation o!en ends there. Instead, ask to arrange a phone call to discuss their expertise or their career goals. Recruiting passive candidates is about creating relationships not just trying to fill the positions open today.  
  8. 8. Understand it’s a two way street. Especially with passive candidates, you need to impress them as much as they need to impress you. Share a recent report your company released that falls within their areas of interest. Invite them to events or seminars hosted by your organization. Respond timely to emails and phone calls.
  9. 9. Keep track of your organizations’ history with a candidate. Use tools like DevHire to keep records on past discussions you or your colleagues had with a candidate. Then when you reach out again, you can ask how their kids are doing, how the recent assignment in Mali went or know when a contract is almost up and they may be looking again. Nothing turns off a passive candidate more than when they feel like they have to “re- introduce” themselves to the same organization over and over again.
  10. 10. Using the Favorites feature on Devex, create pipelines of candidates in folders for various sectors and functions. Or use DevHire to add notes and collaborate with colleagues. Engage with your pipeline throughout the year not just when you have a job opening or need to put someone on a proposal. That way when you need to reach out, they will already be a warm lead.
  11. 11. Think long-term with relationships. Today they may be too junior or not a fit with your current project portfolio. But in a few years they may be a top potential recruit. Or you may win a new project and have different expertise needs.
  12. 12. Ask your colleagues to send you resumes or contact information from the best people they know in their networks. Using a service like DevHire, you can store, organize and tag these potential recruits or referral resources that may not be registering on Devex or other external databases.  
  13. 13. You’re changing the world. We can help. More tips and tools on finding the best talent in the international development industry right here.
  14. 14. Illustration Credits Magnifying Glass designed by Jardson Araújo from The Noun Project People designed by Moh Kamaru from The Noun Project Paper Review designed by Callum Egan from The Noun Project Puzzle from The Noun Project Architect designed by Joel Burke from The Noun Project Computer designed by Patrick Morrison from The Noun Project Folder designed by Michael Rowe from The Noun Project Plant designed by Gemma Garner from The Noun Project Plant designed by RD Granados from The Noun Project You’re changing the world. We can help. ! !

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