How to Recruit the Currently Employed

CareerBuilder reports that, as of 2016, “nearly half (48 percent) of employers can’t seem to find the workers they need to fill their job vacancies,” but “76 percent of full-time, employed workers are either actively looking for a job or open to new opportunities.”

Companies are not able to satisfactorily fill their open positions using only candidates who have submitted applications; they need to tap into the large pool of potential candidates who are currently employed elsewhere.

How do you go about recruiting these candidates – candidates who may or may not be openly looking for a new job, and who don’t want to lose their current job in the meantime?  

Experienced recruiters are experts at working with these more elusive candidates, but if you’d like to keep the recruiting in-house, we’re providing a game plan so your can start expanding your candidate pool today.

  • Catch their attention.


Take the techniques you usually use to market your product to consumers, and think about how you can best market your company to this particular group of potential candidates. What kind of candidates are you hoping to attract? What are these candidates looking for? What would catch their attention enough to make them seek out more information about your company? What about your company is preferable to their current employer?

Answer these questions, and then use the answers to paint a picture. At this point, you don’t have time for a full sales pitch with all the job requirements and offer details. All you’re trying to do is give candidates glimpses into what life could be like if they worked for you.

Maybe it’s as straight-forward as better compensation. Or maybe you can offer a desirable benefits package, a more flexible schedule, work-from-home options, great opportunities for promotion, a positive working environment, or workplace amenities. Whatever the combination of benefits you decide to promote, tailor them to your audience and then place them where your audience is sure to see them.

Social media is a powerful tool in this effort. The currently employed may not yet be at the point of following job boards or regularly perusing LinkedIn opportunites, but they are using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter as a part of everyday life. If you can give them a quick, potent snapshot of company life as they are scrolling down their newsfeed, you have successfully made your pitch to candidates who may not have even realized yet that they are open to a new job opportunity.  Using social media in this way also allows the currently employed to engage in the early phases of courtship with your company without risk to their current jobs.

Current employees who are highly satisfied with their position in your company can also facilitate this initial advertising by spreading the good word within their own circles of influence. This will happen naturally when company culture is strong, but can be accelerated when the referral process is rewarded by employers.

Whatever mode is used, the initial pitch must be appealing enough to get candidates to take the next step.  


  • Provide information.


If candidates decide to look further into your company, they must be able to access more information easily and anonymously.  Candidates who are currently employed elsewhere will be deterred at this point in the recruitment process if they cannot determine from your company website whether or not they would truly be a good fit for your open position.

Maybe you caught a candidate’s attention with the promise of the option for a flexible schedule. He or she clicks on your advertisement, looking for more details on the requirements of the job. If this information is not presented in an appealing and easily accessible manner, candidates will likely assume the position is not a good fit and move on.

Zappos, long lauded as one of the country’s best places to work, took a bit of a hit this year while undergoing some structural changes. Still, their company website and Zappos Insider program are models worthy of consideration. Their website is superb, clearly and attractively displaying core values, company perks, campus life, company structure, and community. An interested candidate could, at any time, learn a great deal about Zappos without risking their current job.

If you have successfully provided enough information to the candidate, he or she may now be willing to talk with you directly.


  • Establish contact.


Let the initial contact be casual. Again, candidates who are already working a job will be scared away by intense, commitment-seeking recruiting efforts. Some company websites provide chat options, where candidates can seek more information online without publicly declaring their job search. Phone calls with recruiters or personalized emails are also options at this point, as long as you are building the relationship and not adding undue pressure. Your position has to seem like a solution to a candidate’s problem; if candidates start to dread your calls or emails, they will have no incentive to change jobs.

Zappos Insider program is a great example of how to establish contact with potential candidates. The Insider program is for “people who might want to work for Zappos someday… now, tomorrow or sometime down the road.”  Continues Zappos, “It’s like a special membership for people who want to stay in touch with us, learn more about our fun, zany culture, know what’s happening at our company, get special insider perspectives and receive team-specific updates from the areas you’re most interested in. There is no better way to stay in-the-know and for us to get to know each other than by becoming an Insider.”


  • Follow up.

People who are currently working other jobs may not be able to take a new position, even a great one, right at this moment. Timing is everything. Following up with candidates is about leaving the door open for future opportunities. This is networking. Candidates who cannot make a move today may be able to months or years down the road. So, without being obnoxious, keep the lines of communication open. Make it easy for candidates to turn to you when their circumstances change and they are able to try something new.

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