As every HR team is well aware, today’s labor market is tight. But since the current unemployment rate of 3.8% is not expected to rise much in the next few years, recruiters are going to have to change their strategies in order to hire qualified professionals, especially tech talent, for open roles. Luckily, there are some simple tricks to hiring in these conditions—like focusing on passive candidates.

In the past, businesses often had large pools of active candidates to pick from. These are professionals who are currently searching for new opportunities, applying directly to jobs at regular intervals. They are usually immediately available.

Passive candidates are professionals who are currently employed and not available immediately. These candidates are not actively looking for work and don’t submit applications, though they are often open to new opportunities.

In fact, the LinkedIn Talent Trends 2014 report revealed that while 25% of fully employed global respondents were actively looking for their next role, 45% of fully employed respondents were open to talking with a recruiter and another 15% were talking to their networks. In other words, 60% of respondents were passive candidates who were very open to changing employers.

Read on to discover why you need to update your strategy and focus on the largest untapped resource for recruiters: passive candidates.

Larger Candidate Pool

Sixty-eight percent of HR workers have trouble hiring full-time employees, and they list a “low number of applicants” as the top roadblock they face. In other words, there aren’t as many active candidates as before.

The talent pool may seem like it’s shrinking, but that’s only if your business is targeting active candidates only. Passive candidates make up 70% of the global workforce, while active candidates only make up 30%.

Targeting passive candidates is the best way to expand your candidate pool.

Less Competition

Active candidates are experiencing one of the best job markets this country has seen. Because the pool of active candidates is so low, when they submit applications, they are more likely to receive responses, interviews, and job offers.

This is great for candidates, but not for recruiters. Because there are so few active candidates, businesses are ruthlessly competing to snatch them up for themselves, rushing through the interview process in order to secure their new hires. “Competition from other employers” is listed as one of the top recruiting problems experienced by HR professionals.

Because passive candidates aren’t urgently seeking out new jobs, you’ll experience less competition with other companies. You can take time to establish relationships with your professionals of choice, discovering their strengths and (hopefully) inspiring them to sign on with your company.

High-Quality Talent

One of the best things about passive candidates is that you can assume they are qualified for their positions.

Because they are clearly valued at their jobs, it is clear that they are hard-working and experienced enough to win the appreciation of their employers. If they weren’t being shown appreciation in this job market, they would be active candidates.

While active candidates are often qualified as well, their applications require a little more attention and research before you can be sure they are qualified. With passive candidates, you should still conduct research and a thorough employment review, but it is far more likely that they are dedicated workers.

The Bottom Line

If you’re recruiting active candidates only, your business is missing out on the majority of high-quality talent. By engaging with passive candidates, you’ll gain access to a larger talent pool with less competition—and plenty of high-quality talent.

Ready to start recruiting passive candidates? We’d be happy to help.