Passive Candidates make up about 75% of the candidate market. That coupled with today’s market being candidate driven should affect how you search for top sales candidates. In order to hire these candidates, you need a strategy to find and recruit sales professionals who are passively looking at new opportunities. Here are four ways you can find and attract passive top sales candidates:

Consistent Outreach Campaign

Put a plan in place for recruiting and be consistent with your plan and messaging. In order to build a network of talented passive candidates you need to continually build a pipeline of talent. When building your pipeline, you need to start by understanding exactly who your ideal candidate is. For example; what characteristics are important, what experience level is required and please note that location is always important. Now start to develop a plan for outreach and to nurture these candidates. Keep in mind, this plan will likely outlast your current internal recruiting team so the system needs to work for the long term and the next regimen.

Now that you have set your expectations for the long game you will learn that a passive candidate will take anywhere from 12-24 months to move to a new company. These candidates tend to have more to lose when making a career move and are therefore slower in their decision-making. Patience is key when responding and engagement is critical to establish credibility.  Once established you can start to develop a relationship and trust with them. They will develop a willingness to learn more about your company and an opportunity will present itself helping both candidate and company find a great fit.

Once you make a hire, this does not mean you take your foot off the gas. You need to constantly be recruiting top passive sales talent. This is the key to your company’s success!

Find Top Sales Talent at 1/3 The Cost

Company Branding

If you do not have a budget, you need one. You will need to build a company recruitment brand in order to be searchable and more importantly, desirable. A recruitment brand should play off your company values and culture. People want to feel good about the company they work for so make sure you promote

 your company.  Everyone at your company has a great reason to work at it, so what is your companies great differentiator? Build your brand differentiation strategy to help drive people to your site and make sure your career page is easy to find.

Create and publish content. Job descriptions are content, social posts, etc. When you post and advertise, make your brand obvious, don’t make it difficult for top sales talent to understand the job description or what your company does.  Make it easy to read and understand. When job descriptions are confusing they appear to be suspicious. If a passive candidate doesn’t understand what they are looking at they will get turned off immediately and move on. Once you lose them, they will never come back and in order to recruit passive candidates you need to make sure they keep coming back.


This will need to be a mixture of manual and automated trolling in order to succeed at recruiting top passive candidates. LinkedIn is a great resource to get candidates to connect with you and to follow your company. Ensure that your contact information is clear, accurate and easy – you do not want a passive candidate not to apply because they cannot get in touch with you easily.

As you find and connect with candidates, you will drive traffic to you and your company profile, make sure your company page is updated and branded. The goal is to use little effort but have great impact. While you are running your busy day you must have automated and repeatable processes running at all times and working to engage with passive talent. Lure candidates to a new opportunity with creativity and credibility. Trolling may seem to have a negative connotation but you should be genuine and honest. By letting your posts run on a consistent basis you can stay on brand to paint a clear and honest picture of what life would be like at your company. With consistent well branded messaging passive job seekers will like your trolling and engage with your content.

Shared Content

The easiest way to create content is by posting your jobs.  In order to reach your target audience, you will also need to get your company to share industry leading, thought provoking and interesting content. Every person in every division should be sharing your content, including job descriptions. Develop a strategy around messaging and timing. What is happening at the company in that moment and why is it a great time to join? Lastly, I would frame your communications as an opportunity for passive candidates to connect with you – to start developing the relationship.


Here at Treeline, we specialize in sales recruiting – both active and passive candidates. We speak with hundreds of qualified, interested and available candidates every week with the goal of finding our clients a great match for their open sales position. If you are struggling to find top sales talent, take a look at some additional blog posts for best practices or contact one of our Treeline recruiting experts today.

Download our Treeline Snapshots to gain further insight into the salary, metrics and activity of an average Mid-Market Account Executive, Enterprise Account Executive and Sales Development Representatives:

Enterprise Account Executive Snapshot
Sales Recruiters SDR Report
Published On: May 17th, 2019Categories: Sales Recruiting

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