How to effectively source and engage passive candidates

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4 mins, 10 secs read time

Getting ahead in today’s competitive talent market requires a sourcing strategy that’s personalized and scalable so you can find and hire great talent. That’s why it’s important for talent leaders to create effective and engaging email outreach campaigns when sourcing for passive candidates.

In our webinar, Sourcing the smart way: Engaging outreach, you’ll learn from sourcing experts at Amperity, Two Chairs and Greenhouse about how to design effective and scalable sourcing campaigns to attract and keep talent engaged.

What to consider when sourcing passive candidates

When sourcing passive candidates, Greenhouse’s Manager of Customer Success Jake Price explained that, “You should really be thinking in terms of who and how – who you’re targeting and how you’re getting your information.”

Jake highlighted the importance of identifying your ideal candidate persona and “paying attention to what’s going to make the role attractive to them.” Think about questions such as: How important is remote work to this segment? Is the salary expectation at the level your audience is looking to make? Are you offering benefits that the market isn’t offering that would be attractive to them?

Some factors to consider when evaluating your data sources include the accuracy of all contact information, ease of obtaining contact information and the outcomes from that data source compared to other sources.

Jake added that, “bad data is cheap and good data is expensive because there’s a lot of work that goes into maintaining good data.” This is why a database like Linkedin is a great starting point since users regularly update their information, ensuring it was actually entered by them.

How to engage passive candidates with effective email content

When designing effective email content to engage passive candidates, these are the key content pillars – subject lines, templates and personalization.

Subject lines
Making a good first impression with your email subject line is crucial when reaching out to passive candidates. Since both mobile and desktop have limited space, it’s important to keep your subject line succinct while making it clear why you’re reaching out to them. We recommend keeping it between 30 and 50 characters so the recipient sees your entire subject line.

Jake also shared that testing different options in your email outreach will help you find what works best since a subject line that performs well in one campaign may not necessarily perform as well in another. Tools like Greenhouse Sourcing Automation and Interseller can help you evaluate the performance and success of your subject lines by looking at the open rates of your email campaigns. A good baseline for open rates is 50% or higher.


To ensure your outreach is both efficient and impactful, you’ll need to spend time crafting email templates that can be adapted for different outreach campaigns. This is why creating a template library is fundamental – you’ll have building blocks with key phrases to update and refresh right at your fingertips when creating multiple outreach campaigns.

Templates can help save you time as you’re not writing emails from scratch and also allow you to implement repeatable processes so you can focus on sourcing great talent.


While templates can help you save time and create repeatable processes, personalizing your messages will show passive candidates the research you’ve done on them and that you crafted your emails with them in mind.

You can add personalization elements such as greeting them by their preferred name, highlighting a shared interest or commonality or acknowledging their professional achievements. Taking the time to thoughtfully craft personalized messages that resonate with prospects will yield better results for your email campaign.

Key takeaways

During the panel discussion, our panelists shared key takeaways on how to balance engagement and efficiency in your outreach.

Two Chair’s Director of Clinical Recruiting John Jeff has seen success collaborating with other teams to create candidate personas and similar messages for those personas. He added that crafting messages that are similar allows you to customize each one so it feels more personal to prospective candidates.

Amperity’s VP of Talent Acquisition Sean Celli highlighted that “people want to feel like they're the only one in the room so you have this balance of one to one versus one to many.” To do this, Sean shared some key questions to consider when creating your outreach messages – What message would you open? What message would capture your attention? What message would resonate with you?

Greenhouse’s Talent Sourcing Manager Sean O’Connor shared how personalization can be scalable since “you can come up with verbiage that reaches a wide audience, but makes it sound like you're reaching out to one person specifically.” He highlighted how LinkedIn and Sourcing Automation have tokens that can pull the candidate's name and current company, which is a quick win for personalization.

Now that you know how to effectively source and engage passive candidates, you can start implementing these techniques to build and scale your email outreach campaigns.

Want even more insights and tips to improve your sourcing strategy? You can access the on-demanding recording here.

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