Candidate Attraction

From arrows to seeds: the shift in recruiting passive candidates

Recruiting Talent
Internal Mobility

Are you an HR professional at risk of becoming a hunter, when you should actually be a farmer?

In a world of instant gratification, all of us, in every walk of life, are making increasingly reactive decisions about how we feel and what we want to do at that exact moment in time. Social media and advertising is geared to produce this effect in us as a society, and it shows. 

But we’ve seen the pitfalls of instant gratification show up somewhere surprising… HR offices. 

In our dealings with HR teams, we’ve been told (and seen first-hand) that candidate attraction is at risk of becoming an increasingly reactive practice and the vast majority of the focus is on recruiting active candidates who are interested in moving positions now.


In short, HR teams are becoming hunters.

Hunting is reactive. It’s the adrenaline rush, the chase, the immediate result. In recruitment, it’s the scramble to fill a position, the urgency to find someone to fit the role now. But hunting, with its inherent unpredictability, often misses the mark.

What if long-term success in candidate attraction isn’t about hunting at all? What if it’s actually about farming?

Farming is deliberate, patient, and yields results over time. It’s about understanding the soil, planting the right seeds, and nurturing them. In the world of recruitment, this translates to engaging with potential talent (even if they’re not looking right now), and cultivating relationships with passive candidates.

Passive candidates aren’t necessarily on job boards or sending out CVs, but they’re out there, growing in their roles, gaining experience, and watching the industry. They’re the ones who, when nurtured correctly, can become your strongest assets.


So, why aren’t more of us farming?

Perhaps it’s because farming requires a shift in mindset. It’s not about the immediate win but the long-term gain. It’s about seeing potential before it’s fully formed, investing in relationships without a guaranteed outcome, and understanding that the best results often take time.

In the age of digital immediacy, farming might seem counterintuitive. But consider this: while everyone else is hunting, competing for the same pool of active candidates, farming allows you to tap into a vast, often overlooked reservoir of talent. It’s an ocean of opportunity, waiting for those willing to shift their perspective.


So, start to ask yourself: am I constantly reaching for my bow and arrow, or my seeds?

The future of recruitment isn’t about who can shoot the straightest but who can cultivate the richest garden. And in this garden, every seed has the potential to grow into a cornerstone of your organisation.

Written by Ben Gross