Active vs Passive Candidate – Can you Tell the Difference?

Posted on April 2014 By Speller International

​Once upon a time, a person was either job hunting, or they weren’t. If they were job hunting, they were pouring through job advertisements, engaging with recruitment agencies and sending out their CV to anyone and everyone. If they were not job hunting, not only were they not doing any of the above, but they weren’t even thinking about any of the above.

These days, the line between an active and a passive candidate are somewhat blurred. With the introduction of online networking channels such as LinkedIn and the services provided by companies such as Seek where you can select to be emailed certain types of jobs, not only have the dynamics of job hunting changed, but so too has the definition of an active job seeker.

On LinkedIn, 95% of candidates have checked the box that says they would be interested in hearing from employers in terms of opportunities, meaning they are not closing that door completely. And according to LinkedIn Talent Trends 2014, 60% of “passive” candidates are actually open to talking about a new role. Of the more than 18,000 professionals in 26 countries surveyed, Talent Trends discovered that of those professionals identifying themselves as passive candidates, only 15 percent labelled themselves “super passives,” people who are happily employed and unwilling to consider changing jobs, a rate down 25 percent from 2012. This is good news for all you hiring managers!!

LinkedIn and other social media channels provide hiring managers and recruitment agents alike the ability to search for a potential candidate (whether they be active or passive) and approach them directly – there is now a stronger ability to turn a person, who just over coffee yesterday told their friend how much they enjoyed their job, into someone out celebrating their new position.

However its not just as simple as sending an email saying “Hi, you’d be perfect for this position we have!” It is important that companies (or recruiters on your behalf) showcase the total rewards package, work/life balance, and culture of the company, not just provide a generic job link.

A great way to do this is to have strong social media presence, where you can ‘advertise’ your company, and not just a specific role.

Having a strong (and positive) brand will also go a long way towards attracting a passive candidate – and an active one for that matter! How your company is perceived by an employer matters more than ever before! According to a US survey, 75% of professionals would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed (stay tuned for our blog this month on company culture).  A strong brand which attracts top talent can reduce cost per hire by up to 50 percent and turnover by 25 percent.

And finally, a great way to source and secure a passive candidate is through referral from your own employees. Not only are they already sold on the company and the culture, but they are far more likely to influence their friends decision than you, a complete stranger! By making your employee referral program transparent, and available on social media, it’s easier for them to find and refer great candidates to you.

There is great debate on whether an active or a passive candidate is better suited for a position you are trying to fill – some say that a passive candidate is more likely to want to make an impact and more likely to be interested in cultural fit, while active candidates are seeking you out and more likely to be interested and aligned with your company values – but at the end of the day, its skills set, attitude and experience that will predict the future performance of a candidate, not their candidate “status” during the application process.

What percentage of active versus passive candidates does your company hire?