Passive vs. Active Candidates

Passive and active candidates – These are two terms that get thrown around in the world of recruitment quite a bit. And if you look at the obvious meaning of two words, active sounds much better, doesn’t it? Passive employees just sound bad, which might discourage some people from fishing in this pool. However, that’s not really the right decision to make. In this article, we will talk about who the passive and active candidates are and discuss how one can be better than the other. 

Active Candidates

Active candidates are folks that are ‘actively’ pursuing new work opportunities. The word ‘active’ usually means that such candidates are employed. However, this category also includes individuals that are unhappy at their current place of employment and would jump at a new opportunity as soon as it presents itself. 

Active candidates are usually on the market for a very limited time. Such individuals might not be looking for a specific opportunity. Instead, they might just be looking for a chance to start fresh somewhere. This means that these individuals will be giving a ton of interviews simultaneously and probably won’t wait on you for a long time. However, many options don’t necessarily mean that they’ll be picky. Active candidates are looking for a new employment opportunity as quickly as possible, so they will seriously consider any offer. But, the important thing to consider here is that time is of the essence. You need to speed things along, or they will get picked up.

Passive Candidates

Passive candidates are people that are already employed and aren’t in immediate need of a job. These people aren’t completely interested in finding a new job. They might just be applying for the sake of exposure and want to find out what recruiters in the industry are looking for. 

Naturally, you might assume this is the wrong pool of candidates to sift through. But, a case study by LinkedIn revealed that 75% of the total candidates belong to this category. Only 25% of candidates are actively searching for a job opportunity. So, this means that if you’re not hiring from this category, that doesn’t give you that big of a pool to hire from. 

Passive candidates require a different approach from your hiring team. You need to get them interested in the position. Otherwise, they might be a no-show for the interview. You need to show that the arrangement may be mutually beneficial for both parties.

Where Should You Be Hiring?

So, passive candidates vs. active candidates, who should you be hiring? The answer is both. Active candidates are where you’ll get folks who will be genuinely excited about the job opportunity and take it seriously. However, the numbers are too big of a factor here. You can’t leave out 75% of the candidates and hire from that small percentage of 25%. Passive candidates will mostly lead you to people that aren’t probably interested in the job. But, they still need to be approached, especially, with a different process. Your hiring process has to be optimized to cater to both parties to ensure that you’re targeting the entire 100% of potential candidates instead of a small percentage.

Executive recruiters work primarily on the passive side of candidate availability, cultivating relationships with potential talent that isn't “visible” on job boards.

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