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Passive Candidates Part 1: Who are passive candidates and why do they matter?

Passive Candidates Part 1: Who are passive candidates and why do they matter?

Say you have an open role and you posted it on all the job boards, and are now waiting for the applications to roll in. Maybe you're a seasoned hiring manager, or maybe this is your first search, and you can’t wait to add that perfect team member. Except as time goes on, the people replying to your job posting aren’t quite the caliber you’d hoped for. The applications roll in, leaving you up to your ears in resumes, and you think; “There has to be someone I’m missing here! Where are all those applicants who are killing it at all those other companies I see?!”

And that’s precisely it, all the great candidates are at those other companies. Without even realizing it, you are looking for passive candidates, an often-overlooked segment of prospects that could make the world of difference to your hiring process. In this two-part blog series, we’re going to dive into what passive candidates are, and why and how you should target them during your next candidate hunt.

 

What’s the difference between active and passive candidates?

You are probably dealing with active candidates already - they are actively on job boards applying to jobs, emailing hiring managers, and firing off their resume to anyone and everyone. They could be either employed, between jobs, or could be looking to make a move from their current company. Factors such as employer stability, gaining new skills, or lack of mobility internally could all lead a candidate to search for a new role. These active candidates make up about 25% of the available workforce, although the fact that they are more vocal than the remaining 75% makes their share seem larger.

As for the remaining 75%, these are the passive candidates. They are prospects who are employed and are not actively searching for a new job. Some might be considering leaving their current roles, but these people likely have not actually taken steps to do so (such as submitting applications or updating their resume for example). These candidates are much quieter on job boards and might be noticed by recruiters just glancing at their candidate pools, but often not reached out to. This group is very worth the time to go pursue.

 

Pros and Cons of Actives vs Passives

There are pros and cons to both types of applicants that are important to consider. Since active candidates are, for lack of a better word, currently active, they are going to be much easier to convert as a potential new employee. It will take you less time and fewer resources to recruit them, since they will be coming to you.

On the flip side, these candidates may not be the qualified superstars you were looking for. Many active candidates just go and apply to many jobs because they are desperate for a new role, or only pay attention to one aspect of the role (salary, location or title) without investigating the full opportunity. These unqualified, mass applications are a waste of your time when they clearly do not have the requirements you need and are just mass applying to jobs.

Passive candidates, on the other hand, are often much more qualified for these roles than the active applicants, partly because you are seeking them out and can see exactly who a good fit for your role would be. They have a proven track record of success at their current company and are likely not interviewing at other companies currently, meaning less competition. With 60% of the workforce not actively looking for a new role, but open to discussing new opportunities, it is likely that whoever you reach out to would be willing to learn more about your role.

However, that is not to say passives are easy to convert, they are certainly more work for recruiters to activate and engage. There is often something keeping the passive candidate at their company, with reasons ranging from salary to benefits to simply being comfortable where they are. The recruiter must take this information into account and use aspects about the new role and company to trump whatever is keeping the candidate at their current company. This increased work leads to more cost to the company through invested time and resources to draw this passive candidate to your role.

 

Why take the plunge?

You might be thinking right now, “More time, more energy, more expensive… so why the hype over passive candidates? Are they really worth my time?” The answer to that is yes!

Passive candidates are absolutely worth the time and resource investment. Active candidates can be great candidates with excellent skills that would make a great addition to your team. The benefit of passive candidates is that you have essentially have the ability to hand pick your team for the skills and experiences you’re looking for. You can get someone who’s already kicking ass at their current company, with the previous experience that would help them excel in your company, and harness that energy to make your own team stronger. It might mean more effort, but the effort you put in now will pay dividends later when you have a stellar new team member to strengthen your business. Don’t shortchange your company by accepting unqualified applicants.

Roll up your sleeves and go find those passive candidates today!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series on how to reach and activate passive candidates.

In the meantime, if you would like the benefits of passive candidates without doing the heavy lifting yourself, check out Happie. We are a tech-enabled recruiting service that combines human expertise with automation to find and engage the perfect candidate for your roles. Sign up for a consultation here!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Jackie Gerow

Jackie is a Digital Marketing Analyst at Happie. When she’s not working, she’s either running, eating, or napping (all three on a good day).

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