There is so much hype about passive candidates vs. active candidates. It seems like most recruiters, when pressed, will tell you that passive candidates, i.e. candidates who are not looking for a job but might be interested if the right opportunity came along, are the ‘gold standard’ of recruiting. Active candidates are sometimes overlooked or written off as undesirable, and I’m not sure that’s the smartest approach.
You know what I think? I think too many recruiters think “active candidates” = “unemployed candidates.”
The definition of an “active candidate” is one who is actively, currently, looking for a new role. It’s a big jump to automatically assume that candidate is unemployed. Consider the following examples of active candidates:
- Those who have reached the top of the payscale at their current company
- Those who have no more room for promotion at their current company
- Those who are caught up in a merger / acquisition that is likely to impact their job downstream (change in focus, consolidation, etc.)
- Those who work for bad managers (remember, employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers)
- Those who are interested in relocation for a variety of reasons
In some ways, I believe recruiting active candidates might be the smarter move — for one thing, you don’t have to convince them to leave what is familiar for something unknown. They have already emotionally separated themselves from their current employer and are ready to move on to something new. There is a high(er) likelihood they’ve already talked with their spouses, so the career move is not an out-of-the-blue shock. They’d probably like to remain employed until they find a new role, which means they probably aren’t shouting out their job search from every available rooftop, job board, or social media channel. Nothing undesirable about any of that, is there?
The goal (I think?) is to get the best person in front of your client. If the best person is someone who has already decided a career move is in order, would you NOT present them to your client? Would your client ‘pass’ on an interview? Probably not. Don’t be so quick to label active candidates or passive candidates; instead, focus on the *best* candidates.
What do you think? Has the “active” versus “passive” debate run its course? Why or why not?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net