Passive vs Active Candidates – What is the difference?

Applicants will always be a central part of the recruiting process, but it’s becoming increasingly important to think about the people that aren’t applying as well. Passive candidates are not necessarily better than active candidates, but they make up a whopping 70% of the talent market. If you don’t have some kind of strategy to recruit passives, you’re fishing from a very small pond.

In the recruitment space, we’re constantly hearing about active versus passive candidates and, to complicate things further, passive candidates aren’t always totally passive. The fact of the matter is that you’re really just trying to find the best candidate, who may be unemployed, employed but looking, employed by not looking, or employed and not open to a new opportunity.

You won’t know until you find, and speak with, them.  But the different types of candidates have different motives and levels of interest, so your recruitment strategy must appeal to each group in order for you to effectively find, recruit and hire the best candidates.

Who are Active Candidates?

Most companies focus on recruiting active candidates when assembling their dream tech team. Because active candidates are vigorously looking for jobs and are available immediately, recruiting them seems like the best thing to do. What companies often overlook, however, is a massive opportunity with recruiting passive candidates in a competitive job market.

Active candidates are the type of professionals you usually think of when looking to assemble a team. They are available for work and can start immediately in a new position.

When sharing a job opening on a website or job portal, most applications you’ll get will likely be from active candidates. These applicants may be unemployed or employed but dissatisfied with their job. Since they energetically seek new opportunities, active candidates tend to be very excited and receptive when recruiters contact them.

Who are Passive Candidates?

A passive candidate is employed, but not currently looking for a new opportunity. Including the 15% of professionals who are tiptoes above, this group accounts for 75% of the workforce.

Passive candidates aren’t actively looking for work. They are usually employed and focused on their jobs. However, this doesn’t mean passive candidates are uninterested in other opportunities. They may be open to new jobs or gigs, especially if they are dissatisfied with their current roles.

Unlike active candidates, however, passive candidates don’t apply to new jobs organically. Instead, they typically use social media platforms like LinkedIn to network within their niche or industry, update their resumes, and add new connections. In contrast to active job seekers, passive candidates aren’t as receptive or excited when you reach out to them.

Key Difference between Active vs Passive Candidates

There’s a key difference between active and passive candidates, and it goes beyond just whether they are in the job market. Active candidates come to you and apply for jobs. They may read your job advertising and decide it’s something they want to pursue. If they are the right fit for your position, you have a better chance of hiring the candidate.

Passive candidates are people currently employed. They’re not actively looking for work, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in moving. They may not be available immediately and they don’t usually apply for jobs organically.

Recruiting active and passive candidates takes different strategies as well. When you’re looking for active job seekers, you spread your message far and wide. You’ll receive applications, and then it’s up to you to sift through the resumes to find the ones that fit your needs. With passive candidates, it’s the reverse. You define your needs and then go find matches.

How to hire Passive Candidates?

Passive sourcing is the act of finding and engaging potential candidates who are not actively looking for a new job opportunity. Smart recruiters and hiring managers will be able to research, identify and engage these passive candidates and attract them to open roles within your business. Sourcing passive candidates isn’t just about finding them. It’s also about screening and engaging those candidates in conversations. Here are 6 strategies that recruiters can use to make the most with passive Candidates.

Strategies to hire passive candidates
Strategies to hire passive candidates

1. Identify and strengthen the organization’s employment brand

An employment brand is a way to describe the organization’s reputation as an employer. Passive job seekers are often attracted to organizations with employment brands that align with their own goals and values. Regardless of the brand, once it is identified and established, work to strengthen it so word gets out to passive job seekers that your organization is a good place to work.

2. Assess current and projected staffing needs

To target the right passive job seekers, you must understand your organization’s current and projected staffing needs. Conduct a staffing assessment that can identify current and anticipated gaps in the organization’s workforce, including knowledge and skills. This analysis will help determine which passive job seekers should be targeted and what relationships need to be built for future positions. To target passive job seekers for future positions, it is important to understand anticipated staffing needs. 

3. Source passive job seekers

To identify or source passive job candidates, look where those candidates look and go where they go, both physically and virtually. to source passive job seekers include direct mail marketing, tele recruiting and direct recruiting – contacting potential job candidates personally, create talent communities on social media websites where a network of people can share information, that can help source and develop relationships with passive job seekers. Some recruiters also use Mobile recruiting via smartphones, Employee referral programs and Blogs to source passive job seekers

4. Engage passive job seekers

To keep passive job seekers interested, it is necessary to establish an ongoing relationship with them. Keep in mind that passive job seekers are generally happy with their current job and will not be willing to leap into another job without serious consideration. This makes relationship building a must when trying to engage passive job seekers.

That relationship must be built over time. To start building the relationship, engage them with authentic communication, recruitment marketing materials via e-mail, white papers or other content-rich information in their areas of expertise, to enhance their receptivity to future contact. Work to establish real relationships with passive job seekers and understand that it is a long-term commitment.

5. Make the application process easy and tailored to passive job seekers

The last hurdle in targeting passive job seekers is to convince them to apply for the job. To do so, consider making the application process easy to access. The best performers are often passive job seekers who lack either the interest or the time in going through a cumbersome application process. Online applications that require excessive click-throughs or that are not designed for mobile access may discourage passive job seekers from completing the application.

6. Take Advantage of AI Tools and CRM

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools, like candidate sourcing, screening, and matching, can improve a recruiter’s ability to find the best passive candidates quickly. These tools integrate with platforms to help recruiters find candidates based on specific criteria, quickly delivering the ideal candidates right to the recruiter’s inbox.

Engaging with prospective employees in the right way can help you source the best talent out there. A CRM (customer relationship management) software system helps to track all passive candidate contact information and communications. Using this software will help you avoid duplicating your efforts and ensure that you do not forget any potential leads. It also allows you to understand which passive candidates might be open to new opportunities in the future. Learn more with Hyreo

Summing Up

Sourcing and hiring passive candidates have become a contentious issue in recent years with some hiring professionals being totally for and others completely against the practice. Sourcing passive talent isn’t the solution to fill every vacancy, and hiring managers need to understand when to use this option and when not to. Many roles are quickly and successfully filled with active candidates.

The reality is that we need passive candidates if we’re going to make successful hires, and the idea of finding staff this way is as old as the concept of employment. Before broad-scale advertising opportunities were available companies found staff by word of mouth or referrals as we call it now.

FAQs on Active and Passive Candidates

Who are active and passive candidate in recruitment?

Active candidates come to you and apply for jobs. They may read your job advertising and decide it’s something they want to pursue. If they are the right fit for your position, you have a better chance of hiring the candidate. Passive candidates aren’t actively looking for work. You’ve got to go out and find them.

Who is a passive candidate in recruitment?

Passive job seekers are individuals who are currently employed and not actively looking for a new job, but who may be open to a good career opportunity if one came along.

Why do recruiters prefer passive candidates?

Passive candidates align their own benefits with the position they are looking for. This helps in increasing employee engagement. Therefore, there is a much faster return on investment on your candidate. This also decreases integration time and increases productivity.

How do you attract passive candidates?

1. Build Hype Internally Using Employee Referral Programs
2. Step up Your Social Media Game
3. Use Retargeting Ads to Stay Top-Of-Mind
4. Emphasize Branding, Culture, and Growth Potential
5. Burden-Free Is the Way to Be

Who is an active candidate?

An active candidate is actively looking for work. This does not necessarily mean unemployed, but it can. This group is looking for a new opportunity for a variety of reasons: they’re concerned about their current employer’s stability.

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