Active & Passive Candidates - What Are They?

There are no such things as active or passive candidates in the recruitment market, there are only good candidates and the rest. OK, I know that at any one time there are people out there who are actively scouring the market for a new job, and many more who are not. But the point is that this is a candidate perspective, not a recruiter one. Where recruiters can go wrong is in looking for sources of new candidates who are not looking for a new role or may be unavailable to their competitors, i.e 'passive candidates', but can still be delivered to them as if they were 'active'. 


I can understand the problem.  I worked for an exec-level job board where much of our early growth came from companies looking to us as a different candidate pool.  They and all their competitors used the same job boards and came up with the same candidates for the same jobs, for which of course they were all in competition. If we were successful for one agency, it was not long before the competition turned up in force.  Good for us, but the same problem for the recruiter.


But looking for active or passive candidates is missing the point.  And it's lazy recruiting practice. Recruiters get paid to find the right candidate. Sometimes it will be possible to find the right candidates from a job posting, as at any one time some, but by no means all of the most eligible candidates will be looking to change jobs. But to be consistently identifying the best available candidates  means getting of your butt and approaching the people your client would want you to be talking to. You cannot expect a 'passive' candidate to come to you. To find the right candidate you need more than one string to your sourcing bow, and with the wealth of information online there has never been an easier time to do this.  Recruiters - get out there and engage!

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Comment by Paul Alfred on June 29, 2011 at 6:35pm
Multi- tasking Sandra you're right that still works and working with your team ... I don't mind being picked on Sandra - You know I love it ... :-)
Comment by Paul Alfred on June 29, 2011 at 6:43pm
Jerry i thought I answered your questions in summary... earlier ... Also @Morgan this is an interesting Blog gives us an idea on what Recruiters deal with and we get a chance to learn about old and new business models ... I think this dialog is great ...
Comment by Jerry Albright on June 29, 2011 at 6:50pm

Paul - I hope you don't feel I'm picking on you.  I am quite open to anyone challenging me on anything I stand for.  If "passive candidates" happens to be your thing - stick with it. 


I try to place them all and try not to get to caught up in my personal story.


Gotta go mow a few acres, pluck some weeds and talk to a guy that really should consider my clients offer..........that replied to an ad on Craiglist


Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 29, 2011 at 6:56pm

@ Pau. I know you do and it always makes me laugh. 

My take on this deal is that whatever works for any of us to keep our clients happy and keeps us motivated to get up tomorrow and do it again cause for whatever reason recruiting is fun, it's challenging, if you are good at it you make money to support your family or your horses or your golf addiction.  Your clients like you or you find new ones that do like you and the way you work.  Whether your candidates are active passive, semi active, asleep at the wheel until you wake them up it really does't matter.  If it matters to your client then make a candidate out of spare parts and keep them happy.

If you don't like your clients find new ones, i just dumped a client who paid me over 100K a year for several years because the little darlings in the trenches were hell bent on competing with me instead of working with me.  Fine Ef em and feed em fishheads and send em down the road.  It took about 30 days to gear up to fill the gap.  I am a whole lot happier and they are calling me to find the purple squirrels.  Sorry, not without a retainer.  I have enough clients who don't care where i find a candidate as long as they fit the team and can do the job.  The execs i work with keep HR out of my way.  I have several clients who are great HR types who know how to use a recruiter.


Some get all excited about what i call a recruited candidate and make me laugh when they ask me why they are looking.  Cause doodle head , i recruited them.  Are they actively looking, hell i don't know, i went after what you wanted, found it in a cottonwood tree 2 miles S. W. of Jackass flats. Now are you interested in what they can do or where i found them or if they are active or passive or constipated?  Yes, tomorrow at 4:00 is a good time for them to come in.  Thanks, let me know what you think after you speak with my person..repeat person i found that appears to fit the job.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 29, 2011 at 6:59pm
Oh my God, it is so nice to see something green.  Even if it is in Indiana.
Comment by Paul Alfred on June 29, 2011 at 7:49pm

Jerry u kill me ... No I don't think you're picking on me Jerry ... Look I think its great to be challenged - to tell you the Truth with the news of US budget deficit concerns coming up ... I think it's great to hear Recruiters especially in the US happy about 2011 projected outcomes - Canada needs a Strong US economy ... So that's great news ...  I think we have exhausted this dialog on Passive and Active candidates.   So Jerry you are a Farmer too ...:)  


Sandra I have a question for you so you call a candidate about a role he tells you " I am not really interested and I am really happy here"  You respond with did I tell you this role starts at $150k.  He says tell me more...No promise of interest if you tell him more - he tells you he is qualified and says to you I would talk with your Client if you could set it up....   Is this candidate an active candidate in your books .... ? There is such a thing as an active "candidate"  ... This is not a trick question ... :) 

Comment by Sandra McCartt on June 30, 2011 at 12:04am

I would say, really that's great that you are happy, tell me what you like about your current job and how long has it been since you checked the market to see what people in positions like yours are getting.

Normally he says , well i was talking to someone the other day or i heard something on CNN the other day about salary ranges and did some checking, what range is your client talking about. (he may be ok where he is but he is on the cusp of actively looking..  In your example two sentences into it i know i have an interested candidate.  I don't use the terms active and passive because passive sounds groggy to me.

or drugged or milk toast or something.  But see i'm a Texas broad, i am looking for interest in the job.  If i get a bunch of wishy washy junk when i call somebody i am off to the next one.  I find that when i cut a recruited candidate off pretty quickly if he sounds bored or gamey he normally can't stand it and calls me back within a week to ten days just out of curiousity.  Then i am in a whole different position cause i caught him on the flip flop. 

But yes in my book your deal is an active candidate all it took was mentioning a number if he really were not interested and really happy he wouldn't give a damn about moving someplace he doesn't know anything about.  Fish may not be actively looking to get caught but they sure will swim right up to the hook if they like the bait.  That's not a trick answer.

Comment by Jerry Albright on June 30, 2011 at 7:47am
The quickest way to trouble is by suggesting your client will make a candidate a huge money offer.  If a guy is at 100K - and you tell him the job pays 150 - you're heading for trouble.....
Comment by Paul Alfred on June 30, 2011 at 9:17am
Jerry I was trying to make a point ... about whether or not that candidate was Active or Passive...  Sandra and I disagree however in my books that candidate is a Passive candidate - she chooses not to use the label which is fine...
Comment by Jerry Albright on June 30, 2011 at 9:29am
OK.  We've beat this thing to death.  Good luck everyone.  I'm out!


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