There is no such thing as a ‘passive candidate’

I have to admit I am sick and tired of hearing talk of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ candidates. Even though I admit to freely using the terms myself… until very recently.

But I am going to stop doing that.

People ramble on about ‘passive’ candidates, as if this is a totally fresh breed of human being, that only new-age, especially savvy recruiters know how to connect with. The ‘passive candidate’ has become a mystical ‘super-talent’, somehow superior and different to the bog-standard ‘active’ candidate, who has demeaned him or herself somehow, by actually sinking to the low of actively looking to change jobs.

Well here is a newsflash. There is no such thing as a passive candidate.

In the modern world of sustained talent shortages in niche areas, and evolving job-search behavior, today’s recruiters must think like this…

Everyone is a candidate, all the time.

What I am saying is that the only difference between an ‘active’ and a ‘passive’ job-seeker is a question of timing!

Everyone is ‘active’ if you convert them.

And therein lies the modern recruiting challenge. Yes, to identify and locate the talent with the skills we need. But then it’s up to us to convert them to ‘active’ status. That’s right, you “runner of job-board ads”, you “searcher of the tired old data-base”. It’s your challenge to find them, connect with them, seduce them… and in time, entice them to consider a new role.

So lets not talk about ‘passive’ anymore. It’s meaningless. All candidates are active… some just have to have their new job search ignited!

I feel pretty strongly about this topic, and am acting as MC to the cutting edge evolve2survive conference in Sydney and Melbourne, where global sourcing experts will coach on how to find those active talent who just need a little ‘ignition’.

I imagine I will be learning a great deal there, and so might you


‘Like’ the The Savage Truth Facebook Page, for real time opinion, updates and observations from around the recruiting world


Views: 1804

Comment by bill josephson on May 4, 2012 at 1:47pm

Ian, I respectfully disagree.  Top shelf companies have an array of internal recruiters and can find most anyone not requiring my services at all due to technology.  Reason?  Social network Internet visibility and Google/Boolean searches.


Anyone visible on the Internet, they can find on their own.  Where they need me is if it's a particularly tough assignment involving a relo, purple squirrel job, multiple skills (uncommon) criteria, someone out of a direct competitor, and/or confidential assignment they don't want the person being replaced or their competition to know about.


Bottom line.  They need me to mostly find people invisible on the Internet.  Not on LinkedIn or Facebook.  So when I recruit people over the phone and not only don't they have a current resume but find out they're not on social media, my chances of filling the position exponentially increases.

Comment by Ian Harvey on May 4, 2012 at 2:55pm

Bill, I accept that there could be a very small number of instances where the use of an internal recruiter would threaten confidentiality.  But the basic premise still remains.  Targeted recruitment predates job boards, LinkedIn, Facebook, Boolean searches and the internet.  You don't actually have to be a genius to develop recruiting techniques which use both online and offline solutions.  If internal recruiting functions don't have this capability currently, it is only a matter of time before they do.

I know that there are still a lot of agency recruiters out there, and they are not going to die tomorrow.  But they exist only where their clients lack the commitment to fill the gap themselves.  It is not about you having something they cannot develop internally, it is simply that they don't want to.

Comment by Bill Schultz on May 4, 2012 at 3:12pm

The advantage the internal recruiter has over the 3rd party is the ability to know the inner workings of the company and evangelize opportunity to the candidate.  Sadly, that's often not the case. (I know, Amy)  In my experience, they roll them through the process with little regard for selling the role.  Matter of fact, they often negative sell the position (You're already a Director, why would you want to be a Director here?- as if every company is the same).  

The advantage the 3rd party recruiter has is the ability to form an alliance with the candidate and move the process along, keeping both sides informed of the dynamics of the process.  Plusthe ability to devote more time to a specific project. 

Bill J.- If you don't believe that you offer more than an internal recruiter, you're not going to convince anyone else you can.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 4, 2012 at 4:00pm

lol @Schultz you know I totally agree with you... that's why Zones recruiters are kicking the arses of most others - every single one of us (there are 5) comes from an agency and ran a full desk at one point or another. :)

I still believe that a list of names (from LinkedIn, or anywhere else) does not a recruiter make. You still have to be able to woo the right people to your client regardless whether your internal or TPR. Right again, Schultz - advantages are to be had on both sides.

Comment by bill josephson on May 4, 2012 at 4:16pm

Bill S,


The more internal recruiters have access to candidates through Internet social networking they can contact the same visible people there that I can.  Best companies hire astute internal recruiters who've often been successful 3rd party recruiters.


My point is if internal recruiters can access and present their opportunities directly to candidates as candidates become incrementally more visible through technology going forward what is the future role of the 3rd party recruiter?  The moment internal recruiters have access to all professionals/prospects what do they need us for?

All the "partnering" and "advocating for" mean nothing if companies aren't paying us a fee for people they can readily access on their own, right?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on May 4, 2012 at 5:08pm

I understand what you're saying Bill J but I still think access doesn't come close to matching ability to deliver... now there are certainly internal recruiters who can do that TOO - but as Schultz points out it's not necessarily the norm. Then there are the companies that don't have strong internal recruiters (if any at all). The small to mid-sized company I'd guess - big enough to pay a fee, small enough to need to.

Comment by Bill Schultz on May 4, 2012 at 5:10pm

No, not right, Bill.  You are grossly underestimating the service we give and the cost to replicate it.

Comment by Bill Schultz on May 4, 2012 at 6:07pm

Here's an example:  I just took over a search from an internal for an HR Director (Yes, I'm sleeping with the enemy).  Spoke to a person who seemed right but she said she had applied directly somewhere during my taking over.  So I called the CFO to get clearance on working with her.  He said go ahead, but the recruiter said she's too " big company/"  I said:  Does he know that she twice worked in startups that were acquired by these big companies?  He said "Umm, that's why you have the search now, Bill"


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2022   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service