March 21, 2018 2:28 PM

Passive Candidates - What's The Big Deal?

There’s never been a better time to be a passive candidate than right now. With recruiters, hiring managers, and employers doing their level best to get noticed by passive candidates, a talented and employed professional has unlimited opportunities for new challenges.

But why the big love-in, what is it about employees who are currently working that makes them so attractive to prospective employers?


Why employers love them so much

There’s nothing at all wrong with active candidates, but sourcing is all about casting a wide net and improving our chances of finding the best talent. And unless that net encompasses passive candidates, then you could be missing out.

Surveys suggest that as much as 73% of potential candidates are in fact, passive candidates. They may not be actively seeking work, but they glance at the jobs boards from time to time, and they might even take a call from a recruiter with an interesting job offer. And here’s 5 reasons why potential employers love them so much:


1. They’re happy

Of course, this is a generalization of sorts, but overall, passive candidates are happy in their current roles. If they weren’t, then they’d be looking elsewhere for a challenge. And you know what they say about happiness; it breeds success.

If their state of contentment is directly related to their current role, it bodes well for their future within your company. Play your cards right and not only will their happiness breed success but it may rub off on your current employees too.


2. They’re valuable

Of course they are. The fact that they are in gainful employment and you have gone out of your way to find them says as much. And this is why employers at the moment are so enamoured by passive candidates. In fact, some even prefer to fill roles only with people who are currently working.

Companies and hiring managers understand how important it is to make the right choice when hiring a new employee, and the best way to hedge their bets is to choose one with a proven track record at another company.

Now you may wonder why a candidate who is currently unemployed cannot simply point to their previous experience and it’s a valid point. The problem, however, is that employers sometimes have this rather odd notion that those who are not working right now may have ‘lost’ their skills. It’s ridiculous yes, but some people really think this.

We think a little differently. While we understand the value of such candidates, we think that passive candidate sourcing should complement (not replace) your efforts with active candidates. It’s all about that wider net we mentioned earlier.


3. They’re upfront

A passive candidate has nothing to lose. They’re in a stable job, and more often than not, they’re quite happy with their lot. This encourages a level of honesty that we rarely see from active candidates, and understandably so. After all, no candidate wants to admit their weaknesses to an interviewer.

Now we’re not saying that active candidates lie, but we all know how difficult it can be to assess their soft skills when they have their interview game face on.

For this reason alone, the passive candidate is like a breath of fresh air in a recruitment process seemingly full of self-affirmation and slightly exaggerated claims of workplace prowess. Will a passive candidate overstate their responsibilities on their resume? Probably not, it’s likely out of date anyway.

Generally speaking, the passive candidate is not out to impress you, in fact, it’s often the other way around. If you want to pry them away from their current role, you’ll have to prove to them that it’s worth their while.


4. They’re not looking for a job

Okay, so this one might seem like a redundant point but hear us out.

Passive candidates by definition are those currently in employment who are not seeking a new challenge, right? No news there. But what this actually means for you is that the candidate is not interviewing at other companies and will not feel tempted by another more lucrative offer from a competitor.

How many times have you found a great candidate, nurtured them through the sourcing and interviewing process only for them to reject your offer in favour of a competitor? Maybe, not all that often but it does happen, and funnily enough it’s those uber-talented candidates that it happens with.

An uber-talented candidate with plenty of job offers? Sounds just like your passive candidate if they were currently seeking work. But if you time it right, you could be the only recruiter talking to this potential new hire.


5. They stick around longer

Now it might seem a little contradictory to suggest that a candidate that you managed to pry away from their current role would be the most loyal of employees, but it’s true. In a survey carried out in 2014, the CEB Recruiting Leadership Council found that employers reported that passive candidates were 25% more likely to stay with the company long-term.

And the fact of the matter is that your passive candidate has a track record of not seeking out a new challenge. So in theory, if you keep them happy and fulfilled in their new role, they should be with the company for a few years at the very least. And we don’t need to explain how attractive that is for a busy recruiter. 


As we mentioned earlier, passive candidate sourcing should never replace your efforts to hire from the active pool. However, it’s essential that you include these valuable candidates in your search for talent. At the end of the day, you never know where your next rock star employee may come from. 

So how is your company handling passive candidate sourcing? Are they even a part of your talent pool? Or is the whole process a little too time-consuming? If that’s the case then you know we can help with that, right? We have a team of sourcing consultants that love a new challenge, and if you need help building your candidate pipeline, then they’d love to join your team. So drop us a line today, and we’ll show you how our products can help you take your talent sourcing efforts to the next level.

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