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Active Candidates vs Passive Candidates: Does It Really Matter?

Active Candidates vs Passive Candidates: Does It Really Matter?

There is a wealth of discussion these days around active vs passive candidates; what they are, which are better, and how to attract them. OCG's Pete Dallimore takes a look at what makes someone active or passive, and what the difference is in today's rapidly changing job market.

There’s a lot of talk nowadays around active and passive candidates; what they are, which ones you should be trying to attract, and how you should go about doing it. Although the general idea seems to be that “passive candidates” are the golden geese that your business should be striving to engage, some research offers a few different perspectives on what that actually means. These reports; one from Indeed, and one from LinkedIn and the Adler Group, both examined how professionals go about engaging with job opportunities. Despite looking at a similar topic, both reports came to entirely different conclusions.

Indeed, for example, breaks down the job search process into 7 steps: considering a change, considering your company, considering a position, applying, committing to the process, accepting the offer, and appearing at the new job. They state that just 10% of people hired in the past year were “truly passive”, with the remaining 90% “taking an action” to find a job before being hired. Furthermore, their research shows that 75% of people look at jobs at least monthly, with 91% looking at job opportunities at least a few times a year.

On the other hand, LinkedIn’s research found that just 18% of employed professionals were active candidates – far lower than Indeed’s 90% figure – but that a further 60% were open to discussing opportunities. Just 22% categorised themselves as “super passive” (not open to learning about new career opportunities), while 8% described themselves as “very active” and 10% as “semi-active.” When added together (78%), the gap between the two figures isn’t quite as significant. The key difference between the two is how they define what an “active candidate” really is.

Eventually, both reports wind up at similar conclusions; would someone who is “open to discussing opportunities” be likely to look at jobs “at least a few times a year”? The answer is likely yes. However, the key findings of both reports reflect the perspective that both institutions have on the job market; Indeed as a job board and LinkedIn as the leading social media platform for recruitment. Indeed’s sole use is to connect people with jobs, whereas LinkedIn requires a more subtle approach thanks to the wealth of data available.

The key takeaway from looking at both of these reports is that, although they both produce different results on the surface, neither are wrong. The difference in their findings is down to the different ways in which they draw the line between active and passive candidates. However, in a world where we’re inundated with job board email alerts and LinkedIn notifications all telling us about the perfect jobs waiting for us just a click away, have these definitions become outdated? Does clicking a link, often to a job we may not even be interested in, mean that we are “active” job hunters? Most of us would disagree.

Although the online recruitment space has opened up a wide variety of targeting options, allowing organisations to find the perfect people for their roles, these techniques are still in their infancy. The number of people who are subscribed to job alerts and are still recommended jobs that are entirely irrelevant to their field is evidence of that. Because of how candidates are overloaded with these messages, it’s even harder for jobs to stand out.

Somewhat ironically, in the midst of all the automation and algorithms, the personal touch has even more important. It’s difficult to just rely on job boards or InMails to attract great candidates; the key is being able to provide a compelling proposition through a relatable brand story and a visible human element. If they have someone to talk to about their career with, they’re far more likely to get a grip on what they want out of their career. Here at OCG, we see this every day, as our approach is centred around being a career maker. We work closely with our candidates to find out exactly what they want from their career and help them find it, and it pays off in spades.

Now of course, the technology is going to improve. We’re already seeing signs of this with Google’s new Jobs API, which is set to improve search accuracy for job seekers, as well as bringing in a host of new features to help people find the perfect role for them. As these solutions continue to become commonplace, jobs will be on an increasingly even playing field when it comes to the number (and quality) of people they can reach. However, the challenge lies in actually engaging those people, and where the human element comes to the fore.

Need help giving your recruitment campaigns that personal touch? Feel free to contact us at OCG for advice.

Tags: HR
Pete Dallimore

Pete Dallimore | Sourcing and Marketing Manager

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