Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Value of the Passive Candidate

by Jack Young
You’ve set up your website, posted job openings on expensive subscription Internet job boards, and then you wait for the right candidate to respond. Meanwhile, you are being inundated with, and let’s not forget paying for, resumes of candidates whose work histories don’t resemble the ideal person you had in mind. The trouble is, the most persistent responders to job ads and Internet postings are “active candidates” – often these candidates are either unemployed or disgruntled job seekers who are desperate for ANY job with ANY company.
Most recruiters are not even aware that there is another pool of candidates to pull from. They are so intent on pushing paper that they never even realize there might be better way to consistently find and place highly qualified candidates. The fact is that the largest talent pool available is a group commonly known as “passive candidates”. Passive candidates are defined as candidates that are currently employed and not actively seeking new job opportunities. These are the “hidden” gems whose names will not be found on online databases or resume banks at Internet job sites. They are the qualified candidates that you want to speak with. Why? Because passive candidates, are often, the most successful in their chosen fields. Just because these talented people may not be ACTIVELY looking for a job does not mean they are not PASSIVELY interested in hearing about your opportunity. The truly exceptional employee is most often too busy performing an outstanding job for his/her employer, not actively looking for another job.
Unfortunately, the best candidates are called passive for a reason. They are content in their jobs and not looking, otherwise they’d be knocking at your door. The problem is that most staffing professionals lack the time and knowledge necessary to mine the gems found in the passive candidate market. However, once found the passive candidate can be motivated by a larger goal, whether that goal be an increased professional challenge, a higher compensation package, a shorter commute or a more conducive lifestyle. This is the hook that will land them at your client.
When effectively approached, the passive candidate will admit that while he is not “actively looking”, he is keeping his ears open to enticing opportunities. Many passive candidates understand that they have nothing to lose by investing a few minutes to listen. The most savvy of these passive job seekers know that, at the very least, they may have the opportunity to make a solid contact for future professional networking purposes. These savvy ones know the value of always listening, even if they don’t act on all opportunities presented to them. Because the passive candidate is under no pressure to find a new job, he is frequently more candid and forthright and less inclined to waste his time or yours. In addition, a subtle benefit from speaking with a passive candidate is that they can be an excellent source of referrals, especially if a good rapport is built. Obviously, an active job seeker would be less inclined to offer a referral of someone who might then become a competitor for the same job.
The simple fact that a candidate is labeled a passive candidate does not automatically make them a better candidate than the average active candidate. That’s where true headhunting and candidate research methods need to be effectively employed to make sure that the correct candidates are identified at the onset of the search. A good passive candidate research associate or firm should be able to identify 20 potentially qualified candidates within a few days, depending on the complexity of the search criteria and the availability of target companies within the given geographic region. All that remains to do after these candidates are identified is to make sure that they meet the minimum skill set requirements of the client.
The benefit of using passive candidate research is that it can yield very specific candidates with specific skill sets from very specific target companies. Doing a little research up front affords you the opportunity to talk to candidates that are better qualified for the position you are recruiting for, not to mention their referrals. No form of advertising, whether it is done on job boards, the Internet, or in the newspaper classifieds can produced these candidates. Common sense dictates that if a recruiter spends more time talking to qualified candidates and less time searching through resumes of candidates that may or may not qualified, odds are they’d make more hires every month. Recruiting is a numbers game; why not stack the odds in your favor?
Now that you have been introduced to the passive candidate, stop plowing through countless resumes from active candidates that hopefully meet your search criteria and start calling on the passive candidate market. Through out your career as a top recruiter, placing the best candidates in the market will always pay the best dividends.
Copyright HTC Research Corp 1995 thru 2008

Jeff Weidner
925 313 9005 X 200
HTC Research Corp

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