Why Sourcing Passive Candidates Is Smarter Than Settling For Active Job Seekers

Like most savvy recruiters, you’re probably well aware of the raw numbers on passive vs. active candidates.

To recap: for every individual prowling the job boards for their next position, there are 3 people happily getting on with their current job. Yet 85% of these so-called passive candidates are open to hearing about new opportunities.

So purely as a numbers game, reaching out to passive candidates makes a lot of sense. But there are more strategic reasons to focus your talent resources on engaging and recruiting them as well.

In a nutshell, passive candidates enrich your pool of available talent and often make better hires. Here’s why:

They have integrity

An active jobseeker is seeking a way out or step up. Who’s to say your role is the one they’re going to settle in? Passive candidates, meanwhile, are focused first and foremost on the job they’re in. If it takes a lot to prise them from it, that’s a great indicator of their loyalty (not a quality you’d necessarily associate with candidates who treat every new job as a springboard).

Their motivations are transparent

Job applications are a breeding ground for evasion, exaggeration and embellishment. It’s human nature. If we want to be the standout applicant, we’ll do what it takes to stand out… maybe inflating a little leadership experience here or puffing up major project involvement there. But with passive candidates, you’re making the approach, so there’s really no need for them to go overboard trying to impress you. Your relationship is forged in mutual trust and respect. Chances are that’s how it will continue after they join.

They’ll choose you for the right reasons

If your passive candidate is content in their current job, they’ll make a dispassionate decision about whether yours is a good long-term move. If your active jobseeker is desperate to get away from a job they dislike, you’re basically the next passing ship. They may be keen to jump on board; doesn’t mean they’re interested in the destination.

You aren’t in a bun fight for them

What happens when you find out your preferred applicant has offers from 2 competitors? You end up in a bidding war that could see you pay over the odds to secure their talents. Whereas if you’re the only suitor, yours is the only offer they’re negotiating on. So you’re more likely to get a loyal, honest, considerate, top-quality hire for less!

They won’t forget you in a hurry

You have no guarantees that any passive talent you approach will say yes right away. And while that’s an issue for your current vacancy, it’s no bad thing for your long-term talent planning. Any candidate you successfully engage now will remember you in the future. Building those relationships is the secret of any successful talent pipeline (something else we know a bit about).

Using this logic, more and more companies globally are directly sourcing and nurturing the candidates they want to hire, rather than hoping good people stumble across their vacancy online. And they’re reaping the benefits in the quality of their subsequent hires.

The next question is how you switch those wonderful passive candidates on to your role. Luckily, we provided the answers in a previous post. Read it here.