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You’ve worked hard this year. Sit back, relax and listen along to this week’s post:


Everyone wants passive candidates. I hear it all of the time in my conversations with clients and prospective clients. The two dreaded requests that, when paired together, seem more like a call for a magic trick than a recruiting project –

We are really interested in speaking only with passive candidates for this role + we need to fill the position quickly.

I sit, take notes and begin to strategize in my head:

“Okay, first I’ll create an ideal candidate profile, then search through LinkedIn to see who’s out there, reach out to all qualified individuals…And then I need folks to get back to me within the week if I’m going to fill this position in 30 days.”

And then what? Here’s the thing – passive candidates are in high demand by all. Finding an employer who isn’t interested in speaking with passive candidates is like encountering Bigfoot in the forest. It just never happens.

And if that’s like encountering Bigfoot, then finding a passive candidate that is ready to switch jobs quickly is like finding the Abominable Snowman. They just don’t exist.   

passive 1

Instead of beginning a search with unrealistic expectations and frustrating everyone involved, why not consider the value that active candidates bring to the job market? Ask yourself, “Do I think I’m a talented, qualified individual?” And then follow that up with, “Have I ever applied for a job via an application process?” If you answered “yes” to both of those questions, then you should reconsider whether your request for passive-candidates-only is even necessary.

passive 2

And if what I’m suggesting is starting to make you think, let me provide you with two recruiting examples that have occurred within the past year where the active candidate was the strongest overall choice.

When an Active Candidate is Exactly What You’re Looking For

About 8 months ago, I worked with a real estate development company who had a hard-to-fill position open for a Development Project Manager. We had roughly 20 conversations with passive candidates. It was the typical Goldilocks and the Three Bears scenario. One candidate was perfect, but made too much money; another was underqualified and another was not willing to travel as much as this role required…You can see where I’m going with this.

We decided to post the position and see who might be looking for this type of role that we may have missed. The second day that the posting was up, we received a resume from an excellent candidate who had just finished up a 3-year contract role with a development company outside of the U.S.

He had exactly the right mix of skills and expertise. He was in the right compensation range. He had an excellent demeanor and clicked with the hiring manager instantly. It was every recruiter’s (and every company’s) dream. We all came away from the experience feeling so encouraged and satisfied and also wondering why we had spent the first three weeks of our search making things way harder than they needed to be.


When Your Job Posting Reaches People You Would Never Find Otherwise

As with the example above, sometimes your job posting grabs the attention of someone that you wouldn’t have found for reasons that are out of your control. With our Development Manager, he didn’t show up in any of my searches because I only searched profiles within the United States!

In the case of a sales role I worked on recently, we had an applicant send us his resume on the FIRST DAY that the job was posted. Again, he was outside of the location radius that I was searching, but had plans to move to the town where my client was located. I hadn’t searched outside of this territory originally because we weren’t offering relocation assistance for this position.   

When you consider these types of scenarios, and the fact that it’s safe to assume that everyone is at least partially looking some of the time, it sheds new light on the value of the active candidate, wouldn’t you say? I’m not suggesting that you abandon your search for passive candidates entirely. Passive candidates can bring a lot to the table and continuing to build a pipeline of talented individuals (passive or otherwise) is at the heart of recruiting. What I am suggesting is to employ a two-prong approach and keep your expectations in check given certain limitations of the search.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the value of active candidates. May your 2016 be full of talent, the right candidates, retention and productivity!

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