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Active vs. Passive Candidates

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The Active vs. Passive Candidate

When the Active vs. Passive phrase is used within the recruiting industry, most people apply it to the type of candidate under consideration:

  1. An Active candidate is someone who is actively seeking new employment. This type of candidate is actively searching the job boards, has his/her resume posted online, and is highly motivated to find new employment. Most studies indicate that less than 20% of the workforce is actively seeking new employment.
  2. A Passive candidate is someone who is not actively looking for a new job. This type of candidate is probably too busy doing what they need to do to be successful to even worry about what’s happening in the job market. A company and/or a recruiting firm can post all the ads they can write, and a passive candidate will likely never see them, and thus will never respond to them.

In most cases, a Passive candidate is considered more desirable than an Active candidate. In no way do we mean that there aren’t quality Active candidates out there, but it stands to reason that if someone is actively looking for a new job, then there are reasons behind it. Is the candidate in jeopardy of losing his/her job? Have they already lost it? Are they underperforming in their current position? Active candidates are easy to attract. Place an ad online or in a newspaper and you will get plenty of resumes from Active candidates. However, because an Active candidate is actively looking for a job, if you find a good one you may face substantial competition from all the other companies he/she has applied to.

Additionally, most Active candidates will post their resume online. Again, there are many fine candidates with their resumes posted online. But so many companies – and many, many search firms – continually scan the online resume banks for new candidates. Once a candidate has placed his resume online, he/she is likely to be bombarded with calls from your competitors and scores of recruiters. If you are trying to find quality candidates this way, be prepared to face significant competition for every candidate. And the better the candidate, the more the competition.

Our goal at DTG is to bring our clients the best possible candidates for their needs, regardless of whether they are an Active or Passive candidate. However, the way we typically conduct our searches - utilizing our own industry-specific database as well as working through our referral base - usually results in a much higher percentage of Passive candidates for our clients.