When the Active vs. Passive phrase is used within the recruiting industry, most people apply it to the type of candidate under consideration:
In most cases, a Passive Candidate is considered more desirable than an Active Candidate. In no way do we mean to imply 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.
Active Candidates are easy to attract. Post a position online and you'll likely get plenty of resumes from Active Candidates. However, because an Active Candidate is actively looking for a new job, you will likely face some stiff competition because your firm is probably not the only place the candidate has applied.
Additionally, most Active Candidates will post their resume online. Again, there are many fine candidates with their resume posted on the job boards or social media. But so many companies - and 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 and emails 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 good candidate. And the better the candidate, the more competition you'll face.
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 aggressively and proactively conduct our searches usually results in a much higher percentage of Passive Candidates for our clients.