10 Reasons Not To Ignore Active Job Seekers

By Paul Slezak - Nov. 7, 2016
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Editor’s Note: This post is by Paul Slezak, Cofounder and CEO of RecruitLoop – the World’s largest marketplace of expert Recruiters and Sourcers available on-demand.

Have you ever heard someone say that active job seekers – those who are actively in the market looking for job opportunities – are a waste of time?

Unfortunately the popular belief seems to be that, ‘If they are looking for a job, then they can’t be any good.’

Instead, recruiters have encouraged organisations to focus on those people who are already in jobs, saying, ‘Focus on the passive talent!  The best candidates are currently employed!’

Having spent over 2 decades in the recruitment game, I can honestly say this is a myth and it’s time to destroy it.

This belief was created, shared and perpetuated by traditional recruiters to justify sky high fees for their work and convince unsuspecting organisations that they needed headhunters (and the associated fees) when really what was needed was a simple job ad.

Of course passive candidates can be a great source of untapped talent for organisations and I’m certainly not saying that every good recruiter shouldn’t devote a period of time to maintaining their passive candidate funnel. However including active job seekers when searching for the best talent can be just, if not more, effective and cost thousands of dollars less.

Here are 10 reasons why you can’t afford to ignore active job seekers:

1. Almost all workers are always seeking new job opportunities

A study done on Candidate Behaviour revealed that 71% of people currently employed actively search for new positions as a regular part of their routine. 27% search for new opportunities as regularly as every week! Job search email alerts sent directly to a person’s inbox makes keeping an eye on currently available job positions easy.  It’s likely your candidate will come to you before you manage to reach them passively. How devastating if you ignored them simply because they did your work for you!

2. Active job seekers may be active for good reasons

Not everyone is an active job seeker because they’re not good enough to get the job they want.  They may be moving cities for family reasons.  They may have taken a sabbatical the year before.  They may have just graduated from further education. They may have thought their current role was something that it turned out not to be.

Almost everyone has been an active job seeker at some stage in their professional life. There are many reasons a person is an active job seeker. Remember an ‘active’ job seeker isn’t necessarily out of work. They might be active because they have made the conscious decision to find a new role and are just doing something about it!

I’ve always trained recruiters to quickly assess whether a candidate is either running away from something or running toward something. This will help you determine what type of active candidate they are.

3. Keyword searches don’t find everyone

If you’re searching for someone a little unusual to fill a role requiring creativity and innovation, you likely won’t find the word ‘creative’ or ‘innovative’ on their LinkedIn profile.  Creative people are often hiding behind more traditional titles, maybe ones that do not currently relate to the job you are looking to fill. You may be missing out on a potential creative gem by limiting your talent pool to only those who show up in keyword searches.

4. Active job seekers are often the fastest to get across the line

It takes a lot of effort to recruit a passive job seeker – dozens of unanswered emails, hours convincing and negotiating.  On the other hand, an active candidate is often ready to go.  They are open to new opportunities and have already mentally left behind their current role.  When a candidate is the right candidate, an active jobseeker will have required far less work to get across the line than a passive one.  There’s no need to take the path of most resistance if the result – a great candidate for the role – is the same.

5. Active job seekers can be surprising gems

It stands to reason that active job seekers are far more invested in their potential for a job role than you are.  Recruiters can’t know everything about a person and often need the jobseeker to present their skills in the right way for a job match to be obvious.  Judging a person by the small amount of information available on their LinkedIn profile is to unnecessarily narrow the options.

6. Passive job seekers tend to have outdated profiles

When a person is happy in their current role, they usually do not maintain an updated profile on LinkedIn or any of the job search sites.  Approaching someone with outdated information about their job history can waste time and resources.

7. Passive job seekers are in control – because YOU called THEM

Negotiating a package with a passive job seeker starts with you, the employer or recruiter, on the back foot.  You called them so they know they have the upper hand. Landing a qualified person for the role who was recruited passively may cost more than landing a qualified person for the role who was recruited actively.  Same result, more money spent.

8. Active job seekers are ready to go – now!

When you’ve got a time sensitive recruitment job, passive candidates are not your best friend.  You’ll destroy your reputation or hurt your business in the process of attempting to only recruit people who are currently happy in their roles and who may have lengthy notice periods.  If you need to open a new office in a new city and staff it with 20 employees, you should be prepared to consider active employees or you’ll never get it off the ground.

9. Passive does not necessarily equal ‘talented’

Theoretically, if someone searching for a job means they are untalented, someone who is not searching for a job must be talented – right? This is completely untrue and quite ridiculous.  There are plenty of deadbeat, uninspired and quite simply average employees quite happily sucking their current employer dry and getting through their regular 9-5.

10. Why does it matter how they got to you?

A great candidate is a great candidate.

Judge their ability to do the job not by how they arrived at your door but by how they have evidenced their ability to perform in the past, what that says about their future ability and how they respond in your interviews and questioning. These are greater predictors of their future success at your company than how their resume got into your inbox.

A great recruiter sources potential candidates from many different sources.  A great recruiter discriminates a good and bad job seeker, not from the method they used to get in contact, but from their skills, attributes and experiences.  Don’t buy into the passive jobseeker myth – it could cost you money and reputation.

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.


Paul Slezak

Cofounder and CEO at RecruitLoop. I've been a hands on recruiter, manager, trainer, coach, mentor, and regular speaker for the recruitment industry for nearly 25 years.

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