MapWhen it comes to hiring, recruiters tend to favor passive candidates — but you already knew that.

Recruiters often spend a lot of time developing their networks and enhancing their companies’ employer brands to attract the best passive candidates, but new data suggests that this approach may be out of step with what company executives believe about the recruiting process. According to Futurestep, 68 percent of C-suite executives say their best hires have been active candidates — not those passive unicorns that recruiters are always going on about. Does this mean that recruiters and executives are out of sync with one another?

Two Views of the Same Coin

In all honesty, executives and recruiters are looking at the issue of hiring from two different vantage points. After all, the recruiting team is concerned not only with the current positions they’re hiring for, but also the future positions they know they’ll need to fill down the line.

Executives seem to prefer active candidates because these candidates are eager to join the company right now. Many executives value this motivation and drive in candidates, and many executives themselves have similar levels of passion, commitment, and dedication to their careers. As we know, people often seek to hire in their own images: passive candidates may not readily fit into executives’ self-images, and as a result, execs may favor active candidates over their passive counterparts.

Conversely, recruiters are looking to build pipelines of individuals who may become interested in future positions. There’s good reason for recruiters to focus their efforts in such a way. For example, if your company can’t afford to outspend your competitors on job advertising, then recruiting passive candidates may be the smart alternative. It’s far cheaper and easier to pluck a candidate out of your candidate database when positions become available than it is to post advertisements on multiple sites and hope for a quality applicant to come along.

Futurestep’s survey also found that 52 percent of executives turned to their own networks before spending money on job advertising campaigns. What executives — who typically don’t spend enough time in the HR and recruiting blogosphere to know the lingo — may not realize is that their networks aTrainre probably full of passive candidates.

How to Bring Executives and Recruiters Back in Line With One Another

The key to achieving alignment between the C-suite and the recruiting team is to build a multi-track recruiting program. Yes, it is important for recruiters to build pipelines of passive candidates, but it’s also important for recruiters to reach out to active candidates.

To ignore active candidates entirely or treat them as second-tier talent could seriously damage a company’s chances of recruiting the best of the best. It’s universally acknowledged that when a company’s time-to-hire is too long, top candidates will drop out of the running, leaving less desirable candidates in the talent pool. Failing to respond quickly or effectively to active candidates in favor of passive candidates could cause a recruiter to lose some top-tier applicants.

Similarly, a strong network of passive candidates can not only help recruiters fill future positions, but it can also be a great way to balance a weak pool of active candidates right now. If the active talent isn’t so hot, a recruiters can reach out to their passive candidates to see if anyone would be interested in applying for the position.

Multi-track programs incorporate both the preferences and strategies of recruiters and executives alike. These programs bring an important balance to the recruiting process, providing recruiters with access to multiple talent sources and enhancing a company’s overall quality of hire.

Recruiting in Motion

The recruiting process should always be a fluid, adjustable one. As is the case with any other critical business function, the recruiting process is improved through constant feedback, testing, and tweaking. As executives and recruiters learn to balance their opposing views, the process is further strengthened. Companies can incorporate the strengths and ideals of both the C-suite and the recruiting department into the recruiting process for the benefit of the business as a whole.

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