Passive, Active… Pactive? Let’s Call the Whole Thing Recruiting

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duetIt’s an easy debate to have, the passive vs active candidate debate. It goes a little something like this:

Experienced recruiter patiently explains that the reason a candidate is passive is because they already have a job and aren’t really looking for another one. This makes them attractive to recruiters and hiring managers in several ways:

1. They are employed therefore they are employable. 2. They are at work so they must be working. 3. They landed a gig so they must be skilled. 4. Bonus if they work for a competitive company.

But are those assumptions really valid? Some would argue in today’s project economy, maybe not so much. In fact, the job hopper of just five years ago was a recruiter’s pariah (not contract obviously). Today that same young man or woman may be described as a ladder climber or a lateral mover. It just doesn’t have the same stigma it used to to leave a job after a few years… or even a few months.

And then there’s the old economy. Passives were a bit harder to locate there for awhile (and recruiters looked like jerks for trying to track them down when unemployment burned a swath through the American workforce). The honeymoon between hard up HR pros and recruiters and the formerly untouchable active candidates started all over again. After all, the newer recruiter points out, a candidate is active because they want to make a move, they need  a new job and have the skills to do it. This makes them attractive to recruiters and hiring managers for the following reasons:

  • They are far more willing to talk about and apply for the job.
  • They often are more willing to negotiate around benefits and salary.
  • They were often laid off because of company issues rather than individual issues.
  • They want the JOB!!!

More out of necessity than anything else, slashed budgets and smaller recruiting and sourcing teams began looking in (gasp!) their ATS to find applicants who instead of being the purple squirrel, they could “hire for culture, train for skills”. In short, we lowered our heady standards. Perhaps some thought it was just until the economy balanced itself out and then it would be business as usual.

But that was not to be. For while recruiters and HR Pros were amending their end game, candidates (both passive and active) were becoming ever aware of a new era in job seeking. The last vestiges of big company loyalty were quickly shed in favor of demanding roles in small businesses, startups and contract or freelance positions. Networks cropped up to help people find “gigs” instead of careers and skills began to be honed at a rapid pace by the jobseeking community.

For today’s candidates, the job search process is constantly “on,” with 74 percent of workers either actively searching for a new job or open to a new opportunity (according to both Lou Adler who puts it closer to 69% and a recent CareerBuilder survey). So despite the side you used to or occupy now, it’s clear that it doesn’t really matter, because along with the shift in how we hold jobs and how open we are to new ones and how large the actual pool of “Pactive” TM jobseekers — as recruiters and hiring managers, we need to know how to reach them.

Join me on November 7th as we discuss “Pactive” Jobseekers: How to Target Them and Why. I’m ready and willing to hear opposing views, talk about the new tools out there to assist recruiters and sourcers and more. I also plan on getting very real about what recruitment marketing means and how to use it to your advantage. See you there!

Read more in Sourcing

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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