This post was updated in June 2019.
Some recruiters spend a lot of time pursuing hard-to-get candidates—those who are pretty satisfied in their current jobs but could be enticed by another opportunity. You may succeed in recruiting some of these passive candidates away from their current companies, but once they’ve joined your organization, you’re left to wonder: are their hearts really in it?
Sometimes the best fit has been there all along, waiting for you to give him or her a chance. These are the active candidates who know their own goals and passions enough to take charge of their careers and seek out the companies and roles that excite them. And the best part? There are a lot of active candidates out there: In a study Indeed conducted with Harris Poll, 71% of people in the labor force said they’re actively looking for or open to a new job.
These motivated professionals might be just what your talent attraction strategy is missing. They’re also the type of candidates 9 out of 10 talent professionals say they would prefer to hire for the following reasons:
1. They know what they want
Active candidates have the confidence and ambition to know where they’ll do their best work. If they’ve chosen to approach your company, they’re well-primed for a successful recruiting process.
By pursuing passive candidates who may not even respond to your calls and emails, you’re investing a lot of time and effort in someone who might not be interested in your company or role. It’s no surprise 87% of employers say it’s more expensive or the same cost to recruit passive candidates. Active job seekers ensure a smoother courtship.
2. They’re ready for change
Active candidates have already done the tough psychological work that goes into changing jobs. They’ve decided to seek a new opportunity, prepared themselves for the temporary stress and inconvenience of transitioning from one company to another, embraced the challenge of building relationships with a new set of coworkers and signed up for the inevitable learning curve that comes with adjusting to a new role.
In contrast, passive candidates need to be convinced your company can offer them more than they have in their current job. This may be why our research found passive candidates are more likely to have higher salary expectations.
3. They’re more likely to succeed on the job
In our study, 70% of talent leaders said they feel active candidates are more motivated to succeed in their new roles than passive candidates are. Active candidates seem to have a better shot at becoming active and engaged hires.
In contrast, a passive approach to job search sometimes reflects passivity in other areas of professional life. For example, a passive communication style at work has been tied to indecisiveness, inability to delegate and an unwillingness to speak up with new ideas or assert one’s own needs.
This is particularly important for employees who move into leadership roles. As Kevin Ready writes for Forbes, “One key aspect of making the transition from team member to team or business unit leader is this idea of becoming an ‘active’ communicator ... In a high-functioning communications regime, you will rarely find managers who are passive communicators—because it almost never works.”
4. They bring more passion to their work
Active candidates are more likely to become passionate employees. While a passive candidate might display enthusiasm on the job, they might also have more persistent ambivalence about whether their new company is where they belong. In an Indeed survey conducted by The Polling Company, recruiters told us lack of passion was the #1 reason passive hires fail in their new roles.
On the other hand, active candidates sought out what they wanted and contacted you because they were attracted to some aspect of your employer brand, your company mission or the idea of spending their days doing the type of work they love and excel at.
Don’t squander this passion. Make the most of it by focusing your recruitment efforts on attracting these highly motivated job seekers. Embrace active candidates and give them a chance to give their all to your organization.