Treat Actives Like Passives and You’ll Close More Candidates

candidate hiring conceptOften we see articles about recruiting passive candidates. The perception is that active candidates are not as desirable as their working counterparts.

Allyson Doyle, contributor tr wrote, “Employers often actively seek passive candidates for employment, especially when they are seeking candidates with very specific skills and experience.”

Does that mean that active candidates are no good? Before making a premature judgment, read on; you may not want to discount active candidates.

Manisha Gupta, in her LinkedIn article “Passive Talent – Not as Passive as you Think,” brought up a very important point. “…if you focus only on the passive talent pool (which comprises about 80 percent of the fully-employed workforce), you’ll find those who are truly ‘approachable’ (whether ‘Tiptoers’ or ‘Explorers’) far outnumber the ‘Super-Passives’ who claim they’re not interested in even discussing a move.” Most of these candidates are actually somewhat active.

Active candidates are usually inundated with calls by sourcers and recruiters. Because of this, active candidates can be “slippery” and hard to pin down. Honestly, it can take even more time to properly recruit candidates that are on the prowl than their more passive peers. I have always prided myself on never having a candidate refuse an offer I presented. (OK, maybe only four in my career.) The reason I can say  this, like quite a number of my peers, is that I have never presented an offer to a candidate I did not have on lockdown.

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Let’s look at four steps that you must do if you want your candidates to “stick.”

  1. Get ALL the red flags out of the way during discovery. Most candidates who are actively looking could also be actively interviewing. They say Monday night they can interview on Tuesday. But when you call them on Tuesday, you find out they got a job! (Ouch!) If you are sure this is THE candidate, do a deep DEEP dive when getting to know your candidate. You need to know what they want in their career and whether or not you can provide it!
  2. Talk to them every day! Lead with the question: “Has anything changed since I talked to you yesterday?”
  3. Assume that they have interviewed and/or received offers. “Where are you interviewing today?  Turn down any offers? Any pending?”
  4. Repeat during each conversation the “specs”: “To follow up, I have submitted your resume to [Company Name or Hiring Manager Name] for the [Job Title]. You can interview at [times and days given to you by candidate] and if everything goes well, you are able to accept the position at [company name] in [city] for an annual (hourly) salary of [$$$$].

It really does need to be everyday by the way. And then 2x a week the first two weeks and once a week for the next two weeks at a minimum. Sourcers and recruiters remember the candidate is your product. Make sure before every placement you know what you are selling.

Image courtesy of suphakit73 /

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.