Difference between active and passive recruitment

How do you attract the best talent? Can you just advertise roles or should you be doing anything else?

Here in The Hidden Markets blog we look at active verus passive recruitment and what it means for your hiring strategy and ultimately what it means for your business. 


Picture of a girl jumping representing activity in relations to The Hidden Markets blog Active versus passive recruitment - what it means for you

Active versus passive recruitment - what's the different and why does it matter?

Not all applicants are equal. By definition brands that only use job sites for their recruiting are restricting their potential pool of talent to the active pool of talent. Which means if you as a brand are keen to find the best possible talent then you need a proactive solution too. It can be the case that some of the best candidates aren't looking for a job and as such will miss your opportunity. 

Active recruitment targets active candidates that are actively looking for new opportunities for a variety of reasons. They're the candidates that apply for jobs. They are open to a new opportunity, and are proactively trying to find their next role.

Passive recruitment targets those who aren’t looking. These candidates already have jobs and they’re probably happy with what they’re doing. Passive candidates are not actively looking for work which doesn't mean they wouldn’t be interested in changing the role.

So, should you focus on active or passive candidates?

The answer is that a successful recruiting strategy needs to look at both groups. It has become important to think about the people that aren't applying.

Here we give some tips on how to best approach in your recruitment efforts:

Recruiting passive candidates

When you are recruiting passive candidates, you carefully identify people that you think could be a great fit for your company. You make a conscious decision about the candidates you're going to go after because of their skills and experience. This is a more strategic approach and you can be more targeted.

Because these candidates aren't actively job hunting, you have to find a way to "sell" your role to these candidates, a way to make them care. The way you “sell” your role becomes the most important. Remember that passive candidates can turn into active candidates quickly if you get them interested. If you have a compelling opportunity, most people will be open to a conversation.

Take it slow, show that you care and be persistent

Your goal is to entice them to a role and your initial task is to spark their interest in both the role and your business. You should tell them why you want them for the specific role. Show them that you care, and that you've taken the time to research them.

Passive candidates aren’t by nature ready to switch roles. They can be hard-to-get at first but don’t give up after the initial email. Keep the communication lines open. Maybe next month the candidate will be open to a conversation.

Also, you should make an effort to meet their requirements, for example if they don’t want or aren’t able to interview during working hours.

Respect their firm no if they are truly satisfied with their current role and wouldn’t move for any reason at all.

Determine the cultural fit

If they are interested in your business and the offer, the most important is to determine if they are the right fit for your company. You know they’ve got the right skills and experience but is there a chemistry?

If there is a good cultural fit and you confirmed that they are ready to move, it’s time to ask them directly what they want or need to actually take the step. Prepare a good offer and be clear about what you can offer them in return.

Recruiting Active candidates

Active candidates are actively pursuing roles. Since they applied to your job post, they probably want what you have. You spend a lot of time filtering out irrelevant candidates to get the one you need.  So what when you find that one specific candidate you really want?

Most people you speak to will be interviewing at multiple other companies at the same time. Time and money pressure make them move fast which might not always benefit you so keep your sense of urgency but don’t put too much pressure. Treat active candidates the same way you would late-stage passive ones. It is important to keep the communication lines open. Make it clear that other people are being interviewed too, be explicit about what the next steps are and always be ready to close the deal.

Active vs Passive recruitment is about the ways and manner that you communicate. In order to win top quality hires, your recruitment strategy should be appealing for both active and passive candidates.


How we work at The Hidden Market: 

We're specialists in commercial careers: think digital, marketing, sales, and product. We place professional candidates in a range of specialisms in professional marketing jobs in a variety of industries. 

With professionals, essentially we are a strong recruitment partner for you, taking the time to truly understand what might interest you and to match you to roles on your skills. If you would like to find the best marketing roles then you can sign up here

With brands essentially we’re an extension of your brand, connecting it to more passive talent. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you drive engagement with candidates and attract the best talent then get in touch with us - hello@thehiddenmarket.com or you can register a company account here